Left alone in the Craft Scotland offices whilst the rest of the team head to Collect 2011 in London, I’ve been catching up with news, emails and administration. In doing so I read Emma’s recent blogs, passionately defending my ‘non job’ and eloquently communicating her passion for craft and her role as CEO at Craft Scotland. It left me feeling very proud of the organisation I work for and the work that we do.
Amongst my administration has been collating Conserving Ecologies: Craft and Biodiversity evaluation. This exhibition and its associated events were motivated by a desire to engage and develop new audiences for craft. We achieved this by presenting the work of Scottish makers alongside the science of biodiversity at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Elinor Gallant (Exhibition Officer RBGE) and I worked hard to ensure staff across the gardens were engaged with the exhibition. This was invaluably supported by RBGE Science Communicator Max Coleman, who found the new process of working with artists in this way insightful and enjoyable. I was particularly heartened to witness a group of RBGE gardeners gathered round Rachel Elliott’s glasshouses at the opening, peering into the tiny spaces. The relationship between craftscotland and RBGE I hope will be a long and fruitful one. The extension to my contract happily enables me to develop and maintain such partnerships.
The exhibition sparked a collaboration between two of the exhibiting makers, Anne Murray and Caroline Dear. Anne’s practise has also developed significantly as a result of her involvement in the exhibition and she continues to interact and support Craft Scotland activity through our social networks.
In the coming weeks I’ll be meeting with Dr Rehema White and Dr Emilia Ferraro, Sustainable Development Programme Directors at the University of St Andrews. We’ll be discussing publishing the findings from the Conserving Ecologies Symposium and how to facilitate a network of those interested in the subject long term.
Conserving Ecologies: Craft and Biodiversity’s engagement with these varied audiences illustrates to me how relevant craft is and how important it is that we continue to develop audiences for it. Far from a non job, I feel proud of what my work as part of Conserving Ecologies has achieved. Audience responses such as “expanded my knowledge of and experience of different crafts”, “[the exhibition] jogs the brain into looking more creatively - very inspiring!”, “I was largely unaware of it [Scottish craft] before” makes me feel confident we are achieving in inspiring and engaging audiences. From visitor evaluation 90% of respondents stated they had either bought craft in the last two years, or would consider purchasing craft in the future; with 29% saying they were more likely to as a result of the exhibition. This limited sample demonstrates to me there is a significant audience for craft, who we are able to develop through our activity.
Since the exhibition closed we have opened the Unite exhibition with the Collins Gallery in Glasgow, showcasing the largest number of makers Craft Scotland have exhibited to date, and hosted an associated makers day. I am excited and proud to be travelling down to London to meet with my colleagues at Collect 2011, and support them in showcasing Scottish craft to yet more national and international audiences. My thanks go to Emma and Creative Scotland for supporting and enabling me to continue to do this as part of the craftscotland team.