This year, 2011, marks Craft Australia’s 40th year. It is a year for acknowledging and celebrating the outstanding achievements of an exceptional generation of studio craft practitioners many with high profile international reputations.
And this is also the year that the Visual Arts Board informed Craft Australia that it will be defunded. This is the last year Craft Australia will act as an advocate for the Australian craft sector.
In recent years the crafts have been elevated in popular and academic writing. The Craftsmen, by Richard Sennet is erudite and compelling in arguing that “the craftsman’s realm
is far broader than skilled manual labour; the computer programmer, the doctor, the parent and citizen need to learn the values of good craftsmanship today.”
When these values are widely embraced in society they can form the national character, and can impact on productivity, prosperity and civil society.
At a time when craft and art and design are all struggling in this global financial decline one segment – craft - will be defunded. It is this sector that can delineate a national character establishing a global reputation for excellence, not only manufacturing and construction, but government, finance and social policy as well.
For Bungendore Wood Works Gallery the defunding is blow to us because we seek guidance and some inspiration from craft Australia, to move our gallery towards an international reputation, as a gallery that show cases a nation’s outstanding work in wood; a de facto national collection of wood works.
There are the many missed opportunities. Craft is in a resurgence in other countries, and where the young generation have embraced we are turning our backs on craft.
David Mac Laren
Artistic Director, Bungendore Wood Works Gallery