Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

Lost young Dickens found – in a trinket box

A lost portrait of Charles Dickens at the age of 31 has been found, in a South African trinket box.

Bullet Tongue and the red raw world of excluded teens

Bullet Tongue and the red raw world of excluded teens

AI PROFILE Maggie Norris, artistic director, The Big House

Arts festival to honour Britain’s refugees

Arts festival to honour Britain’s refugees

A year-long arts festival, including major names, will take place to celebrate the contribution of refugees to British culture.

Massive drop in music study in Wales

Massive drop in music study in Wales

Figures show A level numbers have halved

Candoco makes Strictly debut

Candoco makes Strictly debut

Candoco, the dance company of disabled and non-disabled performers, is to make its debut on BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing this weekend.

MY STORY     Nurturing the seedlings of song

MY STORY Nurturing the seedlings of song

Since 1996 Samling has nurtured the artistic development of exceptional young singers and piano accompanists at the start of their careers through its artist programmeFounded by Karon Wright, its artistic and executive director, and businessman Roger McKechnie the charity has embarked on a new era with a change of name.

Cerith Wyn Evans wins Hepworth Sculpture Prize

Cerith Wyn Evans wins Hepworth Sculpture Prize

The sculptor who began his artistic career as an experimental film maker has won the £30,000 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.

Horse sense

Horse sense

In the new year, a museum centre in Cambridgeshire will be offering a new and unique service no other could: horse therapy.

TAITMAIL       What NOW?

TAITMAIL What NOW?

Halfway through her brief tenure as culture secretary, Maria Miller did the only thing she will probably be remembered for, apart from standing down in the face of an expenses complaint. The expectation was for some kind of Westminster Abbey affair with a full set of royals and military on parade, but Mrs Miller had something else in mind.

Leeds to get new BFI operation

Leeds to get new BFI operation

Young Audiences Fund will set up in the Yorkshire city

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM   Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Harrow, London, 8th October 1952, by George Phillips

Lynette Linton to run Bush

Lynette Linton to run Bush

The director Lynette Linton is to succeed Madani Younis as artistic director the Bush Theatre in January.

THE WORD Rapping it up: Royston responds to Azealia Banks' UK rap comments

THE WORD Rapping it up: Royston responds to Azealia Banks' UK rap comments

An explosive American rapper has turned her fire on her British counterparts. Royston takes her on

Composing the future

Composing the future

The first four participants have been announced today in a new Glyndebourne development scheme for female composers, Balancing the Score, devised to help address the under-representation of female composers in classical music.

Boyle’s Remembrance Day beach homage

Boyle’s Remembrance Day beach homage

Ten’s of thousands took to Britain’s beaches on Rememberance Day to mark the centenary of the signing of the Armistice on Sunday.

Sculpture opens Westminster doors

Sculpture opens Westminster doors

The oldest building in the Palace of Westminster is hosting a contemporary sculpture marking the centenary of female franchise.

TAITMAIL   Governing the not so ungovernable

TAITMAIL Governing the not so ungovernable

Governance, the formulation and implementation of policy, has long been the slippery soap of the cultural sectors, arts and heritage.

Governance flagship launched

Governance flagship launched

The arts are coming together to tackle the long-standing issue of board effectiveness with the creation of the Cultural Governance Alliance (CGA).

THE WORD The art of the artisan

Alberto Cavalli, director of the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, and author of The Master’s Touch: Essential elements of artisanal excellence, believes that craftsmanship and artistic creativity go hand-in-hand

In his Bauhaus Manifesto of 1919, Walter Gropius wrote: “Architects, sculptors, painters – we all must return to craftsmanship! For there is no such thing as ‘art by profession’. There is no essential difference between the artist and the artisan. The artist is an exalted artisan.”

The artist as an exalted artisan, or rather, the artist and the artisan as two sides of the same coin, working together in harmony to achieve a level of excellence that manifests itself in difference, uniqueness and competitive advantage: a perspective which, even after almost one hundred years, is still extremely seducing and challenging. Because it brings us directly into the heart of that galaxy of competences, passions and expertise which the contemporary master artisans should possess, if they want to bridge their time-honoured manual dexterities (often imbued with precious artistic skills) into the future.

A future where the concepts of rarity, beauty and perfection will be constantly challenged by the advent of new hyper-technological possibilities, and where it will be more and more important to share a common language, precise and alive, to cultivate a taste for those beautiful and carefully crafted objects, whose cultural meaning blends design and history, form and function, inspiration and vision.

With The Master’s Touch. Essential elements of artisanal excellence, published by Marsilio Editori with the support of the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsman- ship, we wanted to try to lay the groundwork for a common language to describe the distinguished work of master artisans everywhere, hoping that these criteria will be the start of a serene, constructive and relevant conversation around the definition of quality in craftsmanship.

Our idea was to take a close look at what determines excellence in craftsmanship and identify the key qualities shared by some of Europe’s nest master artisans. Through systematic research and analysis of relevant terminology, legislation, public opinion and in-depth interviews with master artisans, we have distilled 11 specific criteria for excellence and developed a corresponding assessment tool that can be re ned with use over time. Authenticity, competence, craftsmanship, creativity, innovation, interpretation, originality, talent, territory, tradition and training: these are the words that were found, analysed and contextualised in the field of fine and creative craftsmanship. They constitute the “bricks” necessary to edify a solid conceptual base not just to de- ne “quality”, but to look of this quality in an objective, constructive way. Once the criteria were identified, we tested their practical application through in-depth interviews with recognized masters in Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzer- land, and the United Kingdom, which allowed for the further testing of the terms, proving them to be robust and meaningful across these different cultures. The 22 European masters interviewed represent a broad range of high-quality craftsmanship, from ceramics and violin-making to fine tailoring and jewellery by way of metal sculpture and cabinetmaking. Asked to speak to the importance of the various criteria in their work, their testimony grounds the criteria in lived experience, affirming and enhancing their relevance. These artisans, who have devoted a significant portion of their lives to achieving mastery, were able to provide specific examples to ground the terms, ensuring that they apply to a full range of ne crafts – from ceramics to violin-making – as well as to a diversity of cultures.
The distinctiveness with which only a real “master” can imbue an object, and which is deeply linked to the concept of excellence and to the cultural significance of this expression, is a distinguishing trait that creates value. But we have to find an appropriate way to communicate this “difference”: not only by giving master artisans back the central role that they deserve, but also by rediscovering those methodological paradigms that can provide a holistic and up-to-date image of the sector of ne craftsman- ship. Seeking to establish an objective assessment of excellence can prove to be an effective communication tool, bearing in mind that, given its complexity, the artistic crafts system can- not be reduced to a few basic, finite and simplified components.

Attempting to attach a mathematical formula to artisanal excellence would be misguided. Rather, we should try to de ne as clearly as possible the attributes that an “excel- lent” artisanal product must possess. Such an exercise would serve a dual concrete purpose: that of improving the creators’ visibility and that of presenting their method as a set of rules, practices, knowledge and experiences essential to the attainment of the “character” that is the main ingredient of artisanal excellence. The master artisans’ work, in fact, rarely receives the acknowledgement it deserves. If we are to recognize this work – and to advance the field as a whole – we must be able to understand exactly what it is that makes a master. We must be able to identify our master artisans and distinguish the qualities that constitute excellence in craftsmanship.

By developing criteria for excellence, we are creating a common language that aims to set the “gold standard” that can inspire new generations of young artisans and to which all artisans can aspire.

All language is alive, which is to say that it is constantly changing to reflect new realities, perspectives and imperatives. As such, with this book we tried to anticipate that the criteria for excellence will evolve over time and with use: assessing excellence should be a fluid examination of measurements and visions that are continuously evolving.

This is why we designed a matrix for how to work with the criteria in a way that allows it to be re ned as it is put to use in new contexts. It is our hope that a reasoned and objective assessment of excellence, based on the construction of a shared and common specific language, will act as an incentive to preserve, improve and rediscover that extraordinary array of competences, abilities, skills and passions that underpins the very best of artisanal production, in the forms of those objects that make our lives better, our homes more beautiful, and our future more human.

The Master’s Touch. Essential elements of artisanal excellence, by Alberto Cavalli with Giuditta Comerci and Giovanna Marchello. Venice, Marsilio Editori, 2017. Published thanks to the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship.

 

 

 

 

 

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