What's up in... Cardiff

What's up in... Cardiff

AI looks at what's coming up around the country – this week, the arts in Cardiff

Rylance quits RSC over BP sponsorship

Rylance quits RSC over BP sponsorship

Oscar winner Sir Mark Rylance has resigned as an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company over the company’s BP sponsorship.

TAITMAIL Abbey blues

TAITMAIL Abbey blues

In Ireland, the Abbey is almost synonymous with theatre. The Dublin playhouse has been woven into the history of the nation, not just the dramatic arts.

National Gallery chair stands down

National Gallery chair stands down

The National Gallery’s first woman chair of trustees, Hannah Rothschild, is to stand down after five years.

Serpentine chief quits over spyware row

Serpentine chief quits over spyware row

Yana Peel, CEO of the Serpentine Galleries since 2016, has resigned because of “misguided personal attacks on me and my family”.

Arts philanthropy up – but…

Arts philanthropy up – but…

…private giving is flagging and uneven, according to the latest ACE report.

Charity’s awards to help restore music’s social reach

Charity’s awards to help restore music’s social reach

An Italian Anglofile philanthopist who believes charities have to step in to prevent a catastrophic loss of access to culture for the socially disadvantaged has launched a new award scheme to help fill the gap caused by funding cuts by governments around the world.

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE   The new museums challenge

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE The new museums challenge

Last week’s TaitMail, prompted by the appointment of a shipping executive as director of the Royal Museums Greenwich, brings a response from Roy Clare CBE, former director of the National Maritime Museum and later CEO of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and then director of Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand

£250k to lend national treasures

£250k to lend national treasures

The loan programme that helps museums around the country borrow objects and works of art from national collections is open for bids for next year.

TAITMAIL  Garrick, and how not to commemorate

TAITMAIL Garrick, and how not to commemorate

I’m glad Nigel Hinds got an OBE in the Birthday Honours for being executive producer of 14-18 NOW - his boss, Jenny Waldman, got her CBE 18 months ago – underlining the triumph of the marathon commemoration. We haven’t always been so good at it.

BP protestors bar NPG awards guests

BP protestors bar NPG awards guests

Protestors against the BP sponsorship of the National Portrait Gallery’s annual portrait award prevented guests from entering the main entrance at the gallery last night, forcing them to clamber over a railing to get in.

‘Sack BP’ portrait judge Hume tells NPG

‘Sack BP’ portrait judge Hume tells NPG

On the eve of its annual BP Portrait Awards, the National Portrait Gallery has been told to cut connections with the oil company by one of this year’s judges, the artist Gary Hume.

Congratulations…

Congratulations…

…to arts and heritage names in the Birthday Honours List

Shakespeare’s future home

Shakespeare’s future home

Local Stratford-upon-Avon residents are being asked for their visions of their town’s future in a public art project, I See the Future,.

Wayne Hemingway involved in new Flaxmill plan

Wayne Hemingway involved in new Flaxmill plan

Designer will brand restored Shrewsbury heritage building

Ex-shipping chief to run Greenwich museums

Ex-shipping chief to run Greenwich museums

Paddy Rodgers, former CEO of the Euronav shipping company, one of the biggest in the world, is to be the new director of Royal Museums Greenwich, having had no previous experience in museums management.

Dixon to stand down at NHM

Dixon to stand down at NHM

Sir Michael Dixon has announced that he is to retire as director of the Natural History Museum after 15 years.

Drawn from the life: the world’s first robot artist

Drawn from the life: the world’s first robot artist

Meet Ai-Da, the world’s first realistic humanoid robot artist, who opens her first solo exhibition on June 12.

THE WORD    Could we make arts boards better?

THE WORD Could we make arts boards better?

No-one has better insight into the work of the arts boards than Prue Skene CBE, who as well as serving on and chairing many boards is governance associate of the Clore Leadership Programme. Last November we reported on the launch the CLP of the Cultural Governance Alliance, but she believes arts boards need a fundamental rethink, and here suggests how they could change for the better

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Splashdown, 4thTest v Australia, 27thAugust 2005, by David Ashdown for The Independent

Russell Group puts arts on equal footing

Russell Group puts arts on equal footing

Top universities scrap "preferred" subjects list

Ex-Tesco boss backs Liverpool arts school

Ex-Tesco boss backs Liverpool arts school

Former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy has invested in Liverpool’s performing arts school the Liverpool Media Academy, LMA.

New boss at Kendal arts centre

New boss at Kendal arts centre

Miriam Randall moves from Watershed to Brewery Arts

The booming arts economy needs more public funding

The booming arts economy needs more public funding

Public investment in the arts through subsidy is paying dividends for the British economy, contributing almost £11bn a year, according to a new report from the Creative Industries Federation. But it needs more.

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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