Story: Crafts and applied arts

Page 10. Craft as object, 2000s

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By 2000 the rustic crafts of the 1970s had been vanquished from memory, and ‘handmade’ had developed new social cachet. In the first decades of the 21st century craft had found itself a secure position amongst local art forms. Unlike the boom-and-bust times of the 1970s and 1980s, craft was a regular presence in art galleries, exhibitions and publications in the 2000s.

Professionalisation

New tertiary-trained craftspeople ensured that the professionalisation of craft continued. Graduates had professional expectations, and innovation characterised their attempts to establish their reputations. New collective studios, workshops and galleries appeared as young craft artists supported each other and introduced their ideas to the nation’s consumers.

Commentators

Through the work of writers and historians such as Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Damian Skinner and Ann Calhoun, a stronger sense of New Zealand's craft history was established. Senior craftspeople gained recognition and new generations of makers began to reflect on their position within a unique local craft tradition.

Object art

The 2000s saw the term 'object art' put forward as an alternative to 'craft' or 'craft art' as a way of describing contemporary craft practice. This can be seen as part of the continuing desire to delineate between amateur and hobby crafts, and the critically engaged contemporary craftsperson.

In 2004 the critical mass of contemporary craft culminated in the establishment in Auckland of Objectspace, New Zealand's first public gallery dedicated to craft and design. Under the direction of Philip Clarke, Objectspace set out to provide a programme that could support the work of craftspeople, designers, curators and other crafts professionals.

Masters

Since 2011 Objectspace has held an annual exhibition series called Masters of Craft. The exhibition celebrates craft and design practitioners who are leaders in their fields and whose work is distinctive, challenging and lasting. Ceramicist Richard Parker (2011), jeweller Kobi Bosshard (2012), interior designer Nanette Cameron (2013) and graphic designer Mark Cleverly (2014) have been profiled.

Amateur revival

In the 2000s craft became popular again with untrained amateurs who wanted alternatives to mass-produced consumer items. Textile crafts were sometimes used to make feminist statements about continuing gender inequality and to critique the low value placed upon crafts traditionally associated with women. Modern craft fairs such as Wellington’s Craft 2.0 were popular.

How to cite this page:

Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Lucy Hammonds, 'Crafts and applied arts - Craft as object, 2000s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/crafts-and-applied-arts/page-10 (accessed 13 November 2019)

Story by Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Lucy Hammonds, published 22 Oct 2014