Useful/Beautiful : Why Craft Matters?
The inaugural Harewood Biennial : 23 March - 1 September 2019
“We are surrounded by the word craft today – whether on food packaging in supermarkets or luxury brands, galleries to gift shops to hobbies at home. What is craft and why does it matters to us today: is it a product or a process? Is it always something handmade? Is it just a marketing buzzword?”
The exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, aims to challenge preconceptions, spark interest and inspire debate about the role craft can play in culture, identity and society.
Curator, Hugo Macdonald, introduces the first Harewood Biennial.
For the inaugural exhibition, we have brought together 26 individuals, workshops and brands that practise a craft. They are exhibited in different rooms on the State Floor and Below Stairs, each relating in some way to their particular location: paper in the Main Library, pans in the Old Kitchens and garden tools in the Garden Room. Some techniques, like book-binding, basket and textile-weaving, have hardly changed for millennia. Some have evolved, incorporating technology to explore new possibilities of process, form and function. From jeans to pocket knives to reclaimed furniture to glass sculptures, every exhibitor has a story to tell. This is why we have asked each craftsperson to respond to the statement: why craft matters, to them and today.
The title of the exhibition is derived from the quote by William Morris, pioneer of the 19th century Arts & Crafts movement. Morris believed social values were under threat from the industrialisation of life. Just over a century later, we are entering the age of automation and artificial intelligence. In these times of great change craft is not only something to rescue from the past, it is a powerful human process that can help us shape our future, too.
Hugo Macdonald, curator
TO LEARN MORE PLEASE CLICK HERE