Artisans and activists in the world of handmade crafts

Posted by pt91 at Nov 02, 2016 04:56 PM |
Sustainability and social justice in the crafts to be explored at University of Leicester from 8 – 11 November

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 2 November 2016

Bake-off and sewing bee enthusiasts have fuelled a revival of traditional crafts, but a week of events at the University of Leicester will explore whether they could also be part of a cultural revolution.

A celebration of the world of the handmade, from sewing to craft beer, will explore its relevance to sustainability, micro-economies and social activism from 8-11 November.

‘CAMEo Craft Cultures: Exploring the contemporary significance of craft’ is co-organized by Dr Jennifer Smith Maguire and Dr Jessica Bain, for the CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies and with additional support from the British Academy and Hawke EU Centre for Mobilities, Migration and Cultural Transformations.

We are witness to a revival of interest in the hand-crafted and authentic, vis-à-vis consumer desires and behaviours; a commitment to the passion and skill of craftmanship and artisan skill within the sphere of production; and a celebration – and critique – of craft and creativity as engines of 21st century economic models and pathways to alternative, more sustainable and just social futures.

Dr Jennifer Smith Maguire, Associate Professor in Cultural Production and Consumption, said: “Objects made in traditional or non-mechanized ways have recently gained in visibility and currency, from the handmade crafts on websites such as Etsy to the ever-changing selections of craft beers in micropubs.  The significance of craft is bound up in ideas and ideals of craft as skillfulness and the power of ingenuity, the transformative potential of pleasure in making, and the desire and satisfaction associated with doing things well.

“Craft taps into widespread interests in authenticity, creativity and the tangible pleasure of making. It therefore provides a fantastic opportunity to bring together groups of people that might not otherwise intersect: the general public, researchers from multiple disciplines, makers and artists, and craft hobbyists and entrepreneurs.”

Dr Jessica Bain, Lecturer in Media and Communication, said: “Craft and the act of crafting can have a transformational impact, on individual lives, on creative enterprise, and as many of our events will explore, on society more broadly. It can, for example, shift people’s perceptions of their own consumption practices, can provoke conversations about sustainability, and of course, it can generate feelings of well-being and joy through the simple act of creating!”

Events will include a workshop ‘Making a Living from Craft’ by local textile artist Ruth Singer on 8 November which will explore aspects of employability in the creative sector, and a one-day symposium on ‘Contemporary Crafts and Textiles Research’ on 9 November.

The keynote speech at the symposium will be given by Kate Fletcher, Susan Luckman and Nicola Thomas and will explore ordinary practices and use of craft, implications for sustainability in the fashion sector, examinations of craft work and craft micro-economies.

A talk and workshop by Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective will follow on 10 November, in which she will present the use of craft as a tool for activism and social justice that she calls “gentle protest”. The week draws to a close, naturally, with drinks, or rather, a one day interdisciplinary symposium on the meaning of ‘craft and the artisanal’ for craft drinks including but not limited to natural wine, craft beer, traditional cider and small batch spirits.

CAMEo, the Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies at the University of Leicester, was launched in 2016 to provide new understandings of the cultural industries, the ‘creative economy’, the arts and media, cultural policy, consumer culture dynamics, and the mediation and representation of cultural and economic life.

CAMEo is an interdisciplinary platform for academic research as well as for collaborations with culture and media practitioners. Together with a wide range of partners they explore the diverse and complex ways in which cultural and media economies are being defined, valued, enacted, experienced and represented.

Professor Mark Banks, CAMEo Director, said: “Craft Cultures will help showcase the role of the CAMEo Research Institute in producing great research, not only on craft, but on the cultural and creative industries more widely. We hope people will come along to contribute to the conversation on craft but also to discover how to work with us on other new and exciting projects in the future – and we invite anyone with an interest in making and consuming different kinds of culture and media to participate.”

Anyone interested in the cultural and media economies is welcome to join CAMEo’s conversations. Visit their website on or get in touch via


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Dr Jessica Bain on

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