Documents on Contemporary Crafts no.1: Museum for Skills

Design by Yokoland
A Norwegian Crafts production that offers critical reflections on skill and craft (2013)
From the seminar 'Museum for Skills', May 2012
Jørn Mortensen and Iain McGilchrist at the seminar 'Museum for Skills', May 2012


Documents on Contemporary Crafts no. 1: Museum for Skills


André Gali   ∣  Jørn Mortensen   ∣   Ann Jones

Iain McGilchrist   ∣  Trevor H.J. Marchand   ∣  Roger L. Kneebone   ∣  Jorunn Veiteberg   ∣  Erling Moestue Bugge

Museum for Skills has grown out of a conference held in London in May 2012, ‘Museum for Skills’, which was organised by ArtProjects&Solutions and Norwegian Crafts, at the British Council in London. The idea for the conference was conceived during November 2011, when Ann Jones from ArtProjects&Solutions, Russell Martin from ArtQuest, Jørn Mortensen from Oslo National Academy of the Arts, and André Gali from Norwegian Crafts Magazine, met in Oslo and discussed possibilities and challenges for the field of crafts.

Within both the fine arts and the crafts fields, there has for some time been a tendency to emphasise the concept behind the work; the thought process has been considered more important than the process of making. This tendency has resulted in both a ‘deskilling’ – a situation where skills are treated as hindering or limiting the creative process – and ‘outsourcing’ – a situation where the author of a work hires somebody else to make it. Outsourcing is also a major challenge within the European and North American art industries. Factories that have been producing textiles or porcelain for centuries are outsourcing their work to parts of the world where labour is less expensive, like China or India. When the production of art industry moves elsewhere, the knowledge and skills that the factories contained (through human resources) disappears.

In the book we seek to discuss questions like As arts professionals, what skills do we need and value?- What skills do we want to preserve for future generations?- What are the skills we need to acquire for the future?- Where can we go to learn how things are made and to acquire the skills we need? - Can art academies be museums for skills – the depositories for collecting valuable knowledge and intangible know-how?

To discuss the concept of skill and craft in a larger context we invited three academics outside the field of visual arts to see if we could get a different, potentially challenging perspective on our own area of expertise. Together with three articles by critics writing inside the art context, the book sheds light on challenges and opportunities for skills and crafts within contemporary culture.

Design by Yokoland
Design by Yokoland