Weaving threads. Contexts of new craftsmenship

The exhibition will feature the artists’ works and photos of the artists and their workshops, showing the diverse world of new craftsmanship. It will present a summary of the “threads” of discourse between craftsmen, designers, and representatives of institutions that are working to protect and support regional crafts as part of the Innovative Craft project.

The intention of the exhibition is to show the many contexts related to contemporary craftsmanship, highlighting its economic, ethical and social dimensions. In order to organize the “threads”, the work of the craftsmen and their portraits have been grouped around four main themes: new economy, craftsmanship, identity, and personal development. “New economy” touches upon themes related to sustainable development, regionality, and the ethical conduct of craft businesses. “Craftsmanship” addresses the quality of products made by manual labor, showing the value of formal experimentation. “Identity” touches on how craftsmen interpret and explore local traditions. “Self-development” focuses on aspects of the products, the labor, and of the workshops, that are therapeutic in nature and influential in the craftsmen’s personal development. The presented groups are not limited to only singular interpretations. Most of the works shown weave several themes together. Hence the open and diverse nature of the exhibition.

From the curatorial text:

Craftsmanship is a hot topic, often featured in media about interior space, fashion, and cuisine. When used to describe a product, the word “artisanal” is considered to have a noble connotation. However, the language we use to speak about crafts is diverse, the contemporary discourse on this phenomenon can be quite intricate, and the world of new crafts is multifaceted. Its feature is pluralism. It’s characterized by a wealth of materials, techniques, and patterns, and where craftsmen can be professionals, amateurs, manufacturers, or service providers. The craftsmanship is founded on traditional patterns and techniques, but also focused on innovation, looking to find balance between art and design.

The current year has confirmed many consumer attitudes. It has led to the discussion of the basic standards, which we use to make daily choices. Disruption in supply chains has created a shift toward local production. It has also provided an opening for small-scale manufacture. We are more likely to make a purchase when we know the origin of the item, the history of its creation, and that a specific person is behind it. The threat of an economic crisis has also resulted in new local initiatives and the acceleration in global warming has shifted our preferences to buy less, repair rather than replace, and to have better quality items made of materials of known origin. Information about the material, its potential for use, and the process of creating an artefact have become as important as the end product itself.

Awareness of the material, focus, calmness, and the rhythm of work as measured by body fatigue, are all representative of the essence of a craftsman’s work. The deeply meditative nature of the work has led to outsiders’ interest in visiting handcraft workshops. Craftsmanship meetings are an increasingly frequent alternative to other forms of recreation and team trips organized by companies or institutions.

Yet another reason for the major interest in crafts is the pandemic-induced compulsion to stay at home and the ever-present digital array of online classes, teleconferences, and virtual walks. The house has become especially important, and our response has been to surround ourselves with tangible objects—literally tangible, with a texture that you can feel under your fingertips. Beauty, quality, and structure have gained importance, and the interior has become a way of expressing our personality.

Of course, craftsmanship is not a panacea for the condition of the modern world. However, with manual work that takes the environment into consideration, the unique handcrafted items can and should become an alternative to the mass-produced ones.

Local artists from Cieszyn, representatives of the so-called new craftsmanship operating in the Nów. New Craft Poland, as well as other craftsmen whose products best illustrate the idea of ​​new crafts, were invited to participate in the exhibition.

Craftsmen and artists whose works or portraits are presented at the exhibition:

Karina Królak, Kufa Design, Magdalena Maślerz, Tartaruga, AR Szkło, Square Drop, Monck Custom, In Weave, Bogdan Kosak, Olga Milczyńska, Mosko Ceramics, Aleksander Oniszh, Kuźnia Barona, Maciej Gąsienica Giewont, AZE Design, Kosmos Projekt i OIena Prokopiuk (dla Stowarzyszenie z Siedzibą w Warszawie), Serfenta, Jerzy Wałga, The Whole Elements, Kłosy/Knife Doctor, Wood WorkShop, Aanda.

The exhibition is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland

03.12.2020 – 07.02.2021 Zamek Cieszyn, Oranżeria

Curator: Monika Osinkowska / Nów. New Craft Poland

Texts and photos curator: Małgorzata Herman / Projekt Pracownie, Nów. New Craft Poland

Photos: Karolina Lewandowska, Radek Zawadzki / Projekt Pracownie,

Coordination: Lubomira Trojan, Anna Kaleta

Set design: Marcin Krater / Wzorro Design

Graphic design: Anna Kaleta

Photos: Rafał Soliński

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