Faculty of Art, Media & Design   » Faculty of Architecture & Spatial Design    
Faculty Courses Research Archive

How to Apply
News & Events Archive

Short Courses
International Students

Staff Research
RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

Paul Harper
The Poetics of Making

Conference contribution

New Craft - Future Voices
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
University of Dundee

July 6, 2007

Proceedings: ISSN: 1899837558

New Craft - Future Voices programme

In this paper I assert that at a time when we are seeing a new wave of writing on the crafts, many makers express a sense of alienation from critical discourse and of dissatisfaction with the language of discourse. For some, far from illuminating or feeding their practice, it is disempowering. I argue that in the conventions of critical discourse craft is elusive because it is so rooted in a world of experience, of materials and processes, of things and the life of things.

Whilst many makers will shy away from theoretical writing they often find their experience evoked in other forms of writing and whilst makers will often say that they don’t think of their work in theoretical terms, they will be able to offer a considered explication of what they do. Indeed, they will often talk about their work in startlingly evocative terms, and the idiom is usually the subjective language of poetry.

I argue that it is important for makers to contribute to discourse and for that contribution to be properly valued. Furthermore, that if makers are to engage confidently, usefully, meaningfully with critical debate, then we need to develop a confident voice and a language that we not only feel comfortable with but which is actually up to the job.

I argue the need for research tools that make accessible makers accounts and explore the potential of digital video as a methodological tool to aid the analysis of practice, by which aspects of craft practice can be more roundly externalized for research, reflective and curatorial purposes.

I demonstrated the potential of digital media, not just as a tool for documenting practice, but also for revealing the ways in which the context and the processes of practice contribute to meaning. I outlined the critical context for my research and showed excerpts from case studies. I discussed some of the methodological questions that have arisen during the filming and editing of the material.

This paper describes my research and presents a polemic, which arises from my on-going enquiries. It relates to the paper Lost for Words given by David Gates of London Metropolitan University, and to the interests of the research group Practice and Voice.

read the full paper:

The Poetics of Making

visit the New Craft - Future Voices website

related outcome:
David Gates: Lost for Words

back to Paul Harper home page

London Metropolitan University