Q&A with Catriona Pollard of The Art of Weaving
How has technology impacted the practice of craftspeople? Any examples you would like to discuss?
While technology such as 3D printing has opened up interesting opportunities for craftspeople, the most significant change has been social media. The connections and networks that social media platforms create has transformed the craft industry. Not only by creating a sense of community around the maker, but connecting to buyers. Social media is a natural platform for storytelling which works perfectly for makers and craftspeople. The back story, materials, processes and provenience is the power that craft has that mass produced objects don’t have. It’s why people are drawn to it, and become active participants. Through social selling, makers can now bypass traditional outlets and sell directly with minimal commissions.
Why is craft important in a digital age?
Craft is the connection between our past and present, and is more important now that ever.
I believe it’s the combination of how digitalised our lives have become and how high-speed we all seem to be has resulted in people looking for arts and craft practices that reconnects them with slower, traditional creative experiences.
Traditional craft practices help us slow down, quieten the mind and put us in touch with our inner wisdom. This is particularly important in this digital age where we spend so much of our time on multiple devices, constantly connected and often focused outwardly.
Because of technology, virtually everything we buy is mass produced which has led to a ‘consumption’ culture. Interestingly, I think craft plays an important role in questioning this homogenised view of the world.
The very nature of craft - the beauty and uniqueness it explores - highlights how differently we all see things. It helps us appreciate that many different points of view expand our world view. It also helps us overcome business and life challenges and different perspectives are essential in dealing with the complexities of everyday life.
How does craft do good in the world – why is it needed now more than ever?
Craft keeps traditional techniques alive and allows for a reinterpretation of them. For basketry, the craft originated from traditional methods with specific utilitarian uses such as a basket to carry wood. Now, we can use the traditional techniques to explore, play and create.
Craft allows learning and expression through our hands – beyond the visual and cerebral. Engaging in slow and creative activities such as craft has been proven to benefit the brain by working both hemispheres. To be happy and healthy we need to actively tap into logic and problem solving, but also the creative and imaginative side of our minds. This type of creativity allows you to use your hands to think, to listen, to feel, and tap into the creative side of the brain. It also has positive wellbeing benefits, such as brain health improvement, lower stress levels, better operation at work, and a stronger sense of self.
For me, exploring craft practices has led to a deep sense of joy by connecting and reinterpreting nature. In fact, I also use my art to comment our society’s current disconnection with nature. Walking down the street with your only view being the piece of glass in your hand checking Facebook means that you’re missing the moments in time that nature gifts us; a beautiful sunset, the sun through the trees or leaf drifting by in the breeze.
Craft practices can help you reconnect with your imagination, and give you new insights and perspectives. The key is to slow down and see what beauty emerges.
Take a Sculptural Random Weave class with Catriona Pollard, Sunday 15 October, 10am to 1pm.
More information here.
Images: Courtesy Catriona Pollard
Words: Penny Craswell