Last week I recommended the excellent book - What they didn't teach you in art school: what you need to know to survive as an artist. By Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley - a book full of excellent, practical advice on how to survive in your chosen career.
This week, I thought I’d recommend a book that will help you think more broadly about your practice, and how to locate it within the context of contemporary craft/art/design.
Seeing Things. Collected writing on Art, Design and Craft by Alison Britton
In May the Crafts Council announced the 12 finalists for the Woman's Hour Craft Prize. And, amongst that list of innovative and exciting craft makers is one of my making heroes: Alison Britton. Her book, Seeing Things, is an array of writing spanning 30 years, an anthology of essays charting the inquisitive mind of one of craft's leading makers, writers and curators. Britton turns her attention not only to her own practice, but to the work of her contemporaries, questioning the state of craft, and visual culture, in each decade. She engages with the contextual and critical aspects of the discipline, but also asks us to consider what objects are, how we understand them, how makers create them.
In the essays where she explores her own practice and the reasons how and why she makes, we see her unpick and reassemble her making identity over again. It is so easy to see a maker's work as static, of this moment, but in this book we see things that time may hide from us - the journey and the development. In some ways this is an autobiography, but mostly it is an example of how to sustain a career: to remain fully engaged not only in your own work but in the work of those around you, to really question what is happening, to stay critically invested.
It also doesn't hurt that Britton unequivocally loves to write. Her essays are engaging and full of curiosity, her language is vibrant and a fantastic example of a strong voice coming through. And, although the writing is self-aware and sometimes self-referential, mostly you feel she is talking to you, letting you into her world and sharing her pin-sharp observations. She is great company and this book is a stimulating read for any maker who likes to consider what it means to make.
Seeing Things. Collected writing on Art, Design and Draft by Alison Britton, published by Occasional Papers
Meet Alison and see her work
Alison Britton will be talking about Seeing Things at the next Crafts Magazine Book Club event on Thursday 5th October. See here for more details. You can also see her work in the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition at the V&A Musuem, which is on until 5 February 2018.