CRAFTING THE COMMONS




June 2019 – May 2021
Funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council

Principal Investigator: Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd (Nottingham Trent University)
Co-Investigator: Dr Leila Dawney (University of Exeter)

Project partners: Craftspace and Midlands Arts Centre
In recent years an array of community-oriented craft initiatives have emerged, including makerspaces, online networks and campaigns to repair, rather than replace, consumer goods. Enabling peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge, tools and materials, these non-capitalist initiatives disrupt industrial production and resist the individualisation inherent in consumer culture. Their ethos of openness places them within the realm of the commons: a versatile concept of collectivity being explored in a multiplicity of practical and academic contexts.

The Crafting the Commons network brings together makers, curators and academics to creatively interrogate intersections between craft practices and emergent academic research on the ideas, stories and politics of the commons to develop new understandings of craft and generate further practical craft-as-commons propositions.

The network will inform the development of We Are Commoners!, a major touring exhibition by Craftspace which will open at Midlands Arts Centre in September 2020. Academics with expertise in craft/design and commons are participating in the network alongside the exhibition’s curators and commissioned makers.

In summary, the network will investigate three research questions:
  • What forms of commons can be created or animated through craft, making and repair?
  • What are the political dimensions of these practices, and what is their transformative potential?
  • What mythologies and narratives are drawn on in the creation of these ‘craft commons’, and how are these translated into social and material practice?

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue, a podcast series and academic articles, along with the network website, will publicise the network’s findings. A sharing day in October 2020 will share stories from the network and provide space for attendees to develop their own thinking about the transformative potential of commons thinking, in the craft sector and beyond.