Has Academia Hijacked the Crafts...?

Dear Brian

Thanks for your comments about the Marion Marshall article on
our web site.

We also agree that there is a kernel of truth in what she says,
(in fact what she says is frighteningly accurate, always a Marion
Marshall attribute, as is her willingness to say it) although, as
the national body for the crafts in Australia, we are bound to be
catholic in our discussions and to be open to all sides of the
argument. And I hope that some academics and curators might take
the time to respond to her comments.

As the national body, however, we do have great concerns that
the commitment to the teaching of skills, technique, materials
knowledge, and the history of craft is slowly being eroded in
many of our tertiary institutions. There are many reasons, of
course, one being resources, another being the lack of expertise
and education in these areas by many academics in charge of such
courses, and yet another being the issues Marion discusses - the
gradual taking over of the making of art by the talking and
writing about art.

We at Craft Australia place the maker at the heart of what we
do, and try to respect that - but I am sure that at times even we
inadvertently slip up. But our key driving force is still the
viability of the craftsperson and crafts practice, and I am
afraid that this is not necessarily the driving force of many
other organisations related to the crafts, or supposedly
supporting the crafts.

I am very glad to see that our decisions to put such articles on
our site does evoke responses, and we would be very interested to
have the comments from your discussion group go onto our site. I
think you would find many people here would respond in an
interesting manner to the comments made by the people on your
mail list who responded to Marion’s article.

You also are welcome to post articles and comments on the site,
as it would be very good to have broader discussion coming from

I note that Phil Byrne has responded to you about subscribing to
your list, and I wait to see what happens next on that front. I
think it would be good to have the discussions which happen be
seen on our site, somehow, to make them as public as possible.
Phil will keep me informed.

Best wishes

John Odgers
General Manager