Putting your thoughts and ideas into writing can be so difficult. There are so many ways to articulate what you want to say and it can be a real challenge to decide which way is right.
I love art and visit a great many exhibitions of art and craft through the year. I have even previously talked about some of these through this blog. Yet I am aware that maybe my writing doesn’t quite measure up, but how to improve? A morning workshop at The Craft Study Centre in Farnham, Surrey (http://www.csc.ucreative.ac.uk) could be the answer. How to Write about Craft is a two and a half hour workshop facilitated by Professor Simon Olding, the Centre Director and assisted by Sara Roberts a freelance craft writer and curator. There were six of us in attendance with an even split of artist/makers and writers each of us keen to learn how we may improve our writing skills. The workshop opens with a short practical exercise followed by discussion with examples about writing styles. After a break for tea and biscuits there is a final task in store – find an object in the Centre which inspires you and write about it in no more than fifty words, and you only have 20 minutes to do this before presenting it to your peers! With so much to choose from a simple task suddenly becomes fraught with difficulties. What to choose? I settled on a 3 brooch set by Australian artist Anna Davern (http://annadavern.com.au/blog/transplantation) which forms part of the ‘Transplantation’ exhibition (http://www.nationalcraftanddesign.org.uk/touring-exhibitions).
On first look Davern’s pieces appear like novelty items, little bits of kitsch frippery. Look more closely and they become more unsettling, still quirky, but the animal heads set atop human bodies in 18th century costume is unnerving. At this point you realise that these pieces are comments about the colonisation of the New World. How on earth can such a weighty and big subject like that be summed up in fifty words? I came up with this:
“Anna Davern’s quirky 3 brooch set offers up an unusual approach to the serious question of colonialism. Old biscuit tins are cut and reformed into a set of highly imaginative, provocative brooches that challenge pre-conceptions associated with the colonisation of a new wild country by an old established civilisation.”
The Duke of Devonshire 2011. Reworked biscuit tin, sublimate printed steel, garnet beads, silk thread, copper. 120x60x5mm Copyright Anna Davern. See more of her work on her blog http://annadavern.com.au
Sharing your words with others is always nerve wracking and I was a little relieved when they were well received by my peers. Everyone had tackled it in a different way, from lists of descriptive words to the MA student who described a pot in such vivid detail that you could feel it in your hands as you gazed at it in the glass case in front of you, and the literature student who wrote a poem about a charger plate that transported you to another continent.
A morning well spent where I learned much about writing style, met some interesting people and looked at some beautiful objects, and maybe my writing has improved as well!