Skills in the Making
Working across the curriculum
by Rob Kesseler
Contemporary craft makers are increasingly working across disciplines to investigate the natural and scientific
world or to address contemporary issues and ideas. Using these craft makers as case studies creative links can be
made between art and science, english, maths, citizenship, drama, dance, biology and history amongst other subject areas.
For example, Rob Kesseler manipulates images of plants derived from electron microscopy to present the complexity
and beauty of the natural world. Helen Carnac's work focuses on how making can inform our approaches to the world,
our philosophy and ideology. Caroline Broadhead collaborates with dancers and choreographers to produce one-off live
performances and installations.
Craft and science
Rob Kesseler: art and science
Rob Kesseler is Professor of Ceramic Art and Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and is far from being a conventional potter, often working with photography and digital images rather than clay. His work bridges the art-science divide and he calls himself an artist, explaining that ‘I work in the area where craft, art and design overlap'. The theme that links Kesseler's wide-ranging body of work is his overwhelming fascination with plant material and the natural world.
Rob Kesseler and Wolfgang Stuppy reveal the strange and ingenious methods plants use to disperse their seeds and ensure their survival.
Rob Kesseler's work focuses on images of plants and their structure; sometimes they are applied to ceramic or textiles, or stand alone.
Explorations of the structure of seeds or pollen grains, the images are based on scientific microscopic black and white digital photographs
to which he adds computer generated heightened colour to create pieces that will draw in the viewers in the same way as "a bee is drawn to
the colours of a flower." The images are manipulated to reveal what was previously invisible, resulting in what Kesseler calls "assisted reality".
Science: Specialist websites
Natural History Museum.
TED contains talks from leaders in the field of technology, science and design.
Exploratorium: science website with a section for artists, information about microscopic imaging and much more.
Cytographics: cells stills gallery.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute: site with useful science education pointers.
MicroscopyU: images of cells and information on digital imaging.
MolecularMovies: directory of cell and molecular animations.
TED lecture on pollen.
Sci/Craft activities and case studies
Artists Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl are Loop.pH. Influenced by science and in particular plants and plant movement,
their works are part textile, part sculpture and part architecture. Their ambition is to make work that reacts to its environment
in the way that plants do.
Anna Dumitriu's collaborative practice utilises textiles to explore microbiology, alongside performance, digital art, installation and philosophy.
Citizenship and textiles at KS4 addressed through the exhibition Fashion Footprints: Sustainable Approaches at the Centre for Contemporary Art
in the Natural World.
Building opportunities for extended and cross curricular learning with two secondary schools at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
Sci/ Craft Books
Adams, H.C (1999) Karl Blossfeldt. Prestel, Munich
Aldersly Williams, H (2003) Zoomorphic: New Animal Architecture. Lawerence King
Frankel, F (2002) Envisioning Science. The Design and Craft of the Science Image. MIT Press
Gamwell, L (2002) Exploring the invisible, Art, Science and the Spiritual. Princetown University Press
Haeckel, E. (1904) Art Forms in Nature. Reprinted 1998, Prestel, Munich
Jenny, H (2001) Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration. Macromedia
Kemp, M (2000) Visualisations, the nature Book of Art and Science. Oxford University Press
Moore, A and Garibaldi, C (2003) Flower Power: The Meaning of Flowers in Art. Philip Wilson
Tomasi, L and Hirschauer, G (2002) The Flowering of Florence. National Gallery of Art, Washington
Mabberly, D (2000) Arthur Harry Church: The Anatomy of Flowers. Merrell
Stafford, B.M (1994) Artful Science, Enlightenment, Entertainment and the Eclipse of the Visual Image. MIT Press
Martin, G and Laoec, R (2002) Macrophotography. Abrahams
Thomas, A (1997) The Beauty of Another Order: Photography in Science. Yale University Press
Ball, P(2009) Shapes: Natures patterns: a tapestry in three parts. Oxford University Press
Ball, P(2009) Branches: Natures patterns: a tapestry in three parts. Oxford University Press
Ball, P (2009) Flow: Natures patterns: a tapestry in three parts. Oxford University Press
Quinn, Anthony (2007), The Ceramic Design Course. London: Thames & Hudson
Weibman, E and Lourekas, P Visual Quickstart Guide: Photoshop CS4
The work of Rob Kesseler
Kesseler, R (2001) Pollinate Grizedale Arts and the Wordsworth Trust
Kesseler, R and Harley, M (2009) Pollen, the hidden sexuality of Flowers. Papadakis
Kesseler, R and Stuppy, W (2009) Seeds, time capsules of life. Papadakis
Stuppy, W and Kesseler, R (2008) Friut, edible, incredible and inedible. Papadakis
Stuppy, W, Kesseler, R and Harley M (2009) The bizarre and incredible world of plants. Papadakis
Craft and philosophy
Helen Carnac: thinking through making
Helen Carnac works as lecturer, writer, curator, conference organizer and teacher, but her primary
interest is her work as a craftsperson. Although she originally trained as a silversmith, Carnac defines
herself as a maker. She co-curated the Craftspace Touring exhibition "Taking Time: Craft and the
Slow Revolution" (2009) which takes as its starting point the issues emerging from the Slow Movement,
which developed as a response to our increasingly fast lifestyles and our unsustainable consumer culture.
Slowness is also associated with craft skills: skill which is acquired over time that cannot be rushed and is intuitively learned.
Many makers today are developing critical positions in response to consumer culture, questioning modes
of production through the development of new processes, looking at issues of stewardship and sustainability,
as well as exploring collective making and the reworking of everyday objects.
THINK TANK is a group of 9 leading thinkers,
writers, theorists, curators and makers representing a broad range of European countries. All participants are engaged
with craft and design, through writing, teaching and lecturing and include, from the UK, Tanya Harrod, writer and theorist
and Edmund De Waal, ceramicist and writer.
The Journal of Modern Craft addresses
all forms of making that self-consciously set themselves apart from mass production, whether in the making of designed objects,
artworks, buildings, or other artefacts.
Innovative Craft: working with artists, makers, curators and other arts organisations to research and
develop a programme of exhibitions, talks and events and occasionally sponsor commissions which explore new ways of connecting
people and objects and different ways of interpreting and evaluating the impact of that in the 21st century.
Craft and performance
Caroline Broadhead: craft and performance
Caroline Broadhead has developed a multi-disciplinary practice. She works across the fields of the fine and applied
arts and regularly collaborates with choreographers producing installations for live performance. She was awarded the
Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts in 1997 and was winner of the Textiles International Open in 2004. Her work is included
in numerous public collections internationally. She is Course Director of Jewellery at Central Saint Martins College
of Art and Design.
Many makers today collaborate in an inter-disciplinary way with fine artists, dancers, choreographers,
filmmakers, branding consultants and architects. This approach helps to blur the boundaries between traditional
craft, fine art, installation, live performance and other disciplines both within and outside the creative industries.
The aim is often to provide an ‘experience' rather than a finished outcome or object. Many of these makers explore the
body and our presence within a particular environment, or histories and a sense of place.