Monday, 6 February 2012

Is it Fine Art or a Craft? Grayson Perry and The Power of Making

Entering the ‘Power of Making’ exhibition you automatically get a sense of craftsmanship, its full to the brim of work which has had a lot of time taken over it, you can see hours of work being poured into all these pieces in this one little space. My favourite was the ‘Heatherwick Studio, snowflake address and Christmas card’, it was a beautiful piece which was handcrafted perfectly and very delicate, the definition of craftsmanship to me. The Grayson Perry exhibition ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Crafts’ shows the same level of hours being spent on the work, but I saw it all as fine art pieces, more extraordinary in the meanings that come from the pieces. With the running theme of a teddy bear called Alan Measles who has a main role throughout the exhibition in pieces of work by Perry, this seems more of a craft made into a fine art piece. Its very well considered, but the piece entitled ‘Hold your beliefs’ where Alan Measles is a guru of doubt doling out good advice, I see as Perry using his imagination and this to me is fine art more then a craft. Its skilled but not in the sense that it’s a trade well known in society as a skill. Sarah Jane Williams is an craftswomen who’s work was shown in the ‘Power of Making’ and she designs British handmade suitcases which are in unusual shapes. They are in forms of curves, ‘L’ shapes or in squares in boxes built into them, which makes them different to others. This to me constitutes as a craftsmanship as it would take a long time to develop the skill to create these as a piece, using specialist machinery not just having an idea and making it straight away. Perry in his exhibition has a piece called ‘La Tour de Claire’ which is a shrine made of pebbles, flints and other pieces he’s found on a beach and he said that it reminds him he can make art from hardly any money and at the kitchen table. This is a skill as the shrine was beautifully made with incredible detail, and the use of materials would make it surely more difficult to create. I thought it was lovely, understated and looked very good in the exhibition. However you turn the corner and in a little ceramic glazed coffin is Perry’s pony tail he cut off, this is no doubt ably a piece of fine art wanting attention, as there is skill in the ceramic coffin but to put his pony tail in it isn’t. Compared to the beautifully made hand crafted ‘Widow Dressmaker Pin Dress’ by Susie MacMurry there is no question which one constitutes as fine art and which one doesn’t. I think there is a very fine line between the differences of fine art and craftsmanship and both these exhibitions have one of them, to me Grayson Perry’s exhibition is fine art and The Power of Making is definitely identified as a craftsmanship exhibition.

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