Tradition/Innovation: Craft and future intangible cultural heritage

Thank you for joining us for this exclusive conference to discuss and develop new ways of thinking about traditional craft skills and knowledge within the framework of how we live now and will live in the future.

Background to the Conference

UNESCO states that Intangible Cultural Heritage is: 'Traditional, contemporary and living'. Intangible Cultural Heritage tells us who we were, and grounds us in who we are. This conference will examine the 'contemporary and living' in order to create pathways to the future with a focus on the live connectivity between Intangible Cultural Heritage and contemporary craft practice.

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Acknowledging that craft practice is often placed within the context of the past, when time was taken to make an object by hand, we will build on this deep relationship between craft and Intangible Cultural Heritage. However, the intention is not to repeat what has gone before. The debate will reflect on the value of past practice through the rediscovery of its future potentials. We wish to create a climate for the resurgence and acknowledgement of the essential importance of Intangible Cultural Heritage as a valuable expression of identity and economic propositions.

The focus of the conference is on the live connectivity between Intangible Cultural Heritage and contemporary craft practice. Our speakers are drawn from an international community of contemporary makers, curators, writers, historians, academics and funders - all of whom recognize the centrality of craft in human growth and development.

Neil MacGregor, in his series ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, described recent research, which reveals that the area of the brain activated by working with the hands, making something, overlaps with the area of the brain used to formulate language. He said: “It seems if you can shape a stone, you can shape a sentence.”

2023 is the twentieth anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Heritage. In January 2022, the Northern Culture All-Party Parliamentary Group, The Case for Culture' identified the post-Covid period as a “once in a generation opportunity” to establish a “whole new vision...in which investment in the cultural sector is at the heart of plans to supercharge recovery”.

We live in unstable times, therefore it is urgent that we identify and nourish those fundamental and vital aspects that hold our culture and which we wish to pass on to future generations. Through this conference we hope to engender confidence and lay down markers for a future Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Schedule for the day

Session Time
Registration opens with tea & coffee in Oak Hall 10.00am
Welcome from Francine Norris and Professor Lesley Millar 10.30am
Session 1: Setting the scene with keynote address by Stephanie Moore 
Questions facilitated by Dr Stephen Knott
10.45am
Session 2: Presence and absence introduction by session chair: Professor Victoria Kelley    11.45am
- Emerita Professor Viv Golding
- Daniel Carpenter
- Tomohiro Daicho
followed by questions
11.50am
12.10pm
12.30pm
12.50pm
Lunch in the dining room 13.00pm

Welcome back from Francine Norris and Professor Lesley Millar

14.00pm
Session 3: Craft and Future Intangible Cultural Heritage introduction by session chair: Deirdre Figueiredo 14.05pm

- Schnuppe von Gwimmer

- Dima Srouji

- Dr Linda Brassington

- Dr David Gates

followed by questions

14.10pm
14.30pm
14.50pm
15.10pm
15.30pm
Afternoon break with tea and coffee in the Oak Hall 15.40pm
Session 4: In conversation with Dame Magdalene Odundo and Dr Gus Casely-Hayford
followed by questions
16.00pm
16.30pm
Session 5: Conference summary by Professor Geoffrey Crossick 16.45pm
Leaving notes from Francine Norris and Professor Lesley Millar 17.15pm
Conference ends 17.30pm
Stephanie Moore

Session 1: Setting the scene

With keynote address by Stephanie Moore
Chair: Dr Stephen Knott, Editor Journal of Craft Research

Museums and Collections are at a transitional point, both here in the UK and Internationally.  Attitudes to collecting and collections are changing and the question we ask is: are Museums and collections the guardians of the past and its ICH, or also leaders for the future knowledge and appreciation of ICH? We will consider how museums can develop collections by engaging with contemporary craft practice at the interface of tradition and new modes of expression. 

By identifying future practice in ICH for museum activity and collecting this session will address how a full and diverse range of practitioners, students, researchers and visitors might feel that the collection is relevant to their needs, interests and histories. Stephanie's address will establish a theoretical and practice-based foundation and outcome for the day.

Professor Victoria Kelley

Session 2: Presence and absence

Chair: Professor Victoria Kelley, Director of Research and Innovation; Professor of the History of Design and Material Culture
Presenters: Tomohiro Daicho, Emiritas Professor Dr Viv Golding and Daniel Carpenter

Museums and collections are at a transitional point, both in the UK and internationally. Attitudes to collecting and collections are changing and the question we ask is: are museums and collections the guardians of the past and its ICH, or also leaders for the future knowledge and appreciation of ICH?

We will consider how museums can develop collections by engaging with contemporary craft practice at the interface of tradition and new modes of expression by identifying future practice in ICH for museum activity and collecting. This session will address how a full and diverse range of practitioners, students, researchers and visitors might feel that the collection is relevant to their needs, interests and histories.

Deirdre Figueiredo

Session 3: Craft and future ICH

Chair: Deirdre Figueiredo MBE, Director, Craftspace Contemporary Craft
Presenters: Dr David Gates, Dr Linda Brassington, Dima Srouji and Schnuppe von Gwinner

Presentations by three independent craft makers whose work has paid a specific and evaluated consideration of the link between traditional methodologies of diasporic practice and contemporary outcomes. They are joined by Schnuppe von Gwinner who has been working with museums, fairs and in universities specialising in foregrounding contemporary craft, particularly in Europe. Together they will evidence new approaches to craft practice and its ICH.

Dame Magdalene Odundo OBE

Session 4: In conversation

Dame Magdalene Odundo OBE discusses the world influences on her practice with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Director Victoria and Albert Museum East.
Followed by a Q and A session

Professor Geoffrey Crossick

Session 5: Conference summary

A rounding up of, and thoughts on, the themes and presentations of the conference by Professor Geoffrey Crossick ex Chair of Crafts Council England Distinguished Professor of Humanities, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Chairs and presenters

The conference speakers have been drawn from the international community of contemporary makers, curators, writers, historians, academics and funders - all of whom recognize the centrality of craft in human growth and development. You can read more about each speaker by clicking on their name below.

Professor Lesley Millar

Professor Lesley Millar - Conference chair

Interim Director Crafts Study Centre
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Francine Norris

Francine Norris - Conference chair

Principal and Deputy Chief Executive at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
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Professor Victoria Kelley

Professor Victoria Kelley - Session chair

Director of Research and Innovation; Professor of the History of Design and Material Culture
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Stephen Knott

Dr Stephen Knott - Session chair

Editor - Journal of Modern Craft, Senior Lecturer, Kingston University
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Dame Magdalene Odundo

Dame Magdalene Odundo OBE - Presenter

Internationally renowned ceramicist and Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts
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Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford - Presenter

Director at Victoria and Albert Museum East
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Stephanie Moore

Stephanie Moore - Presenter

Executive Director at Center For Craft, North Carolina, USA
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Schnuppe von Gwimmer

Schnuppe von Gwimmer - Presenter

International craft curator, writer, consultant and founder of 'craft2eu'
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Tomohiro Daicho

Tomohiro Daicho - Presenter

Curator Ceramics at Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto Japan
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Professor Geoffrey Crossick

Professor Geoffrey Crossick - Presenter

Distinguished Professor of the Humanities University of London; Retired Chair Crafts Council England
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Dr Viv Golding

Dr Viv Golding - Presenter

Professor Emerita, University of Leicester, School of Museum Studies; retired President ICOM ICME; retired board member of the International Journal of Intangible Heritage
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Dima Srouji

Dima Srouji - Presenter

Jameel Fellow V&A 2022, Leads City Design Studio RCA
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Dr Linda Brassington

Dr Linda Brassington - Presenter

Textile artist; UNESCO Adviser on Blue Cloth and ICH
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Dr David Gates

Dr David Gates - Presenter

Furniture maker and Gold Award winner at the Cheongju Bienalle 2015, and a winner of the Jerwood Contemporary Makers 2010
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