Thursday 21 September 2006

First Curator's Dilemma closed

We just closed the Curator's Dilemma. In the end, 68% of respondents would accept the Director's recommendation for Hands On, while 8% would reject it. For an analysis of the reasons given for these decisions, please see the forthcoming October Craft Almanac.

Here's the dilemma again, stay tuned for the sequel.


You are the curator of a contemporary art museum with a passionate interest in contemporary craft. In the past, sadly, you have been unable to convince the director to present an exhibition in this medium. He thinks craft is nostalgic and inappropriate for a 'contemporary' institution. And there's a practical issue with the need to build special display furniture. Then one day, a proposal lands on your desk with a recommendation from the director.

'Hands on!' is an exhibition of leading designers from across the world who have developed objects with a 'handmade feel'. Reflecting strong interest in the tactile nature of objects, these designers have developed innovative manufacturing technologies that give objects the appearance of being made by hand. They enable random imperfections to emerge in the way forms are cast and surfaces are rendered. The objects include not only vessels such as vases but also objects not previously associated with the handmade such as computer casing.

The director writes: 'Seems a good international show, reflecting cutting edge technologies and subtly critiques the whole sentimentality of the handmade. And the exhibition comes with its own furniture in lovely white Corian.'

So how do you respond? Maybe it's a good opportunity to bring the issue of the handmade into the gallery. But does it imply that the actual use of hands in making is outmoded -- no longer a matter of enduring human expression but just a current fashion trend?

What would you do?


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