November theme of the month on GoUNESCO – Arts and Crafts

How do we define crafts? Craft, in its simplest form, is defined as a product made by hand requiring particular set of skills and tools. Craftsmanship is the skill required in creation of these crafts. Tangible and intangible heritage merge as crafts are tangible manifestations of the intangible (craftsmanship). 

Initially, the focus of conservation was craft products but now it has been established that it is the craftsmanship (intangible heritage) that need to be preserved due to globalisation and actively promoted for the very sustenance of the craft itself. The theme of the month is “Arts and Crafts” but what defines an artist or a craft maker as so? Or even divides an artist from a craft maker? A possible answer that I very much liked is provided by Windsor (2009) stating that “Art is craft that leaps into a metaphor. True art evokes meanings and emotions far beyond what the viewers observe. Craft remains the underlying basis of art, but no matter how well done, is merely what it looks like”.

Still, the distinction is blurred even from artists’ and craftsmen’s points of view.  

November Task

You can either submit your own article here or perform one of the following tasks from below:

Task description – “Which craft or craftsmanship represents your culture the most?”

For this task, you can decide to focus on crafts (the product) and/or craftsmanship (products’ creators).  The objective is to write a 500-word article (the minimum number of words is 500 otherwise the article won’t be accepted!). 

How to write it? You have two different ways to do so, decide either point 1 OR 2

1. Interview form and transcript: 

While we appreciate the tangible craft product, we often overlook the people working behind the scene. Therefore, this topic requires you to engage with the local craftsmen in your area.
Identify a craft native to your area, meet (formally or informally) the craftsman or visit a workshop/museum/local shop to understand and appreciate the production process and, most importantly, interview the craftsman.

Your interview must include the following:
– 10 questions to the craftsman regarding the craft;
– Pictures taken with the interviewee and the crafts (this is compulsory to demonstrate that the interview took place);
– History and significance of the craft for this person and the local community;
– Inquire about the plight of the particular craft and craftsmanship in this age of globalisation and mechanisation.


2. Research on the craft, online and/or offline: 

Do you own a local craft that was bought as a souvenir from your travels abroad or within your country, a “precious” object your family owns? A souvenir or a locally made craft embody the culture of the place. Fish around your treasured items bought during your travels or the ones you own. 

Write the November task article about one such craft item by looking at the:
– Historical background of the craft and the place it is native of;
– The cultural traditions woven around it;
– Its significance to the particular culture and region it belongs;
– Your personal view point or attachment to this craft.

Outcome: 

Crafts appreciation; Discovery of local craftsmen; Art and culture appreciation.
Here are two example articles showing our cultural appreciation of, respectively, Russian Matryoshkas and Lithuanian traditional cross-crafting:
– Russian Matryoshkas by Jessica Scodro: https://www.gounesco.com/matryoshka-origin-symbolic-meaning/
– Lithuanian traditional cross-crafting by Marco Romagnoli: https://www.gounesco.com/lithuanian-traditional-cross-crafting/

Let’s make heritage fun!

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