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25 April 2017
Seminar Series 13: Lecture 6 - Annie Warburton
Location: The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU
Annie Warburton, Creative Director, Crafts Council
'Can Do - Flourishing in the 21st Century'
The great maker, designer, writer and social activist William Morris’s central concern was ‘how we live and how we might live’. In the 21st century, what can craft practice tell us about the idea of a life well lived? Drawing on recent research on learning-through-doing, and on projects that bridge craft and health, this lecture explores what craft contributes to eudaimonic wellbeing – to flourishing lives.
Despite a heralded ‘march of the makers’, contemporary society and our education systems continue to privilege book learning over learning-through-doing. We value ‘knowing-that’ over ‘knowing-how’. Craft offers, by contrast, an embodied engagement with the physical world, a sense of agency derived from experimentation, learning from mistakes, dedication to quality and skilfulness, physical feedback, and grounded repetition. Craft connects us to ourselves, to each other and to the world around us.
Specialists in health, engineering and technology are increasingly recognising the value of craft, and collaborating with makers to combine different knowledge and skill sets to discover breakthroughs in response to ‘wicked problems’. In the UK and overseas, meanwhile, a number of social enterprises working with disadvantaged young people are running craft-based projects to teach not only practical skills but also to shape a more expansive notion of prosperity, rooted in fulfilment, meaningful work, and purposefulness. At the centre of such projects is a combination of development of personal agency and a community through craft.
This lecture draws on these examples to explore the relevance of craft’s trinity of ‘head, heart and hand’ to wellbeing.
Annie Warburton is Creative Director at the Crafts Council, where she leads on exhibitions, education, innovation and research. Recent work includes States of Play, Hull City of Culture 2017; Nature Lab at Design Miami/Basel; Innovation through Craft strategy with KPMG; and the education manifesto Our Future is in the Making, launched at the House of Commons. Annie began her career at the Crafts Council of Ireland, and has led artist and creative development as CEO of ArtsMatrix and at Creative Skillset, with the BBC, Channel 4 and the British Fashion Council. She is an associate of Newnham College, Cambridge and a governor of William Tyndale School.
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