G25: The relationship between rich and poor

“I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”

William Morris (4 December 1877; before the Trades Guild of Learning in “a dismal hole near Oxford St”)

Issue #25 in December 2021 will gather stories that connect together the worlds of rich and poor, gallery and shop.

There are two worlds.

On the one hand, there is the world of the gallery. Artists work in studios to produce original objects that are displayed in exhibitions. Each object has a unique title. Collectors purchase those objects, which are then kept in museums or homes. These objects can then be documented in publications that tell a history of that medium. Artists are produced by universities who develop their creativity and understanding of the field in which they will work.

On the other hand, there is the world of the shop. Craftspersons work in workshops to produce multiple objects that are sold in markets, shops or online. Rather than unique titles, they are given a generic label, such as “wooden spoon”. Anyone can purchase those products which are then given as gifts or kept in the home for everyday use. Over time, these objects can acquire memories and stories. Training is available in a variety of forms, such as technical colleges, apprenticeships, university degrees, workshops and YouTube videos.

From the perspective of the gallery, the objects in the shop are of little value. They don’t contribute anything original to the creative field.

From the perspective of the shop, the objects in the gallery are irrelevant. They cater to an elite market that use their collections solely for the purpose of impressing each other.

Questions include:

  • Is there a world where both spaces can co-exist?
  • Are there ways of valuing the everyday utensil?
  • How does the art world contribute to the everyday world?
  • How can we counter the cultural extractivism of aesthetic and knowledge capital?

Stories can feature objects that:

  • Give value to the everyday utensil
  • Connect the elite gallery with communities
  • Offer alternative ways of exchanging objects
  • Make splendour and extravagance accessible to all

You can find guidelines for submitting a story here. The deadline for stories is 1 November 2021. Please let us know in advance of your idea here. If you’d like to be a pathfinder and share the development of this issue, please complete this form.

Some objects for thought…

Kôgei between Japan and Brazil: The ceramics of Shoko Suzuki - Liliana Morais follows a Japanese ceramicist who built a kiln in order to make a life between Japan and Brazil.
Ikebana: A flower arrangement in search of poetry - For Shoso Shimbo, the meaning of Ikebana goes beyond art and design.
Phayao a Porter: A jacket from Jakkai to Vipoo - Thai artist Jakkai Siributr is using lockdown to take commissions for artfully embroidered jackets. One of these is for the venerable Vipoo Srivilasa.
Kanta Kadse ✿ Khajur ki pattiyo - Our May Laurel goes to a broom maker from Madhya Pradesh, whose elegant implements bring beauty to the home.
Taller Grulla ✿ The forest at hand - Our January laurel goes to a Chilean workshop that makes objects for daily life inspired by earth and forest. 
Futaba ✿ Living with a broken beauty - Wakana Yanagida profiles the Japanese vlogger who celebrates the pleasure of living with handmade objects.
Kumarisari ✿ Buy forward fashion - We learn the thinking behind an innovative approach to India's vibrant market in saris, applying circular economy principles.
What brought Hermie Cornelisse back to pottery - Linda Fredheim interviews legendary Tasmanian potter Hermie Cornelisse about her return to making after a decade working in a shoe shop.
Art for life ✿ The hanging garlands of Pompeii according to Dylan Rogers - We talk to Dylan Rogers about his discovery of the true significance of the garlands that feature in Pompeii murals.
Kimono o’clock: The watchstrap artist - A striking example of "living craft" is Tong's incorporation of heritage Japanese textile into something you wear every day on your wrist.
Masahiro Sasaki ✿ Glass comes first - The glass artist Masahiro Sasaki follows the Japanese way of craft, or kogei, where materials comes before concept. 
Seikatsu Kogei: The Japanese carpe diem of the arts - Madeleine Thomas finds the embodiment of simple beauty known as Seikatsu Kogei in the presence of woodworker Ryuji Mitani from Matsumoto, Japan.