The Power of Making exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a stunning display of crafted works of art that juxtaposes the digital and the physical.
Power of Making, the V&A and Craft Council’s much-talked-about collaborative exhibition, provides a fascinating window on the landscape of ‘making’ in the 21st Century. It asks questions about the role of craft in our modern society, a role that is too often overlooked, through the exhibition of 100 crafted objects including a life-size crocheted bear, a dress made from pins, a lego dissected frog, a life-like marzipan baby and handcrafted puppets from animated film Fantastic Mr Fox.
Interpreted clearly and concisely with insightful graphics, Power of Making tackles different issues to do with making by grouping objects with similar attributes together, tackling topics such as scaling, casting, new tooling, human motion mimicry, fixing and remaking. Traditional crafts such as dry stone walling, millinery and cobbling are represented alongside cutting edge scientific and technological creations such as facial prosthetics, interactive textiles and 3D printers.
There are objects that celebrate the whimsical nature of making, which can be a strong source of inspiration and innovation, as well as those that demonstrate the significance of making as an ‘anchor of identity’ and a means of expressing lived experience. There is tribute paid to the immense skill of traditional master craftsmen, while also looking at the application of digital processes in modern crafting.
It is a real educational trip of an exhibition. We learn that there are only three processes of making – subtracting, adding and transforming – and that making can be a means of problem solving, of survival, or artistic expression. It shows us how crafting can often be obsessive, that makers increasingly play with preconceptions about materials, techniques and disciplines by applying them in unexpected contexts, and that more often than not there is a desire amongst makers to be the best or the first at something.
There is an overwhelming sense throughout that we are being inspired and encouraged to try our hands at creating, something supported by an interesting range of events and workshops running alongside the exhibition. The idea that anyone can create, that everything is created, and that we are fast moving into an important time of knowledge sharing and cross-discipline collaboration, are excitedly demonstrated by what is, if nothing else, a tantalising collection of made objects.
Adding even more colour to the show is a hypnotic documentary film by Juriaan Booij, presented in a triptych format, showing makers from a diverse range of disciplines in action at their craft. 40 winners of an open submission film competition are also displayed, showing the breadth of creativity that exists from many varied geographical and cultural backgrounds.
Power of Making runs in The Porter Gallery at the V&A until 2nd January 2012. Admission is free.
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[Originally published on the Arts Thread blog. Republished with kind permission.]
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