Nordic Cohort image by Ann Jones

Practice Makes Perfect: Nordic debate

1st April, a round table discussion hosted by  Kingston University. 

The third and final Nordic seminar "Practice Makes Perfect" is being planned for Spring 2011 and will explore ways to support artists and makers make challenging new work. This will be hosted by Kingston University. 

Exploring the boundaries of disciplinary territories and pushing the limits of personal practice often requires access to equipment, technology and expertise that most practitioners - emerging or established - find beyond their means or capabilities. 

Practice Makes Perfect is a day of presentations and dialogue aimed at curators, practitioners, commissioning bodies, further education and research institutions, studio facilitators and industrial partners who are already involved, or interested in exploring, innovative ways to commission, facilitate and assist with the production of logistically complex projects by contemporary practitioners. 

Inviting three distinct organisational bodies from the public and industrial sectors across Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and considering existing models of practice here in the UK, Practice Makes Perfect aims to generate debate around how best we might assist practitioners with the creation of ambitious new work.


BRAZIL: the cultural contemporary

Friday 21 January 2011, 10:00-17:00

Generously hosed by the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore,
London SW7 2EU


This conference was the result of research undertaken in Brazil in spring 2010 and was developed in partnership with the Royal College of Art and was curated by the RCA's Martina Margetts Senior Tutor, Critical and Historical Studies.


Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and a complex history and identity. The conference aimed to inform a UK-based audience about Brazil's contemporary visual culture, with a focus on areas of craft, design and social change. Key speakers from across the globe were invited to present.

Adélia Borges, the leading Brazilian design writer and curator, gave  the keynote lecture on Brazilian contemporary craft and design and their context.

Frederico Duarte, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Scholar, discussed social projects led by academics and

practitioners, drawing on his extensive recent primary research in Brazil.

Bronac Ferran, Senior Research Tutor in the department of Innovation Design Engineering at the RCA and former

Director of Interdisciplinary Arts at Arts Council England, focused on hi-tech creative projects in Brazil.

Tristan Manco, designer and author of Graffiti Brasil, analysed the relationship between street life and cultural development through graffiti and graphics.

Kiki Mazzuchelli, writer, curator and Brazilian PhD researcher (TrAIN/University of the Arts), explored the

influential legacy of Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), who integrated European modernist and Brazilian vernacular

cultures in her architecture, design and projects.

Cristiana Tejo, coordinator of Education at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco and an independent curator based in Recife, north-eastern Brazil, lecturef on the artist Adriana Varejão, renowned for her painted tile installations as a discourse on Brazilian postcolonial experience.

MA students from the Department of Design Products at the RCA - Maximillian Gubbins, Attua Aparicio, Sarah

Colson, Alexander Groves -  presentrf on their environmental design project with top designer

Marcelo Rosenbaum in Sao Paulo last summer and their response to current craft/design issues in Brazil.

Justin McGuirk, award-winning design writer for The Guardian and former Editor of Icon, was the Respondent to the conference papers and included reflection on his own recent experience of Brazil.

Chair and convenor: Martina Margetts, Senior Tutor, Critical & Historical Studies, RCA.



Language and Craft : Nordic debate

Tuesday 13 July 2010 10:00–16:00
School of Jewellery, Vittoria Street, Birmingham B1 3PA 

Craft has an unstable identity because it covers such a wide diversity of practices. But it is also a liberating hybrid practice operating at the interface of design on the one hand and fine art on the other. This day event has been developed in partnership with Craftspace and School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University. We will be debating the language we use to write and talk about craft and asking - Does the language we use impact upon its monetary value and its value as a form of creative expression in comparison to fine art? Forming Ideas has invited 3 notable speakers to give presentations on this theme.

Anne Szefer Karlsen is Director of Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen, which was established in 1976 as the first artist run art centre in Norway. The centre has a residency programme open to international artists, curators and writers.

Dr. Christian Schoen was the director of CIA.IS between 2004 and 2009. He curated the Icelandic Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2007 and 2009, and was responsible for the publication Icelandic Art Now. He currently runs kunst-konzepte.

Professor Jivan Astfalck is a jewellery designer and Professor at the School of Jewellery. Jivan was a contributor to Craft in Dialogue, published by IASPIS in 2005. Jivan will illustrate her ideas through a specially curated exhibition to be shown at the School as part of this event, artists will include David Clarke, Katharina Moch, Eija Mustonen, Auli Laitinen, Benjamin Lignel and Jivan herself.

Each speaker will pose a question for the audience to debate in small groups, coming together again in what we hope will be a lively exchange of views chaired by Professor Jack Cunningham, Head of the School of Jewellery at Birmingham.

Forming Ideas is a curatorial development programme funded by Arts Council England and managed by ArtProjects and Solutions.



Craft and Identity: New Nordic Developments 


Saturday 15 May 10:20–13:30 

Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4SQ 


Craft has an unstable identity because it covers such a wide diversity of practices. But it is also a liberating hybrid practice operating at the interface of design on the one hand and fine art at the other. This chaired debate will explore the impact of national history and context on the identity and value of craft in the Nordic countries and the UK. 


Forming Ideas invited five notable speakers to discuss these issues with an invited audience within the context of Collect.


Karen Kjærgaard, Architect and curator presentrf on The relationship of craft to product design in Denmark. She questioned whether craft value is enhanced by its ability to contribute to economic success. 


Dr. Widar Halén, Director of Design and Craft, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway will looked at the ways in which the work of contemporary craft artists relates to traditional Norwegian craft methods, shapes and expressions. 


Katarina Siltavuori, Co-founder of Galerie Norsu, Helsinki will asked whether the political context of the Nordic countries diminish the market for craft as art and how a gallery like Norsu markets both? 


Tanya Harrod, Co-editor of the Journal of Modern Craft and Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art, London examined how far national identity and history has an impact on the content and form of craft in the UK? 


Harpa Pórsdóttir, Director of Hönnunarsafn Íslands Museum of Design and Applied Art, Reyjavik was to look at the identity of craft in a country such as Iceland with a short history of craft practice? Due to adverse travel conditions (ash cloud) Harpa was unable to attend the conference.

Khamseen: Cairo conference

8 and 9 July 2009, The Ismaili Centre, London SW7

Khamseen (sandstorm in Arabic) explored how art and craft practice in Cairo is impacting on society through the work of contemporary practitioners and innovative art projects. It questioned how society can nurture traditional skills whilst remaining open to innovation. Why Cairo? Because in Cairo today we have a model where the recognition of the value of traditional skills is in resurgence and is playing a pivotal part in the regeneration of Cairo and artistic practice across the Middle East. Khamseen will brought together leading artists and professionals to discuss the context for this change and how it might relate to contemporary practice in the UK.

 "I had this vague conviction that every human being was born an artist, but that his or her gifts could be brought out only if artistic activity was encouraged from early childhood by way of practising a craft...” Ramses Wissa Wassef, architect

Presentations included:

Dr Amr Abdel Kawi - Editor, ‘Magaz’ design magazine
The power of the individual to affect change

Ikram Nosshi - Director, Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, Cairo
Craft as a social document   “The creative energy of the average person is being sapped by a conformist system of education and the extension of industrial technology to every sphere of modern life.” Ramses Wissa Wassef, architectArtists

Susan Hefuna, Khaled Hafez and Azza Fahmy will present and discuss:

How do artists approach tradition and innovation in their practice and how do their personal histories impact on their practice?

William Wells - Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and Dina Bakhoum - Aga Khan Cultural Services, Egypt presented and discussed: 

"Practices of engagement and specificity of location"


Other speakers included: Aleya Hamza, Rose Issa, Charles Merewether, Glenn Adamson and Venetia Porter 


For summaries of Dr Kawi and Mr Noshi's papers please go to Articles




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