'The Politics of Craft: After Ford 151' takes as its inspiration the notion of Arts & Crafts as a resistance movement, charting its evolution through modernism to become a cornerstone of our understanding of the contemporary design object. 'The Politics of Craft: After Ford 151' is a story of the failure of the political ambitions of craft and design; utopian ambitions in tandem with an uncomfortable relationship between the hand, machine and economics. The exhibition engages with historical ideas relating to both mass mechanical reproduction and craft, in order to encourage the notion that contemporary art and design should have a use. It presents Grizedale Arts’ own politicised history of design - a brave new world of objects and ideas that serve as a provocative reassessment of the Arts & Crafts legacy.
The title of the show references Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in which a dystopian, or ‘negative utopian’, future defines itself through the machine age. Huxley dates this era to the birth of Henry Ford, the inventor of the mechanised production line; therefore as Ford was born in 1863, this exhibition begins in the year A.F. 151.
The central structure within the exhibition is a representation of the ceiling of St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, as interpreted by the GSA Mackintosh School of Architecture’s own Sutherland Hussey. The piece also forms a tribute to former tutors Isi Metzstein (1928-2012) and Andy MacMillan (1928-2014), the architects responsible for St Peter’s Seminary’s original design. The ruins of St Peter’s have recently been acquired by Scottish arts organisation NVA, who are now in the process of re-invigorating the building to forge a utopia of their own.
The exhibition was curated by Jina Lee and Adam Sutherland and first shown as part of Grizedale Art’s fifteen-year retrospective; ‘The Nuisance of Landscape (2014)’. The exhibition was most recently displayed at The Glasgow School of Art, and ran from 7 Feb - 8 Mar 2015.
An accompanying text by Michael Davis can be read in the pdf below.After Ford 151 Exhibition Text 1
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