Power of Making

2011-10-03 V&A 03

When I was down in London I’d also made it to the Power of Making exhibition at the V&A (which Ros Clarke had mentioned, thanks!). It was a small exhibition, but packed with all sorts of creations, modifications, ideas, innovations; it was just fantastic.

The textile arts were well represented. There was a giant aran rug, hanging about 10 feet high with each stitch about 2 inches wide (talk about gauge!). What’s really special is the artist had scaled up the entire process, from spinning up a whole lot of merino into ‘rope weight’ yarn, to knitting it up with gigantico needles which she made herself. There was quilting using magnetic tape (the label said tape stock but it looked like film stock, either way something magnetic). There was a crochet-dermy bear (think life size, like taxidermy, but crocheted), and a beaded dress where the beaded pattern made up a QR code that you could scan with your phone, which took you to the website of a singer (for whom the dress was made).

One of the ‘buzzwords’ was 3D printing, which just seems to be increasingly popular in general. There were several exhibits of 3D printers in action, but many of the pieces on display were created using 3D printers as well. It seems like at some point everyone will have 3D printers at home, just like computers. Another thing that really struck me was the crossover and overlap of different skills. For one thing it is always nice to see and appreciate the creativity and beauty in ‘scientific stuff’ like glass eyes, space suits, and anatomy models. But even in describing the ‘textile arts’ above I’ve mentioned woodwork, magnetic tape, QR codes, and taxidermy. I think this melding of skills is something that artists and craftspeople have been doing for a long time, but this concept is also now being taken further and explored as a skill and art in its own right.

There was so much to take in, but it was so inspiring as well. I was very taken up with one of the main ‘notes’ in the exhibition, which described making as three simple things: adding materials, subtracting materials, and/or transforming materials. Just like that and you’ve made something new. It also got me taking pride in my own making more, even something as simple as arranging flowers in a vase – which is basically taking two materials and transforming the space between them. In that vein I’m also grateful to Natalie for getting us to appreciate our making, and ourselves, a little more with her brilliant Making Mondays.

Photographs weren’t permitted in the exhibition, but I did get this awesome fella standing guard outside, made from wire coat hangers.
2011-10-03 V&A 04

As for my own making, with all the airport/plane/tube knitting I managed to motor through my little toddler dress and it’s almost done.
Toddler dress 06

Just need to do the edgings around the neck and arms, and then the final bit of fun – picking out buttons!

1 thought on “Power of Making

  1. Oh, it does sound wonderful. I must try and find time for a trip to London to see it. I loved the adding/subtracting/transforming way of viewing craft as well.

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