Last week we were in North Wales where we’d booked an apartment in Anglesey, on the coast between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris for a family holiday. It’s only a couple of hours drive from home (or a bit longer during holiday times as the A55 gets chocker with traffic at the weekend) and we couldn’t get into the apartment before 4 o’clock, so we decided to break the journey by visiting the historic town of Ruthin, in the Vale of Clwyd. We parked up by the Ruthin Craft centre where we had a bite to eat in the excellent little cafe before taking a look round the current exhibition.
The Craft Centre is something of a hidden gem. Located in a modern building on the outskirts of the town centre (on what used to be the site of the railway station before the line was closed back in the 1960’s) it has craft studios, gallery exhibition spaces, restaurant, craft library and, of course, a shop. Most of the craft studios seemed to be unoccupied (due to economic factors, no doubt) so it’s not really a place to see craftspeople at work. But it has a good, airy display space and they always seem to pull together a good programme of exhibitions which straddle the border between “craft” and “art”
The latest exhibition – Basketry: Function & Ornament – with works on display by 30 “creators”, had opened the day of our visit and was a good example of how “craft” and “art” are not necessarily different categories, but part of a continuum. The Craft Centre’s website tells us that the exhibition
brings together functional vernacular work from various parts of the country, alongside pieces that are sculptural and ornamental. It is a survey of a craft that has been somewhat sidelined in times of great technological advances, yet offers a sustainable answer to so much of our modern day throw-away habits.
Some of the works were traditional baskets and the like, all beautifully made,
but many of the works were artistic, sculptural forms that were decorative rather than utilitarian. There were some exquisite pieces – works of art created using traditional craft techniques.
Back in the late 1970’s my sciencey (new word!) friends mocked my Arts courses at university usually with the phrase “Are you taking another Basketweaving 101 class?” to insinuate the lack of value, purpose and relevance of anything to do with earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. I look at these beautiful objects, some functional, and smile. The skill and imagination required to create these lovely pieces of art is equal to any math equation or chemistry formula, neither of which could hold a basket of eggs.
Well, despite being someone with a BSc(!) I sympathise with your viewpoint. I was a “science chauvinist” in my youth (despite always being an avid reader of literature and history) but have learned the importance and value of art.
I think the “two cultures” are both important and one benefits from the other. Scientists who belittle art lack imagination and science without imagination is sterile.
North Wales. You just can’t keep away 😉
Last few years I’ve mainly dashed through to catch the boat to Dublin, but now I’m trying to rectify that!
Needless to say, I shall be in north Wales again myself next month.
Now why doesn’t that surprise me? 😂
Sweeden obviously not enough to satisfy your restless soul 😉
I particularly like the Lizzie Farley pieces, and of those my favourite is the middle one. Such movement!
Yes, they’re simple but very expressive