Skills share workshop - Crafts abilities Network Day 2

The second day of the Crafts abilities network event took place at the Loughborough in London campus, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, on the 5th July 2018.

The event was attended by delegates from the Southern African Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) and practising academic craftspeople and designers from the School of Arts, English and Drama (SAED) and Loughborough Design School (LDS), Loughborough University and Aston University.

The SAFOD and UK delegates were matched together: Mussa Chiwaula, Batik Botswana, was matched with Simon Downs, painter, digital artist and graphic designer (SAED); Rita Malangeni, Crochet, South Africa, matched with Sarah Green, Crochet and Textiles (SAED); Shadreck Ndlovu, weaver, matched with Jenny Pinski, Leatherwork, Textiles (SAED) and Kerri Akiwowo, Textiles (SAED). George Torrens (LDS) and Tim Whitehead (Aston University) facilitated the discussions.

The day involved delegates discussing their area of crafts followed by answering two key questions:

1) "What are the challenges for people, able-bodied and disabled who want to earn a living from making crafts?"

2) "What are possible solutions to these challenges?"

The discussion highlighted a number of key points:

1) The needs of disabled artists and crafts people are very similar in the UK and Southern Africa, for able-bodied and disabled alike;
2) The need to identify a market for their artefacts that will pay a fair price for their work;
3) Making it easier to produce artefacts;
4) Training of new disabled artists and craftspeople;
5) Celebrating the quality of ideas and concepts produced, as well as the heritage crafts used to create products and works of art;
6) Ways of reframing society's viewpoint of disabled craftspeople (as 'no-person' disabled and in some cases because they are female), viewing their work more inclusively; and,
7) Exploiting the many opportunities to share knowledge, skills and ideas through dialogue using different communication formats and technologies.