Tag Archives: Christopher Frayling

Assignment 5: Research ~ Hampton Manor

In preparation for the assignment, throughout part five I took a few photo’s of textiles in context that I encountered in my day to day life. I’ve included these photographs with some analysis of the textiles in my physical learning log (see pictures below):

Photograph of pages from physical learning log.

Photograph of pages from physical learning log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also did the same for some of the photographs I took during my afternoon at Hampton Manor:

Examples of annotated photographs and research in physical learning log.

Examples of annotated photographs and research in physical learning log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Textiles in context: Hampton Manor

 

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Hampton Manor is a ‘country house and restaurant’ situated in the small village of Hampton on Arden, between Solihull and Birmingham. My husband used to work there and it was one of the first places that came to mind when considering an environment where textiles play a key role.

From my last visit to Hampton I remembered that textiles were used to create a sense of luxury and welcome, there were velvet upholstered chairs, silk or satin curtains and bold patterns covering cushions. I asked the current Head of the House, Joshua Oakes, if it was possible to visit to  take some photographs and ask questions about their use of textiles. I was kindly allowed to spend an afternoon photographing not only the guest rooms (there are fifteen in total), Peel’s Restaurant, their afternoon tea room and lobby area.

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As I went around the Manor, and in the course of my questioning, it became clear Hampton Manor was undergoing a change in terms of it’s aesthetic. It was interesting to discover how important textiles are in creating an new aesthetic and environment which sought to celebrate The Arts and Crafts Movement. In this assignment I want to explore their transition from one aesthetic to another, and touch upon how they are using textiles to reflect values from The Arts and Crafts Movement. I think that the shift towards a ‘hand-crafted’ look within Hampton is part of a general trend against what Guardian Journalist Justin McGuirk called, ” a culture surfeit of branding and cheap mass-produced goods” the end is result is that we, “romanticise the hand made because we yearn for quality not quantity”. McGurik’s article makes the claim that the mass population will not be able to afford the cost of paying for higher quality goods, “we’ll be seeing more crafted industrial goods coming our way, as we lust after craftsmanship we can’t afford and disdain the industrial products we can”. If this is the case, then the luxury sector, and I consider Hampton Manor to be a part of this, may well be the area to champion goods created by a new wave of designer-makers.

I took a truck load of photographs whilst at Hampton, and I’ll include them all in this post purely so it’s clear that I took plenty of primary research before then selecting which were appropriate for the assignment essay…

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Project 2: Considering Craftsmanship

I’ve been trying to work my way through reading, On Craftsmanship towards a new Bauhaus by Christopher Frayling. If I’m honest there’s a lot that I’m struggling to get a grasp of but here’s an attempt to distill a few reflections upon reading so far.

The first two chapters feel more like a consideration of the history and culture of Britain as we entered industrialization. I think the reason for this is to address the idea that we are in fact mistaken in our understanding of craft, we think of craft or craftsman as a occupation enjoyed by many pre-industrialization.  When in reality ‘craftsmen far from being typical workers of the past era, accounted for less than ten per cent of the medieval labour force….in modern society there is far greater scope for skill and crafts-manship than in any previous society’. (p.65 quoting Robert Blauner in Work Satisfaction and Industrial Trends).

He uses the example of the craft potter, today seen to be someone working from traditional skills and challenges our notion of this being a highly prized craft in a bygone era;

“For, although pottery is today the most popular of handicrafts, it played a negligible part in the economy of Merrie England…When clay was worked by medieval craftsman, it was mainly to produce tiles and bricks for those who could not afford stone’ (p.65 Frayling, 2011).

If as Frayling suggests we are nostalgic for an era or way of life that never really existed the next question is why? And who is responsible for the prevalence of what Frayling calls ‘the mythology of craftsmanship – the myth of the happy artisan, the myth of paradise lost and the myth against all evidence that craftsmanship is an exclusively rural occupation’ (p.58-59 Frayling, 2011)?

Perhaps the answer lies in the trend towards language associated with craft in advertising. Apparently the use is so widespread that (this would’ve been in 2011 the time of the books publication);

“a recent survey of the state of language devoted a whole section to the word ‘crafted’ as one of those words in everyday vocabulary which ‘beguile as well as inform’. ‘When advertising people use “crafted” as a substitute for “manufactured”, the survey went on ‘they are attempting to delude the public into believing that something has been made by hand in a carefully old-fashioned way'” ( p. 61,Frayling, 2011).

He mentions ‘a series of 45-second films promoting Hovis on television’ as ‘the campaign that made the fullest use of this strategy’. He goes on to say that these adverts make the ‘mass produced goods associated in consumer’ minds with brass bands in rural Yorkshire during an early part of the century, bakeries run by craftsmen….to beguile the supermarket shopper into believing that it is as good today as it has always been’ (p.62, Frayling, 2011).

I wasn’t familiar with the adverts he was referring to, which led to an odd session of finding clips of Hovis adverts on YouTube. I think the ones below are those he was referring to;

 

Now I do agree with the general notion put forward, advertisers do have a lot to answer for in terms of attaching the word ‘hand-made’ or ‘crafted’ to mass produced goods, and in doing so have fixed this word into our language.

However I also think that the rise in craftsmen or designer/maker’s is also behind the surge in this terminology. I think there is a surge in people turning their hands to craft, and in my mind websites like Etsy or Folksy, have given a place for these people to sell their works (and therefore promote them and the concepts alongside it) to the general public in a way never seen before.

I also think the underlying issue isn’t simply nostalgia, it’s a desire for connection, and a desire for stories. Which leads me nicely on to looking into designer/makers which have used stories as part of their selling point or craft…