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Research Projects

AHRC and Creative Scotland £442,306 (Value to University of Dundee: £442,306) 05.2005 – 10.2010

Past, Present and Future Craft Practice
Past, Present and Future Craft Practice
Past, Present and Future Craft Practice
Past, Present and Future Craft Practice
Past, Present and Future Craft Practice

Exploration of the interrelations between skill, intent and culture

Project Partners

V&A, National Museums Scotland, Creative Scotland, Crafts Council, HI-Arts, Craft Scotland, Rio, SMart,
NJD, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee City Council and The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.


Prof Georgina Follett (Principal Investigator)
Dr Louise Valentine (Post Doctoral Research Fellow)
Frances Stevenson (PhD Researcher)
Eva Peng (PhD Researcher)
Elizabeth Donald (PhD Researcher)
Tim Parry-Williams (Researcher)
Geoffrey Mann (Researcher)
Sally Moir (Researcher)
Drummond Masterton (Researcher)
Hazel White (Researcher)

Context and background

Past, Present and Future Craft Practice Craft at the start of the 21st Century had lost visibility and there was a noticeable decline in its importance internationally. This was attributed to two mutually reinforcing causes: problems associated with economic viability of producing crafts in a market geared toward mass consumption and, the decline of quality in existing practice, albeit with notable exceptions. There were also modest conceptual writings about the practice of craft in comparison to writings of craft history and theory.

Through these observations and in asking ‘Is there a future for crafts?’ the Past, Present and Future Craft Practice (PPFCP) research project identified a cultural and economic need for change within the craft discipline and to engage with the public and private sectors in various capacities to make the change happen.

Aims and objectives

PPFCP explores new directions, practices and perspectives in contemporary craft – helping to define a new relevance for craft. The project aims to expose, articulate and develop understanding of craft as a system of thinking, complementing traditional communication of craft as skilful making. The objectives include the conduct of comparative research on visual and cultural aesthetics of craft practice; development of visual methods of interrogating the process of craft practice and, the building of a European network of research partnerships with centres and institutions concerned with craft-based practice
and knowledge management.


Past, Present and Future Craft Practice Multiple exhibitions and conferences were conceived and successfully delivered, presentations at leading international conferences were given, two books were published, three doctoral research projects completed, and over 20 craft and design objects were created. Four new research methods were conceived, tested and articulated. They are Craft as Mindful Inquiry, Participatory Craft, Visual Analysis Method and Visual Craft Practitioner.

New Craft Future Voices was an international event capturing the diversity of crafts, reflecting its changing cultural and creative roles in two published proceedings. It was the first craft research event to fully integrate theory and practice, combining 250 exhibits with 50 papers. Prototype: Craft in the Future Tense is another example. Co-convened with the Victoria Albert Museum, its aim was to nurture a new dialogue for understanding the relevance of craft in the 21st century. The symposium included speakers from areas such as engineering, history, management, music and science. Craft Festival Scotland was developed as a public engagement strategy, created in response to research findings and as a vehicle for realising the impact of the PPFCP research. It brought together private galleries and public venues in the one event, offering a coherent, accessible way for the public to engage and learn about craft across every region of Scotland. A further output, the Craft Creative Development Bursary was developed in partnership with Creative Scotland. It invested in professional practitioners at the mid-point of their careers, seeking to raise the level of innovation in their practice and capture new markets.

The PPFCP project has now become part of the thinking being developed for the V&A at Dundee project, which has taken the research and applied it to the strategic thinking for innovative programming for the building, which is due to open in 2015.

PPFCP - click here to download PDF description