Sept 2009 – May 2010
National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland
The Landscape of Aesthetics and Design Seminar (Seminar) came together as an experimental joint venture between National College of Art and Design (NCAD), NCAD Ceramics, Glass and Metal Department (CGM Dept), the Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoI), the Fulbright Commission of Ireland (Fulbright), and Mason Hayes and Curran Solicitors (MH&C). This undertaking was meant to address a perceived lack of critical thinking, analysis and writing skills in both graduate-level design students and established crafts practitioners in Ireland.
The Seminar was conducted between September 8, 2009 and May 31, 2010. The work culminated in a two day symposium presented to the Irish craft and design community (April 2010), titled “Inter-Changes: Craft & Context Symposium” (referred to herein as the Symposium), two related exhibitions and one exhibition catalogue (Catalogue). Nineteen Co Researchers/Participants (Participants) and two facilitators (Facilitators) took part in the Seminar. The entire joint venture was co-funded by CCoI, the Fulbright, NCAD and MH&C.
Co-directors of the Seminar were Louise Allen (Allen), Education & Awareness Manager, CCoI; Colleen Dube (Dube), Executive Director, Fulbright Commission; Caroline Madden (Madden), NCAD CGMDept Lecturer and Mary B. White (White), US Fulbright Scholar.
Facilitators Madden and White worked closely with the Participants throughout the project, organizing all Seminar activities and collaborating with Dube on the MH&C exhibition and catalogue.
The Seminar approach was based on the belief that experiential implementation of critical writing and reading skills would dramatically increase the learning capacity and absorption of ideas among established makers and Craft based MA students. The Landscape of Aesthetics and Design Seminar experiment can be used as a model for more programming that blends confidence, cooperation and creativity in the context of craft, and encourages the growth of more Irish leaders who are successful innovators and advocates for high levels of design and aesthetic in craft and further the success of the crafts community.
The positive development of Participant analytical and reflective skills were assessed by several physical outcomes of the Seminar: a public symposium on craft attended by over 200 enthusiastic makers and crafts advocates, two informative and well executed exhibitions with lecture series and an exhibition catalogue. The professionally produced 64-page Catalogue of Participant work, with images, artist statements, and bios, is an archive of the Participants’ visual and critical writing progress.