My project examines the exhibition of craft since the 1970s, and analyses the ways in which different display contexts have defined what craft is. While the exhibition of craft is an emerging field of study, the range of contexts, agents, practices, and strategies of display demonstrates that making has become a powerful tool to engage with contemporary issues and new audiences. My research thus pinpoints key trends in craft exhibitions with the purpose of assessing the pervasiveness, along with the artistic, cultural and social relevance of craft in the last five decades. The project’s temporal focus is from the 1970s to the present day.
The definition of making has occupied several scholars from the twentieth century onwards, and particularly in the last twenty-five years. The difficulties in outlining the field are evidenced by competing and shifting perspectives. With respect to the longstanding divide between fine art and craft, some authors have emphasised the specific character of making vis-à-vis art and design, while others have highlighted the relations between craft, art and industry, along with the diversity and fluidity of making practices. My PhD does not aim to define what craft is, but instead focuses on exhibitions as devices that define craft. This approach allows me to analyse where craft is displayed, who displays it, what and how it is displayed.