We Made it
Tucked away in a warren of residential streets in the older part of Guildford, The Old Glassworks looks like a lock-up garage, and seems to have been designed to repel unwanted attention with a private force-field of anonymity. Once you've been welcomed inside, however, you find yourself in an improbable wonderland of mysterious musical instruments, from lutes and rare 17th century guitars to members of the violin family in various states of deconstruction.
Basket-making is one of the world’s oldest and most universal crafts. It predates pottery by thousands of years and features in tall tales from the very beginnings of recorded history. According to a creation myth from ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonian god Marduk made the earth from wicker scattered with dust – and since then many lesser beings have constructed traps, shields, furniture and storage vessels by weaving together whatever plant or animal fibres they had to hand.
What is 'We Made It?'
The eternal question of where “the arts” start and end is, of course, central to a lot that theartsdesk's writers think and talk about. Our focus may be on the traditional framing provided by gallery, concert hall, stage, screen or recording media, but we are always interested in the ways that the ideas and processes of the arts permeate into other fields. That's why we have, for example, placed video games alongside established artforms – and it's why we have created the new mini-feature series We Made It.
We Made It was inspired by discussions with friends at Bruichladdich distillery who had been developing ideas about how to explore the concept of craft in the 21st century on their website. As we brainstormed, we realised that this was a rich seam: the theme of craft and making allows us to reach into the worlds of technology, food, architecture, design and highlight some of the most interesting thinkers and makers active today, whether they're working with processes ancient or hyper-modern.
Further, though, we realised that in a time when “artisanal” and “hand-crafted” are becoming debased terms, nothing more than signifiers for a hip aesthetic, the people we were looking at were those who swum against the tide and embodied something deeper: a sense that artisan and artist are one and the same. So, not only could theartsdesk's writers help Bruichladdich with their project, but this could be something worth including on our own site – and so this series was born. Over the weeks we hope it's going to build into something which doesn't just showcase uniquely fascinating people and their work, but casts light on the deeper ideas and mechanisms that make creative processes work today.