Crafting Gentleness

Monday, April 09, 2007

caring, modesty, gentleness

"The fact that much of [craft] is done for pleasure, for love and not for competition, exhibition or sale, is part of its strength and value. But I also believe it is important that such work should be seen by a wide audience. The reasons for this are, first, because it provides evidence of women’s culture and history, evidence which can mean stimulus and encouragement for craftworkers. Secondly, craftwork’s existence, and the lives of women who make it, provide a challenge to the established notions of ‘great art’ and ‘great artist’. (It has long been a popular belief that ‘art’ is produced by ‘great’ individuals in special circumstances.) Thirdly, it is important to show housewives’ craftwork because it brings to the fore those values which have been missing from the cultural scene – caring, modesty, gentleness. There are not necessarily feminine characteristics, but they have, through cultural association, been most successfully represented by women. Finally, communicating through craft can give the woman tied to the home a voice outside to penetrate and influence the dominant sphere of cultural exchange. Only the housewife can give an authentic account of her life, work and material conditions. Unless we speak out, and in any form available to us, we can never hope to gain access to the means of owning and controlling the institutions of power that circumscribe and determine our lives as housewives" (Pen Dalton, 36).

Pen Dalton. 1987. "Housewives, Leisure Crafts and Ideology: De-skilling in consumer craft." in Women and Craft. Edited by Gillian Elinor, Su Richardson, Sue Scott, Angharad Thomas, and Kate Walker. Pp. 31-36. London: Virago.


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