Craft ACT has coped remarkably well against the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us and I felt it was important to celebrate the successes of our artistic program in this beautiful annual.
When Canberra went into lockdown, I made the decision to continue to install our exhibitions in our gallery, even though we were closed to the public. This prompted us to develop new skills in presenting this beautiful contemporary craft content online.
From our homes, connected by Zoom, the small but always mighty Craft ACT team learned to create a whole new collection of quality content which could be accessible to audiences who were no longer able to visit the gallery in person.
We have found many silver linings throughout the challenges of this year: more time to connect with the community, many acclaimed artists remained in our city throughout the year and became available for commissions, and audiences shared our commitment to support local, buy homemade, helping to generate much needed income for artists – one of the most impacted sectors across Australia. Because we were mostly unable to host our popular exhibition opening events, we were able to extend our invitation to write exhibition essays to writers and speakers outside of Canberra: in the case of acclaimed craft curator Glen Adamson, outside of Australia.
This ‘pivot’ has ensured that artists’ practice has been sustained, with quality exhibitions and reviews to add to their cv. But, importantly, this strategy also produced enduring content for artists and the community including videos, interviews, articles and essays, photo library, e-catalogues and more. We can now enjoy these exhibitions for years to come.
Craft ACT produces six exhibition blocks each year, plus additional signature exhibitions in the DESIGN Canberra festival. I am pleased (and relieved) to note that my decision to persist with our exhibitions paid off: all but one block of exhibitions was able to open to the public (in line with social distancing requirements). As a result of new online engagement and an increased appetite for quality creative experiences, we achieved very strong results for participating artists: media coverage increased, as did gallery sales, including works purchased by collecting institutions.
We have compiled this beautiful annual to share the quality exhibitions from throughout the year, and the fascinating essays commissioned. Quality discourse and written engagement with the arts is essential and we are pleased to have been in a position to generate new essays in contemporary craft and design this year.
Over your holidays, we hope you have some time to enjoy this e-publication to either revisit some of your favourite exhibitions, or perhaps enjoy them for the first time.
It has been an honour to support the Craft ACT and broader craft and design community during these challenging times. In many ways, our contemporary craft community, which is built on a culture of collaboration, mentoring and exchange, knows better than most that we have a greater advantage when we work together and this year has been no exception.
CEO + Artistic Director