Morgan Williams

We live in a time where muesli can be artisan, beer crafted, experiences curated and thinking abstract.

The language of art has pervaded our vernacular to such an extent that conversations about bread or art could both easily be confused.  In the quest to sell products or services ‘marketing land’ has scraped every corner of our cultural landscape for inspiration.

The connection between the wheels of industry and art was first highlighted by pop artists of the 1950’s. Warhol’s soup cans encouraged us to celebrate mass culture and advertising via art.  Today the lines are ever blurred as artists use the techniques of advertising to self-promote and vice-versa.

 What about craft?  We held our annual Makers Market at our gallery in December leading up to Xmas.  It got me thinking about the connection between art and craft.

Traditionally craft has been defined by the ability to follow a set of defined instructions to produce a result.  While crafts can be utilitarian in nature, they have edged ever closer to the art world in recent times.

Mechanisation of production in the nineteenth century meant that human hands were no longer required as much to reproduce identical ceramics, textiles, metal, wood etc.  This freed crafts people up to explore their chosen mediums more fully in ever expressive ways.

There was also a reaction against mass production that saw the development of a movement known as ‘art and crafts’.  Using high quality materials with an emphasis on utility and design became popular in the 1920’s and continues to this day.  

 In recent years there has again been a resurgence in hand made functional items that come from a small studio or workshop rather than a big factory production line.  Clay is one such medium that is rooted in the craft world but also has form, function and an endless array of creative possibilities.

We celebrated our local ceramicists back in September at Radius, with an exhibition of 18 local creatives who use clay as their chosen medium.  As artists find varying ways to make an income from their creativity it’s not unusual to find all manner of mediums available for artistic expression.  Everything from posters and greeting cards to cushions or jewellery can be imbued with artistic messages and visuals.

There are also artists who specifically choose traditional crafts as a medium to discuss topics. Local Hepburn artist Lauren Matthews explores trauma via quilting and embroidery as her mediums.  Quilting was traditionally seen as women’s work and has a strong connection to the feminist topics within her work.

Similarly, Kate Just uses knitting and textiles as a protest medium and to question histories of queer / feminist representation.  It has been suggested that the popular practice of Yarn Bombing is also a form of social political commentary.  While the idea of using knitting or crochet to cover objects like trees and post boxes began to decorate urban landscapes it’s now also considered a form of graffiti that sometimes incorporates social commentary and political messages within the work.

 As the worlds of art, craft and industry continue to cross pollinate and reference each other the traditional lines of distinction will possibly continue to blur.  At radius we don’t mind a few blurred lines!  So much so we setup a permanent Makers Store.  If you are local and make things drop by or shoot us a line, we are on the hunt for small bits of arty-crafty goodness we can showcase to the world!

 Don’t forget to catch our current exhibition “re:Create” a group show featuring repurposed, up-cycled, enviro themed creations from 17th Feb to 2nd March.  And then for ChillOut we host a photographic exhibition by Peter Sparkman celebrating images of our local LGBTQIA+ community and past ChillOut festivals.  2024 has got off to a flying start, hope to see you at Radius soon!


Morgan Williams is the co-director with Kim Percy of Radius Art Space. His art practice spans a 30 year period and explores a diverse range of mediums and topics.