Article by Robert Wiley, Invited Assistant Professor at Department of Conservation and Restoration FCT-NOVA

Before we can write, even before we can speak, we humans are makers.  We paint with our fingers, we draw with sticks in the sand, and we even accompany ourselves with song. Our crafting is a part of our developmental process. Just as everything that we have sensed and interacted with along our lives becomes a part of our individual stories, the artifacts and knowledge resulting from our craft reflects our collective stories.

Today, while we look to the highest levels of technology to tell us about the universe we inhabit, we likewise look inward, into our craft traditions to tell us about ourselves. This is the challenge of the 21st century, and our gift for the future.

Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Nova School of Science and Technology are home to a group that along with the wider Craft Hub community, will take up the call to look to our heritage of crafting, but in the most sophisticated of manners. The Portugal center, led by the VICARTE Research Unit in Glass and Ceramics for the Arts, will engage specialists and practitioners in the making of artifacts while working to uncover knowledge.

Artists and Crafts persons will be afforded the opportunity, through hybrid style residencies (online and in person), to not only reach back across time with the aid of materials analysis and assemblages of recipes and other documents stemming from Technical Art History, but to also bring their own craft skills to bear on material and conversations. This will lead both the makers and the specialists −investigating object cultures and processes− to new and promising intersections of skill that will strive to create new areas of knowledge and to preserves those at risk of extinction.

The ease with which digital communication can be harnessed in events like these means that the objects, discoveries, doubts, answers, and new questions will be spread like seeds in the winds.  We look forward to seeing some of you along this crafting journey and to seeing what grows along the way.