Gormley and Frayling on designing and making stuff

This morning there was a great piece on Radio 4 “Start the Week” which had interesting conversations by important thinkers. I want to transcribe a few sections here before it gets lost but for those in the UK you can listen again for a few days here

Sir Anthony Gormley “This is a real subject of passion for me, I think it’s absolutely essential that there is a continuity between design and making and I try and make the majority of my work here. But I work for example with a foundry in Halifax in Yorkshire, Halifax in the sixties had fifty two foundries, there are now three, and actually if we don’t keep them going we are really going to be screwed, and the fact is I was very sad when Dyson decided that all of his production was going to go to Singapore because it is the link up between doing the drawing and then having the things made that needs a continuity and that’s the very thing that could reinforce our manufacturing.”

“In building the Angel of the North this was a totally linked up project…we got back the shipbuilders that could make the bough bulges to make it’s bum and make it’s head. You know how do you turn 6.5cm ship plate into a compound curve? Well you do it by spraying it with ice cold water and at the same time heating it with an oxy acetylene flame, it’s like playing a violin, it’s a skill, but we found those skills back and what did we do? we ended up making this thing that was in some ways an extreme act of confidence in this community’s future….I think that what’s happened with the Swan Hunters is that those skills have had to find new outlets but they are still there and with a new idea of what to do with them they can flourish, and that’s my point that we don’t have to say we can export all that industry elsewhere.”

Sir Christopher Frayling “Ruskin gave a wonderful lecture called the two paths in I think the 1870s where he talked about the roots of art education being the head, the heart and the hand. The head work is all the think work that the Victorians did, and they certainly did a lot of thinking about design, the hand thing is about craft and the heart is about having your finger on the pulse of contemporary culture but also personal expression and Ruskin argued the best kind of art education brings those three things together, the head, the heart and the hand, thus we bring out the whole person. I think there have been moments in the history of art education where one or other of those things have been overbalanced, too much headwork in Victorian times, too much handwork in the arts and crafts period, and the heart really letting rip in all sorts of ways since the 1950s. A balance between those three concepts is I think the future of art education.”

2 Responses to Gormley and Frayling on designing and making stuff

  1. Rob November 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    I tuned into that one too – an interesting programme. With regard to Dyson making vacuum cleaners in Singapore, designer Ron Arad, who was also on the programme, seemed to get off lightly for making his chairs in Italy, claiming that there was a tradition of small artisanal craft shops in Italy that we don't have in the UK. I think there are plenty of people in this country capable of moulding a plastic chair.I also was struck by Andrew Marr's comment that 'No one ever bought one of your chairs because they wanted a chair.' Having just googled his chairs I begin to see what he meant. Not exactly Windsors, are they!

  2. Stewart November 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    That's an interesting bit about the Angel of the North – it's something I've seen but never truly thought about.