MC: What makes my experience specific is my background as a maker and educator with the additional perspective of a person of colour growing up in multicultural Britain. My role is as a Maker Trustee but my field of expertise before I was a maker was in Education as a former Head of English, Inspector and more recently working on the new government T Levels in Craft and Design. Consequently, I have a unique insight into ways that the Crafts Council can work with the education sector, both formally through schools and through outreach work with young people. One of the things I noticed when I was a Talent Ambassador for The Crafts Council was the difficulty in finding young people from a black and minority ethnic background graduating in the arts; what was needed was a strategy starting at school age to embed craft into the curriculum. Craft needs to be championed from multiple perspectives, be it directly in schools, as a role model or more strategically within institutions like the Crafts Council.
Majeda Clarke becomes Crafts Council trustee
Design-Nation member and award winning weaver and textile designer Majeda Clarke has recently been appointed as a maker trustee for the Crafts Council, news that is very welcome. Majeda is not only a maker of considerable skill and vision, but also a great role model for our sector as a second career maker, a senior educator and ambassador for craft and young people, bringing this diversity of experience to her work. Majeda’s special blend of Bengali and Welsh heritages is evident in distinctive and beautiful pieces such as The Albers Blanket, selected for our 20 Makers, 20 Objects showcase last year. We asked Majeda about her new role.
Design-Nation: What attracted you to becoming a trustee for the Crafts Council and what do you hope to achieve?
Majeda Clarke: I knew when the post came up that I wanted to be a part of shaping the relationship between makers and the Crafts Council. I’ve always had a huge respect for the Crafts Council and the role it plays in supporting new makers in particular. After all, as a former Crafts Council Hothouse participant, I owe a lot to their support. However, there is still much the Crafts Council can do to widen their reach and diversify their membership with a more targeted approach. As a maker of Asian background I’d like to actively engage in bridging the gap between the Crafts Council, makers who feel the Crafts Council doesn’t represent them and accessing a wider audience who are interested in craft. I see the role of a Trustee as a critical friend and the position enables me to have a voice to ask the right questions.
DN: As a maker, what do think is special/distinctive about how you will approach this role?
DN: What do you believe are the most important issues facing the UK craft sector today?
MC: Obviously the double hit from the Pandemic coupled with Brexit has left many in the sector in a precarious position struggling to maintain a viable practice. The emotional and psychological strain can’t be underestimated and will take years to overcome. Organisations like the Crafts Council and Design-Nation play a huge role in supporting makers in this time. In the broader context, there is much to do in developing a more regional approach to supporting makers for often opportunities can be very London-centric. The issue of diversifying the craft sector by widening access to craft for people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds is particularly important to me as my own experience shows – of someone who came to craft late in their forties due to economic and cultural barriers. I had to follow a different path to become a maker and am acutely aware of the risks that had to be taken to achieve my ambitions.
DN: What are you looking forward to most in 2021?
MC: Oh just being able to open up my studio, meet people and engage face to face with the world again would be the best thing to happen this year. Let’s hope we can soon.
Majeda will be taking part in the Cockpit Arts Open Studios in Holborn London 25 – 27 June 2021, either virtually, or preferably in person. Look out for announcements soon.
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