In recent years an array of community-oriented craft initiatives have emerged, including makerspaces, online networks and campaigns to repair, rather than replace, consumer goods. Enabling peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge, tools and materials, these non-capitalist initiatives disrupt industrial production and resist the individualisation inherent in consumer culture. Their ethos of openness places them within the realm of the commons: a versatile concept of collectivity being explored in a multiplicity of practical and academic contexts.

The Crafting the Commons network brings together makers, curators and academics to creatively interrogate intersections between craft practices and emergent academic research on the ideas, stories and politics of the commons to develop new understandings of craft and generate further practical craft-as-commons propositions.

The network has informed the development of We are Commoners, a major touring exhibition by Craftspace. Academics with expertise in craft/design and commons are participating in the network alongside the exhibition’s curators and commissioned makers.

In summary, the network investigates three research questions:

  • What forms of commons can be created or animated through craft, making and repair?
  • What are the political dimensions of these practices, and what is their transformative potential?
  • What mythologies and narratives are drawn on in the creation of these ‘craft commons’, and how are these translated into social and material practice?

Crafting the Commons is led by Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd (Nottingham Trent University) and Dr Leila Dawney (University of Exeter) in partnership with Craftspace and Midlands Arts Centre, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The exhibition and accompanying catalogue, online symposium, video series and academic articles, along with this website, publicise the network’s findings.


Curators and partners: