Museum for Skills

Past Project 2012

A one-day conference in May 2012 examining the role and value of skills in the crafts, and how we go about acquiring the skills we need.

As humans we identify the need, invent and then develop the skills and tools to make.  Man has come a long way from the rudimentary stone tools of the Palaeolithic period of 2 million years ago to the ability to make and use the rapid prototyping machines of today.

As arts professionals what skills do we need and value? What skills do we want to preserve for future generations? And what are the skills we need to acquire for the future? Where are the depositories for collecting valuable knowledge and intangible know-how?

Museum for Skills brought together thinkers and practitioners from outside of the arts who each have specific interests in skills, their development and future.  The resulting talks and discussions aimed to provoke new and unexpected thinking on what skills the arts sector needs for the future and how we can use them.

Keynote speakers and films

Dr. Iain McGilchrist 

A former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Dr Iain McGilchrist is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and former Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal & Maudsley Hospital, London. He was a Research Fellow in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. He has published original articles and research papers in a wide range of publications on topics in literature, medicine and psychiatry. His most recent book, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World was published by Yale in November 2009.

Professor Trevor H.J. Marchand 

After completing a BSc in architecture (McGill) Trevor Marchand worked as an architect in London, Ahmedabad and his native Montreal where he designed and built private homes. With the support of a CIDA Award for Canadians, he conducted research on traditional dwelling and building practices in the Hausa Emirate of Zaria, Nigeria (1992-93). His subsequent PhD in anthropology (SOAS) was grounded in long fieldwork as an apprentice minaret builder in San‛a, Yemen. With support from the British Academy, Marchand returned to West Africa, this time working as an apprentice mud mason in Djenné, Mali. In 2005, he was awarded a three-year ESCR Fellowship to study vocational education in the UK and produce a cross-cultural comparative analysis of contemporary craft knowledge with previous work in Arabia and Africa. The project included two years of full-time training as a woodworker and furniture maker at the Building Crafts College in East London. Most recently, he has been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to carry out an intensive study among woodwork trainees on the complex and evolving relation between brain, hand and tool. Trevor Marchand is Professor of Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London.

Professor Roger L. Kneebone PhD FRCS FRCSEd FRCGP

Trained first as a general surgeon, Professor Roger Kneebone worked in both the UK and in Southern Africa. After finishing his specialist training, Roger decided to become a family physician and joined a group practice in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. In the 1990s he developed an innovative national training programme for minor surgery within primary care, using simulated tissue models and a computer-based learning program. In 2003, Roger left his practice to join Imperial College London. Rogerʼs research focuses on the contextualisation of clinical learning. His current research is around the use of lightweight, low-cost yet immersive clinical settings for training and assessment. Working with a multidisciplinary research team of clinicians, computer and social scientists, design engineers and prosthetics experts he has developed an ʻinflatable operating theatreʼ which opens up new perspectives on simulation. Roger is also researching the impact of stress upon surgical performance, using high fidelity simulations to create and manage stress under controlled conditions. Roger Kneebone is Professor of Surgical Education at Imperial College London and directs the UKʼs only Masters in Education, (M Ed) in Surgical Education, which started in October 2005.

At the end of the day, a panel discussion brought together all the keynote speakers and many of the discussions held throughout the day.

The conference was chaired by Jørn Mortensen, Dean of Visual Arts at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO). Breakout discussions were led by Professor Neil Forrest of NSCAD and KHiO; Rosy Greenlees of the Crafts Council; Professor Jorunn Veiteberg, Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen; textile artist Franz Schmidt, curator Daniel Charney; jeweller Sigurd Bronger amongst others.

Musuem for Skills was a collaboration between Norske Kunsthåndverkere, Artquest and ArtProjects and Solutions.  The conference was generously hosted by the British Council.