Culture Other

MAKE, folk art, and

I love MAKE: Blog. Not because I actually want to make my own automated cocktail dispenser or LED tank-top that plays Conway’s Game of Life, or even an iPod Nano arcade cabinet. But I love the fact that there are people who do these things. A while ago, I went to the Folk Archive exhibition at the Barbican, and said:

It was an exhibition of contemporary British folk art, but that term was interpreted extremely broadly; the exhibition includes (some of these are photos rather than the actual object): trade union banners, graffiti, prison art, modified cars, costumes from traditional festivals, prostitute calling cards, sectarian murals, shop signs, painted false nails, football fanzines, protest placards, crop circles, sand castles, flower arrangements…

The sheer range of objects makes it hard to know what to say. Many of them were complete tat – unremarkable examples of mundane objects – but seeing them all together one did get a sense of a huge wealth of amateur, unofficial creativity. I enjoyed it and found it curiously cheering.

Whatever you think of ‘folk art’ as a category, and whether or not you think an iPod Nano MAME cabinet fits that category, what does apply to the stuff at MAKE is “a huge wealth of amateur, unofficial creativity”. People making stuff, in their spare time, because they want to. Love it.

I admit I find it harder to be so cheerfully enthusiastic about the reams and reams of bad poetry on the internet; but even if I don’t want to read the stuff, I’m glad it exists.

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