Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out of Print

Trying to rest my arm, I made my way to Ben's work library and "met" a book after my own heart. It's called "The Art of the Maker: Skill and it's Meaning in Art, Craft and Design", by one Peter Dormer, Thames & Hudson, 1994.  The linked obituary makes him out to be a cantankerous supporter of middle values.  In the book he doesn't diss conceptual/modern/installation art, but laments the loss of skills, or what he calls "tacit knowledge" in art and craft, comparing these skills with engineering and science.

All rights are reserved, so I can't quote anything.  He sound far milder in defense of craft compared to Yanagi, who he may or may not have read.  I'm halfway through, but my take on this book, after reading 45/104 pages) is much gentler and more suggestive than condemnable. He uses plain language, making this an easy read for this genre, but I'm still proceeding at a old, sluggish snail's pace.  

Don't rush to Amazon and such places looking to buy a copy, though.  If you live near an educational insitution with an art department, their library may be your first port of call.  Though published in 1994, this tiny volume (110 pages) is out of print and now fetches somewhere between 100-180 pounds on, and I found one for NZ$300 on a NZ website I hadn't heard of. 

On a rare moment of bravery, I wrote a polite email to Thames & Hudson, explaining the situation and inquiring "... if you have considered reprinting this book, on affordable paperback, or even in an electronic version. I hope so, because it is like a breath, or a blast, of fresh air in today’s concept-heavy environment."

Reply from Thames & Hudson the next morning read:
Dear Meg,
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately The Art of the Maker is out of print.
Kind regards,
Alexandra Levy
Doh!  I wished I could say it's only their loss, but in this case, I insist it's bigger than that.  Did he have that a bad reputation in Britain, I wonder. 


  1. Thanks for the links Meg. I've become very interested in what craft and making means and its importance. The local library group has some books by Peter Dormer, but not that one. I may look further afield, but actually lately I haven't been reading as much as I used to. Brain's full.

  2. Yeah, I understand. I've had this 104 page good for 2 weeks now and I'm not quite halfway there.

  3. AUD 80. Get in quick.

  4. Still NZ$100, JB. Thanks, but I'm nearly finished with the library version.

  5. Well, scan it and get it online with Project Gutenberg!


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