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1 July 2010

Art book of the month: June

Maybe its because I work in a bookshop, maybe its because I love books, but whatever my motives I could not resist the thought of having a book of the month spot on the blog. I think I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't use this opportunity to talk about a book or two. Naturally, I will keep the theme on art books of any nature; so poetry, textiles, fashion, graphics, illustration, photography, art theory and architecture are all included as possibilities to name a few.
So the book of the month for June is: The case for working with your hands by Matthew Crawford
This is an excellent read for anyone who feels disenchanted with the hum drum of office work and wants to reconnect with the pure satisfaction of working with ones hands. Crawford looks into the economic struggle of contemporary society in which more and more of us find ourselves forced into management and office based jobs. By describing his own experiences as a philosophy graduate and motorcycle mechanic Crawford argues that graduates are coming out with degrees in 'thinking' and with lots of knowledge leaving society with a lack of people with practically minded skills. The analogy of 'we only notice what a washing machine 'is' when it is broken' is used, for example, to describe how we take for granted the function of things with little idea of what they actually are until they cease to work. The bigger picture of all this being that practically minded workers, creative minded people are increasingly important in society, especially if not more so now in times of austerity.

'The great promise of the creative era is that, for the first time in our history, the further development of our economic competitiveness hinges on the further development of human creative capabilities. In other words, our economic success increasingly turns on harnessing the creative talents of each and every human being.'

This book proposes some interesting points of view and as a graduate myself I find at times it was quite difficult to hear quite a negative view of the degree system however it also made a lot of positive comments on the arts and creativity in particular so I feel like maybe there was a middle ground where a degree in the creative arts perhaps met the best of both worlds in practicality and in thinking?

Overall this book really appealed to my thirst for knowledge in this particular area, as my own practice deals with the subject of work and tools. It is also a great read for anyone who has ever read 'The Craftsman' by Richard Sennett as it follows a similar line of thought. I genuinely felt quite passionate and inspired to 'go and make something' after reading this book and would strongly recommend to anyone who feels the same desire to make for the sake of making.

If you have any thoughts on this or any future suggestions or reviews for future book of the month items then please let me know!

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