Dr Helen Warner
In April 2013 the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced plans to remove ‘craft’ from the list of recognised creative industries initially claiming that craft occupations are ‘often concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process’. The proposal prompted outrage from the craft sector as it would become virtually impossible to account for the sector’s contribution to the economy and systematically render small-scale craft workers (the majority of whom are women) invisible.
recisely at the moment in which representation at the level of policy was thought to be at risk, the craft sector was experiencing global hypervisibility within mainstream and online media spaces. In addition to popular social networking sites, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, many small-scale crafters found unprecedented publicity and entrepreneurial opportunity on scrapbooking site Pinterest and online marketplaces, Etsy and Big Cartel, and broadcast television also provided these micro-entrepreneurs with a public platform with shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee (2013), Kirstie’s Handmade Treasures (January 2013) and Kirstie’s Vintage Gems (February 2013).
Dr Warner’s research is concerned with the way in which media culture shapes public understanding of craft and creativity and asks: how is the meaning of craft articulated in the symbolic environment and in what ways may this shape political discourse? In particular, she focuses on the role of gender in the in the mediated representation of craftwork. In her forthcoming article, for the Journal of Popular Television, she uses the example of Channel 4’s Kirstie’s Crafty Christmas to argue that media representations of craft workers rely on, and actively promote, conservative gender norms that serve to repackage the creative labour of women as domestic responsibility. An examination of the representational strategies at work within Kirstie’s Crafty Christmas reveals the ways in which figure of the micro-entrepreneur, in particular, is devalued and deskilled, and craft practices, in general, are privatized, trivialized and depoliticized.
The themes explored within this article are developed in Dr Warner’s current research which focuses on gender and creative work within media industries themselves.