New Age Artisan

28 October 2015

by Yom Nurul Akma

Let’s take on a different route this time around. I was double-tapping on various accounts on Instagram when something caught my eye. The words are blurry to me now. But it is clear that Meet the Makers – a coming together of the movers and shakers of the art and craft industry - speaks to the inner kid in me.

Arts and craft is part of a civilization: the representation of a society, a representation of a civilization. So, why do human create? Why do human produce art pieces?

The arts and craft movement is many ways an aesthetic one. It reinforces good taste and self-fulfillment through the creation and the appreciation of beautiful objects globally

Meet the Makers, held at Sundays in Bangsar Village II, is truly a testament to art, crafts and its makers: a celebration of the craft of local artisans. At the meet, lovers of the handmade who have an eye for the quirky; the connoisseur of the excellent and the unusual; possessors of fierce talent and skills; the generators of fantastic ideas; and makers of the extraordinary things gather together and share their ideas and love on art. From sleek leatherwork, to stationeries, to skin products and on to 1450’s ancient, indigenous printing press, the art and craft exhibited showed definite evidence of evolution.

The man behind PesaKRAF, Faisal Mohamed, believes in the spirit of the handcrafted and the painstakingly procured. This spirit is expressed in every leather product - each with its telltale imperfections and patina - characteristics that tell of their individual personality.  PesaKRAF, established in 2012 by Faisal, wants the owner of his products to know where the leather came from, the artisan who created these products and the technique used to produce such fine work. He wants owners to know the story behind each individual work.

I like to think that the artisanal movement is here today not because of quality or commercial aesthetics. Put in another way, it is not because of reaction against modernism. Rather, these products exist as signifiers of quality as opposed to the manifestation quality itself. 

New age artisan

new-age-artisan

You could walk-in at Alphabet Press for bespoke services, ranging from wedding stationeries to business cards.

Fidella Ch’ng of Alphabet Press – a local letter presser reviving the ancient printing practice of the 19th century says, “Although the revival of letterpress is perhaps a painstaking effort, Alphabet Press will continue its effort to bring the best of old arts, coupled with old machinery – in the name of all the tangible things we love.” Perhaps, this recent revival of interest in original and quality products has spurred a new wave of artisans – our local talent producing great, amazing art work from our own backyard.

I posted a question to Jun, the designer behind Mossery’s funky and vibrant notebooks, “If I’m a Moleskine lover, why should I use your products? Jun puzzled for few seconds before replying, “You are a woman in your 20’s and I am sure you believe in fairy tales and happy endings. This is what we are about.” I laughed and nodded in agreement to Jun’s response.

Mossery-notebook

Mossery-notebook

Bright, colorful and vibrant – Mossery’s statement to young women

Louise from ClaireOrganics perceives her skin and beauty products as a craft – handcrafted to be precise - using only natural and organic products. She has mastered a trade or a craft – like carpentry, pottery and sculpting sculptors - which can be traced directly to the ancient Egypt.

ClaireOrganics-skin-care

ClaireOrganics-skin-care

Body and skin care from ClaireOrganics

While many appreciate the arts and crafts movement, not everyone has the ability to leave a full time job and produce a homemade products or to buy such products as opposed to those available in the mass market. Some may even see the promise offered by being artisan as largely an empty one.

Watching the meteoric rise of the local artisan movement has given us the hope that these cotton-filled, fragile instances will somehow function as a mirror to the times when economies were built around crafts. This may give rise way to a tempest of conflicting reactions - everything from quiet reverence to eye-rolling amusement. Will such movement and awareness cause a rejection of modernity, with its assembly lines and impersonal relations between maker and users? Or will it validate art as an inherent feature of civilisation?

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