Women And Craft

2451 words - 10 pages

Intro Sample...


Writing and thinking about ceramics have for too long been tucked away as a sub-category in larger disciplines or fields of study. These include archaeology, art history, anthropology and technology. Pottery can be a mundane household utensil or a highly valued work of art, to an archaeologist a tiny shard of ancient pot may be a vital piece of evidence; to an antique dealer a tiny chip may halve the value of the piece; to a householder a chipped jug may be consigned to the dustbin or displayed on the dresser because it carries sentimental value. Arts and crafts practice have long been divided along sexual lines and particularly associated with women’s culture. Men typically engaged in printing, metal work, and carpentry; women worked at... View More »

Body Sample...


The power of hierarchies of a binary nature – as in masculine/feminine, black/white, art/craft, high technology/low technology, intellectual work/hand work – serve to control the way individuals think about the world and construct an identity. This can be used to explain women’s oppression and how relative values are assigned to different activities. In the hierarchy of the arts, oil painting is in the highest category and sees ceramics as minor art, applied art or domestic decoration. Decoration was seen to be a female domain. The association of women with decoration was a product of late 18th century ideologies which increasingly identified women with the domestic space of the home. A great deal of ceramic design and decoration has its roots in the 18th century, a period when taste has often been dubbed ‘feminine’ or even ‘effeminate’. As women are prime consumers of ceramics as tableware and house decoration it can be argued that they exhibit a ‘female taste’. Thus both the product and the systems of production have come to signify ‘femininity’ and take on a gendered identity. Their social message is far more significant than the signifier, hence there is a strong incentive to maintain traditional styles and designs.

There is nothing universal about the relationship between women and decoration, but an interest in decoration is frequently perceived as an innate feminine quality. Furthermore this association has negative connotations. Surface decoration is frequently seen as ‘mere’ decoration and characterized as superficial, meaningless and lacking in intellectual ...

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