Thursday, 26 July 2012

Monk’s musings and definitive detail

Reading Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael is good for the soul.  In one of his sleuthing episodes, medieval herbalist monk Cadfael tells his charge that “..there’s no profit in ‘ifs’ – we go on from where we stand’. The Cadfael brand of wisdom came to me on a train journey today, returning from saying a final goodbye to a much-appreciated aunt. 

We’d got to know each other latterly in life and found we had much in common, from our very straight hair to our plain-speaking attitudes, from gardening to jam-making and also history, both ancient and family.  Like a train, which changes in meaning and significance as it metamorphoses from the 09.30 service from York to the 11.55 service from Stevenage, we remain the same in essence though the detail of what we mean to others and where we are in life defines us to our friends and family.

The defining nature of detail matters at every turn in life, and especially to people who express their being through the creativity of their designs.  Their detail becomes their creative ‘hallmark’, whether they be potter, painter, weaver or knitter.  Juliet Bernard’s Planethandmade blog recently highlighted the case of a knitwear designer whose woolly signature seemed to appear through a retailer.  The debate over ownership of creative intellectual property is at the heart of ACID – Anti-Copying In Design, and their petition entitled Commission it, Don’t Copy it!’.

ACID’s  ‘Government endorsed campaign intends to support the UK’s estimated 240,000 designers by encouraging retailers to sign up to a code protecting creative intellectual property, whilst simultaneously encouraging them to commission more original design and to create ‘signature ranges’. Presumably the campaign intends to imbue product design with the same protection and exclusivity deals which have long been the preserve of high fashion.

This does not guarantee, though, that we 'makers' will automatically achieve success.  As James Dyson related through the Guardian’s Small Business Network recently, failure is equally important.  Commenting on the success-driven culture of competition athletes (not far from any of our minds for the next two weeks!), he said he’ had over five thousand attempts at designing a prototype for his now-famous machines before achieving proverbial gold.   His point was that perseverance through adversity is just as valuable as success when you’re making something. 

Continued perseverance and finding ways around things was also the theme in an article I was reading on my train journey today, about Danish weaver Lotte Dalgaard (The Journal WSD, issue 236, 2010).  Change has been her constant companion through her creative textiles journey, bringing her to where she is today with her individual fabrics being made into equally individual garments through co-operation with a fashion designer. Brother Cadfael’s creator was most insightful in penning the lines I began with above.  May your coming week be one of rejoicing in the friendships and leaning life has granted you so far, and be full of determinedly future-focussed creativity.

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