Reinterpreting the craft object.
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How does an art gallery make its collection more accessible and meaningful to students of design and craft today? How can today’s students be persuaded that galleries are not simply places ‘full of old stuff’, but instead a potentially valuable and stimulating source of primary research material? How can an art gallery and art school build a relationship of mutually beneficial dialogue and cultural exchange, as well as validate the future role of the museum or gallery in the lives of a new generation of designer-makers and crafts practitioners? This paper, which has been written from the perspective of both Craft Curator and Design and Craft Course Leader, will focus on an ongoing collaborative project between Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums and Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. ‘Object analysis’ methodology is a key aspect of the project, culminating in a co-curated exhibition of gallery objects and students’ studio and written work. The project is of particular interest to this conference, not simply as an exemplar of possible good practice, but for the questions it raises concerning the perceptions and approaches to ‘craft’ objects, both by design and craft students and staff, as well as the consumption of the craft object in a gallery setting by the student of design and craft.