A paper delivered to the Royal Society of Arts in
1948 and revised in 1958 by the author.
The post-war years have been a very serious time for craftsmen as well as others, we were very nearly snuffed out but those of us who could get together got closer and thought more deeply about the relationship of craftsmanship to life than, I believe, at any time since John Ruskin and William Morris started a movement which was in fact the Counter Industrial Revolution.
The significance of the moment lies in the greater possibility of implementing our ideas (if they are true answers to need), than at any earlier stage. Changes are taking place in the basic order of our society and, therefore, in the period of reconstruction we have possibilities which never really presented themselves to Morris and his friends.
I have one rare privilege and that is of having seen our problems of the West from the angle of the East and of becoming some sort of link between the two.
Before beginning, I would like to recall a few of Mr. Farleigh's points, in his Introductory Paper to The Royal Society's series on Craftsmanship, some of the deepest and truest I have read in recent years: He dwelt on craftsmanship as an experience as a way of life. He spoke of the equation of creative concept and its projection into and through material.
He made the case for the modern craftsman whom he called the fine craftsman. He stressed the timelessness and universality of the language of art, including the crafts: "In the timeless moments of creative execution the potter is guided by his material, clay, as much as he guides it", to which one responds feelingly and with unquenched hope, "life flowing for a few moments perfectly through the hands of the potter". Mr. Farleigh concluded with the statement that, "no civilisation has been great without the culture which springs from free expression in the arts".
Creative work is an intensification and worship of life, and conversely, no art finds expression without conviction and faith in its meaning and value, even if some contemporary expression appears to have a destructive character. For every kind of artist today this is the underlying problem, the meaning and shape of the life ahead. The immediate outlook is dark enough, but the potential exceeds by far any historical precedent. Least of all can artists and other men of imaginative vision afford to be reduced to impotence through fear, for it is through their perceptions that the inchoate future falls into rhythm and pattern.
The educated craftsman ever since the time of Morris and Ruskin, let us say from about the middle of last century, has by force of circumstance been more or less of an artist, that is to say, he has often received previous training as an artist or as an architect. He follows a craft as a vocation for the enthusiasm of the thing made by hand to the best of man's ability. Whether it be pot or poem, painting, music or sculpture, the type of man and his processes of thought are much the same. The social circumstances which have thrown him up as a reactionary against the over mechanisation of labour at a certain stage following the Industrial Revolution have been similar in all modern countries. This kind of man or woman, whether a weaver such as Ethel Mairet, or a potter like Michael Cardew, is possessed of an insight into the epochs of man's culture and in his or her own workshop passes such influences through the mesh of personality.
Our problem is to preserve those qualities of concept, of material and of method, belonging to pre-industrial civilisation which are still valid today, adding to them an individual responsibility and a width of outlook which is our peculiar Western inheritance. This constant straining after perfection in the thing made may either continue alongside industry as a stimulus and example, or it may serve within the factory to redeem it from sheer commercialism.
We in England are the parents of industrialism. As such we have had more time to observe the effects of mechanisation and to begin to take its measure. It is but just that the evils inherent in the misuse of science should be understood and countered first by us. All over the East, all over the world in fact, the same thing is, or has been, taking place. Broadly the same sequence of events follows close upon the establishment of factories or the large scale importation of mass produced goods: local handcrafts are displaced; the close contacts between maker and consumer, between heart and hand, man and material, art and life, all these are forgotten or lost in a very few years; the fabric of life is torn, faith weakens, culture itself, the soul of a people, disintegrates.
The artist craftsman should be the natural source of contemporary applied design whether he works in conjunction with industry. or prefers, as most of us do, to carry out our ideas in clay, cotton, wood, glass, metal or leather, etc., mainly with our own hands and at our own tempo. The hand is the prime tool and it expresses human feelings intimately; the machine is for quantity, cheapness and at best a marvellous efficiency, but it turns man into a modern slave unless it is counter balanced by work which springs from the heart and gives form to the human imagination.
The studio pottery movement started about the year of my birth, 1887, with Carriès and Cazin in France, and, a little later, with the Martin brothers in England. There was an early contact between them but little or no similarity of product. The Martins produced a great variety of salt glazed stoneware in London some of which escapes from a tiresome Victorian grotesqueness by way of sound craft technique to sufficient simplicity of form. The French sculptor potter, Carriès, and his associates, the most notable of whom was Decoeur, were influenced by Japanese Tea Ceremony wares which, however debased in the nineteenth century, were, nevertheless, the ceramic expression of Buddhist and Taoist ideals assymetric, withdrawn and dignified quite different in spirit from the gay, hard, intricate porcelain and china which developed in Europe from late Oriental stimuli and were mainly Mohammedan in original inspiration.
Our next potter of this category was the novelist William de Morgan who worked under the inspiration of Persian lustre painting, but without the advantage of a handcraft tradition, with the inevitable result that such qualities of design as he and a few others possessed were spoiled by the deadly monotony of plaster cast shapes and standardised types of industrial clay, pigment and glaze. At this preliminary stage the laborious efforts of genuine enthusiasts to achieve an adequate means of expression for hand as differentiated from machine work should be regarded with sympathy, for the conditions proper to natural materials had been too long broken.
The sensibility of the artist turned potter has found stimulus in the work of every age and country, from Neolithic bone smoothed pots of pre-history, black and red with the smoke and flame of primitive open fires, to the height of perfection of form, pattern and glaze in T'ang and Sung China, or to the delicate "sky after rain" celadons of the hermit kingdom of Korea. When I left England in 1909, the museums of the Western world held but few specimens of such pots. For centuries we have been conditioned to the comparatively artificial perfections of a late Chinese court taste. Elaborately enamelled porcelain, imported by the English and Dutch East India companies, stimulated our own sophisticated court circles and caused widespread emulation of Chinese porcelain to take place all over the West. For centuries fantastic efforts were made to copy this hard translucent white substance, the secret of which was only revealed through the letters of a French Jesuit, Pére déEntrecolle, from Ching tê Chên in the early eighteenth century. When I returned to England in 1920 Sung wares had been given the place of honour in the museums of Europe and America, where, prior to my journey eastwards, the wares of Ming and Ching had held sway. This change of values in ceramics was as great as or greater than corresponding re-assessments which occurred about this time in our painting and music. It was greater, maybe, because we had no European pots comparable in refinement of conception. Beyond the discovery of yet another field of delight for the spirit of man we apprehended a supreme epoch expressed in clay. Herein the West has begun to perceive the complementary value of the East perhaps more keenly than in any other direction. Those Sung pots in the Chinese Exhibition at Burlington House about 1935 gave us English the seismic tremor of great art. The proof of the depth of an impact lies, however, in its outcome what we actually do as the result of being deeply moved.
The contemporary movement mong studio potters has one common denominator other than a general participation in what I have called counter industrial revolution, and that is the practical interest shown in Europe, America and Japan in the recently uncovered work of Sung potters. The release of this ceramic beauty, due to the construction of Chinese and Korean railways and the resultant disturbance of early graves in which these pots had been buried with the dead, has caused a ripple of responsive enthusiasm to run round the world and a new standard of achievement has been set for the modern potter to assimilate. In the Paris Exhibition of 1937 this new influence was predominant in the work of young potters from all over the world.
In my opinion two countries have been better equipped to absorb and assimilate the varied stimuli offered by evolving circumstance and it is for that reason that I think they have produced the best modern pots we who live in smallish islands off the coast of Europe and the Japanese who live in corresponding isles off the coast of eastern Asia. The sea strip has, in both cases, been safeguard, so that each nation has become the repository of the culture of a continent. It is odious to praise oneself at the expense of others but this is not a judgment on personalities, nor will any informed person accuse me of race prejudice. I love the French and I have respect for the way of life evolved in Scandinavia, but the pots which come from these two sources strike me, and most of my fellow English and Japanese potters, as lacking life for all their smooth and conscious control. I only know of one French potter, a woman, Francine del Pièrre, who escapes this criticism and achieves a genuine personal expression.
In France pots have not been produced with the same flow of national (and international) genius as have pictures, partly perhaps because of the artificial barrier created by the over distinction between "beaux arts" and "arts décoratifs". (Since the above was written ten years ago, another influence has become increasingly obvious the painter potter. Picasso is the best known. But the effect of such artists has so far been too much from above to below, from the easel to the clay. Picasso is a great and most inventive artist, but he is not a potter and his effect on potters has been disastrous. His followers in Paris are known as "les Picassiettes".)
It would appear that the closer alliance between Scandinavian and Finnish potters and industry has in some ways been at the expense of the former. The artist potter in those countries is known as an engineer potter and his main activity seems to be in clothing rather dead or artificial forms with fine and well contrived glazes.
In America, post war, an enormous number of individual potters have emerged showing in their work three predominant influences, Far Eastern, contemporary abstract art and Pre-Colombian Indian pattern. But it appears to be too early for a mature cultural expression.
In Russia pottery does not seem to have been a national mode of expression and it is difficult to see how handcrafts fit into its present economic pattern. ality.
In Austria natural sensitiveness suffers from Viennese artificiality.
In Italy there has been an outburst of gay and contemporary vitality of an inventive kind but I have not been greatly moved by it and far less by its reflection on these sober shores.
China has suffered too much decay, disorganisation and invasion to contribute her incomparable genius to the modern problem.
In India too pottery has never risen to a high level, owing partly, I understand, to religious taboo.
It is not inappropriate that in Europe, England, which was the birthplace of industrial revolution, should also be the source of counter revolution.
This brings us to the necessity of speaking of my own experience as the link between Japanese and British potters, because the influence of each upon the other has been remarkable and has contributed vitally to the modern movement.
I was born in Hong Kong and my first years were spent in Japan in the care of my grandparents. To this fact and the subsequent reading of Lafcadio Hearn was due the impulse which took me back to the East at the age of twenty one, after a short training in art. I went to find out for myself what this strange Eastern art, and the life behind it, meant. I taught etching and, with my wife, English, but fortunately it was not long before I abandoned the idea of teaching in favour of learning, and it was due to this fact that the younger writers and artists treated me as one of themselves. Little did I imagine at the party of artists to which I was invited in 1911 that the excitement which I felt at the first sight of pots being fired, which had just been painted by the guests, including myself, would eventually lead a Tomimoto or a Hamada to become potters, or to my own setting up as a potter in England and the subsequent teaching of Cardew and others, but so it happened.
After that experience I set about finding a master and was eventually introduced to Ogata Kenzan the sixth in succession of one of the most famous lines, or schools, of potters and became his sole pupil. Later, Tomimoto also worked with him and to us both he gave the traditional knowledge and recipes with which passes mastership.
Kenkichi Tomimoto trained as an architect and then studied in England and in India. He is a pungent and delicate artist and a fine caligraphist. His faculty of making original brushwork patterns is unique in Japan.
This studentship of ours did not resemble traditional Japanese apprenticeship because both of us were mentally and culturally far removed from our master. Tomimoto and I were certainly closer in friendship and depth of common interest than ordinary brothers and we each had an affectionate regard for old Kenzan, but, although there were highly trained craftsmen in Japan, such as Makuzu Kozan, with whom I also worked for some months in Yokohama, yet not one was aesthetically conscious in the international and contemporary sense. Thus when they, and still more the peasant weavers, lacquerers, potters, etc., attempted to graft foreign ideas on to an already weakened national stem, the results were disastrous. This phenomenon, unfortunately, is constant throughout the East.
For most of nine years Tomimoto and I were friends and rivals. Being the first in this quest, and at that time having little knowledge of living craft movements in other countries, we had no set guide to thought and process, so we bought our experience expensively, but what we learned thereby we really knew. The search after form and pattern occupied our nights and days, for we never supposed that the mere imitation of old styles would lead anywhere. We were in fact gropingly, with occasional flashes of light (quickly and gladly shared), synthesising on racial, cultural and personal lines, each according to his own very different inheritance. He was my only companion on this adventure and search until the end of my time in the East, when Hamada arrived from the Kyoto Pottery School, wishing to escape from its atmosphere of pedantic scientific exactitude towards a more intuitive and basic means of expression. He came to England with me in 1920 and for three years helped to start the St. Ives pottery.
Realising from the outset that all over the world the crafts of pre-industrial man were being destroyed, almost overnight, for lack of vision, we came to the conclusion that correspondingly heartfelt work must today be under the control of the artist. He was twenty eight, I think; I was thirty three. He had not exhibited, whilst I had been launched in his country for ten years. He had had a scientific training; I had not, but I had made my mistakes and had thereby gained some experience. Like his own pots he was well ballasted. It was a happy and profitable combination. (A year ago he sent his third son, Atsuya, to work with me at St. Ives, as he himself did thirty eight years ago.) We worked hard but with the irregularity of mood. We destroyed pots, as artists do drawings and paintings, when they exhibited insufferable shortcomings to our own eyes, what Hamada called "tail". We only turned out 2,000 to 3,000 pots a year between four or five of us and of these not more than 10 per cent. passed muster for shows. Kiln losses in those days were high,quite 20 percent. and so the best pots had to be precious and expensive. The background of thought which we brought to the undertaking was that of the artist turned craftsman; so it was with Morris, Gimson and Edward Johnston.
One of my objects in returning to England in 1920 was to make contact with the soil of our own traditions. I had become increasingly aware of the danger of becoming rootless, so when the harrow turned over shards of old English combed slipware oven dishes in the field opposite the pottery Hamada and I carried them in to our fireside and turned them over and over, discussing their character and probable technique during many an evening meal. By guesswork based on bits of evidence gathered from here and there, and experience gained in Japan, we gradually re-discovered most of the methods employed and so regained a tradition which had nearly vanished from this countryside. Proceeding very circumspectly we, and later Michael Cardew, added new forms and patterns, some of them borrowed from the East. Other potters are now working on the same theme not only here but also in Japan, where I found in 1934-5 the idiom of the English slip trailer in use in three other potteries besides Hamada's.
Behind the breadth and warmth of eighteenth century peasant pots lies the grand medieval and monastic earthenware of this old land of ours, and their influence too has begun to be felt as a native balance to Far Eastern dreams.
Thus we commenced. Then Hamada returned to Japan in 1923 and set an example in restraint and modesty to all studio potters by making his pots for the Tokyo market alongside healthy village potters. Having gained their respect as a good workman he then began to develop local materials and, with their support, to meet a wider and more modern demand. Evidence of this was the roadway, which I found constructed in 1933, leading to his farm. house. It was a gift from the small potters' town of Mashiko.
Meanwhile at St. Ives we had a long struggle to make ends meet, and had it not been for the money which continued to come from the sale of my pots in Japan, it would have been impossible to carry on. After the exhibition of one of our consignments a penetrating, disconcerting, half hidden criticism found its way into a letter from my old friend Soyetsu Yanagi, the leader of the Japanese craft movement, "We admire your stoneware but we love your English slipware .. born, not made". That sank home, and this, together with the growing conviction that pots must be made in answer to outward as well as inward need, determined us to counterbalance the exhibition of expensive personal pots by a basic production of domestic wares. We have come after twenty eight years to aim at a high common denominator of belief and in the sharing of responsibility and profits under the willingly accepted leadership of an artist. This is our faith as the result of experience in Japan and England. It is the only answer we have found to the crying need of our age for creative beauty. By this. means we appear to have solved our main economic problem as handworkers in a machine age and to have ascertained that it is still possible for a varied group of people to find and give real satisfaction because they believe in their work and in each other. To me the most surprising part of the experience is the realisation that, given a reasonable degree of unselfishness, divergence of aesthetic judgment has not wrecked this effort. When it comes to the appraisal of various attempts to put a handle on a jug, for example, right in line and volume and apt for purpose, unity of common assent is far less difficult to obtain than might have been expected. Thus, many of the standard pots which we catalogue and send out to the extent of about 15,000 a year, although most of them started as my ideas, are being constantly modified and improved by the contribution of one or another of the group. It has also resulted in lessening the dominance of eastern shape and decor by the health giving effort to answer need the practical teapot, porringer, egg baker and pitcher requirements of the English people who buy the pots. It is in the consciousness and unity of such groups, or teams, that in this and other workshops a belief in the development of craftsmanship is gaining ground. The obsession with the individual "artist" point of view appears to be lessening. That a stress had to be laid not only, as Eric Gill put it, on "every creative worker an artist", but especially upon the most creative. The outstanding English potters who correspond to Tomimoto and Hamada in Japan are beyond question Staite Murray and Michael Cardew. Mr. Murray was making a very high fired stoneware, mainly inspired by Sung pottery, when I arrived back from the East in 1920. More than anyone else he is responsible for raising the standard of artistry in pots, both directly by the creative character of his best work and, indirectly, by teaching younger potters, such as Sam Haile and a number of other talented young men and women, at the Royal College of Art. The effect has been to re-unite the aesthetics of this craft to the general stream of contemporary art. Although Sung stoneware has been the predominating inspiration it would be a mistake to conclude that the artist potter of to day is only adding a chapter to the story of Chinese influence on European ceramics. Many other stimuli are affecting us simultaneously. We craftsmen have, for the first time, the whole world. and all history to draw upon. It is difficult for the artist to keep steady under this barrage, to live truly and work sanely without the sustaining power of traditions which guided all the yesterdays of applied art. Spoiled and denuded countrysides the world over witness sadly how much more difficult it is for simple and narrow artisans whose forebears have left us the great heritage of unconscious beauty in things. I have seen in two hemispheres how defenceless this kingdom of beauty is under the onslaught of modernity. After the slow maturing of centuries the flower like loveliness dies so briefly everywhere. Men like Benvenuto Cellini in the West and the First Kenzan in the East were court artists, cultured and aware of comparatively wide relative values. Since then horizons have opened out vastly and now we are all heirs to general knowledge, but in the process much has been lost of direct sensory understanding. Our knowledge is of the brain and nine tenths of the things which we use with our hands lack the human touch and it is this which gives significance to the craftsman's plea.
Michael Cardew was the first student apprentice who worked at St. Ives after Hamada's return. The slipware which he subsequently made at Winchcombe, though more traditional than Murray's stoneware is recreative and essentially English and it holds its own with the past admirably. This I had an opportunity of verifying only a few days ago in Hanley Museum by extracting old and new pots from the showcases and placing them together for comparison.
Following Cardew came Katharine Pleydell Bouverie and Norah Braden ,in successive years. Later on they set up together at the Cole pottery near Swindon which, whilst the partnership lasted, turned out some of the most sensitive modern pots. They developed, amongst other things, the Oriental use of various wood ashes in stoneware glazes, and so obtained from rose and box and other local vegetable sources inimitable and most beautiful effects. They were helped in this direction by the sculptor potter Charles Vyse and his chemist wife, who turned from the production of glazed figures and reproduced with astonishing skill many of the Sung glazes.
Behind these well known names stand two or three times as many younger men and women, and far more are clamouring for an adequate training. We alone have had to turn away well over 100 applicants during the last three years, and it is the same story in other potteries and craftsmen's workshops. I am told that there is a still larger proportion of young French and Germans who gropingly seek a means of positive and expressive life work in the making of pots. These people come out of the bitter destructive experience of the war. Their pain is our hope. How many times whilst travelling to and from London for national craft committees, during long night hours in overcrowded trains, did I hear men in the Forces say, "When this bloody show is over I will never go back to the old job; I want to do a job I can enjoy". More and more young people want that to make or enjoy things which are an expression of themselves, of life, and not mere means to ends. There is promise for the future if this need can be met, but how?
Crafts such as ours are not learned in art schools where there is no basic production for use, where there are not nearly enough teachers who can find and prepare clays, who can throw proficiently on the potter's wheel, who can design and build a kiln and make their own pigments and glazes. The number of picked post-graduate students who have come to me from the best art schools who could do any of these things is negligible. Things are improving, but they have been unbelievably bad. The more sensitive of these students do become responsive to art, and can sometimes draw and paint, but one is left with a sense of dubious wonder as to what becomes of all those others who pass through art schools. Are they going to teach arts and crafts too, the blind leading the blind ad infinitum? How can half a dozen crafts be acquired in a couple of years? Can two hours a week (on wheels generally without seats) enable anyone to learn to throw to the very modest standard of twenty pots an hour to fixed weight and size? I remember a morning, over forty years ago, when Henry Tonks came into the men's "life" class at the Slade, slowly walked round behind the easles with a deepening sardonic frown on his surgeon's face, stopped, and in the silence said, "Well I want to know when any of you are going to show signs of becoming artists". With that he walked out.
Crafts such as pottery depend, as it were, upon a slow passage of time: the gradual transfer of the bodily knowledge of the right use of material and the intimate co-operation of small groups of workers. Break those threads and disperse the men and their tools, and an heritage is lost for ever. This is one of the contingent tragedies of total war and it is the more poignant because craftsmanship in its essence is the antidote to mass production and the craftsman is the residual type of fully responsible workman. This responsibility comes to its maturity with conscious and executive knowledge. At that stage the artist craftsman can gather his group together and start a contemporary tradition and so pass on to another generation a part of what he has extracted from life. Such teaching can only be given to a very small number of students unless a new kind of craft school, as a workshop extension, should come into being. But at that stage the craftsman would need the support of the Board of Education. (This, as far as hand made pottery is concerned, has been eliminated from the Royal College of Art curriculum (and it sets a pattern for the country). Something is needed to take its place.)
In 1934 I re-visited Japan at the invitation of my old companions of art, particularly those associated with what had become a national craft movement. During the space of one year I worked in seven potteries and crafts centres, including Hamada's and Tomimoto's, and travelled 4,000 miles in central and southern Japan with Mr. Yanagi and Mr. Hamada collecting examples of remaining folk arts, lecturing, discussing, planning. This effort resulted in the building and maintenance of a beautiful National Museum of "people's art" which fortunately escaped destruction by Allied bombers although the surrounding houses were burnt down.
I found the movement in Japan more alive and better organised than its counterpart here. It had a very remarkable leader, my old friend, Soyetsu Yanagi, PH.D., a profound student of eastern and western religion and art, besides the active support of Hamada and other craftsmen and potters in particular. It published the most beautiful monthly, Kogei, I have ever seen, which served as a focus of thought between all kinds of craftsmen and craft lovers. This is not the place in which to attempt to describe the happenings of that year. It was the fullest and most rewarding in my life, humanly in sharpest contrast to the terrible apparition of Japan which war has brought to the mind of the West.
In 1940 The Potter's Book was published. It has sold remarkably well and the letters which I have received from all over the world, mainly from potters, show that, however inadequate, something of the kind was widely needed. In writing openly about the methods and recipes employed by potters of the past, as well as those which we have evolved for ourselves, my intention was to do something to break down an unfortunate and pointless habit of secrecy which studio potters had inherited from a background of competitive trade. In art there are no secret shortcuts to the realm of beauty. But there are principles as well as practice, and about both craftsmen can afford to be frank. I have tried to remove some of the obscuring veils, and that, no doubt, explains the response. I devoted some pages in the first chapter to the bedrock question of what constitutes good form in pots, but here I shall labour but one point of divergence from the great but entrenched achievements of the English pottery trade. We aim at living shapes and believe that the life which can be put into a pot is the expression of living force in designer and executant. Mechanical reproduction rules out half this life and severely limits the designer to boot. This fact is inescapable. The more these functions are unified, the more chance there is of vital springing form and of a living orchestration of pattern. (A quotation from A Potter's Book followed.-Ed.)
I hope I have managed to show that the phenomenon of the artist potter is sufficiently widespread to suggest that these people have sprung up spontaneously at a certain stage of industrial evolution in answer to need. But the first shock of surprise has had ample time to pass off and suspicion and acrimony might now give place to an interchange between the theory and precise practice of applied science and the imaginative and equally real aesthetic approach of the fine craftsman. As a handworker himself he has naturally a closer and warmer appreciation of all pottery traditions preceding mechanisation and is therefore in a better position to assimilate fresh influences as they become available.
The inducements to make a link with industry have been lacking so far: lacking in probability of sound results, in conditions and in reward. Few of us work in close contact with machine production and most of those who do so get the worst of the bargain. I have no brief for a puritanical aloofness, but it may be a good thing to give some of the reasons for what may otherwise be too readily interpreted as a kind of art snobbery. Industry must want us before we can make any reasonable approach. So far it does not know what we have to give. It is a position with both sides. to blame, or rather, if the matter is viewed sympathetically, with neither, for the vicious circle which is just beginning to break down is the almost inevitable outcome of given conditions. Craftsmen as the residual type of fully responsible workers do look upon industry in its present form as largely anti-social. By our way of life we imply another set of values, one in which neither money nor coercive power are ultimate standards. We believe in the most responsible and therefore the best work, and regard the avoidable absence of this incentive as one of the principal evils of our age. We craftsmen of England are fighting against the anaesthetic of heartless repetition, against the Bedeaux system, against commercial music, cinema and wireless, and all the dope which clogs the release of healthy talent. We protest at the creeping paralysis of state centralisation replacing personal responsibility, and at the concept of man as a mere cog in a machine. Craftsmanship involves an inherent and absolute value in the thing made, and implies conditions of labour in which such perfection can be achieved, in other words, conditions in which men and women can really live in and through their work. All craftsmen are concerned with the effort to make things as excellently as possible within the necessarily strict limits of usefulness, but the fact is that as soon as creative intention ceases to control the processes of manufacture directly (as when re-duplicated work is delegated to the machine) a cleavage takes place. The words "hand", "tool" and "machine" indicate degrees of intimacy between conception and execution, but as soon as the function of the prime tool, the human hand, is recognised the antagonism between hand and machine tends to lessen. At one end of the scale is creative thought expressing itself as directly as is humanly possible: at the other, the automatic repetitions of mass production. There is a cool modern perfection in the best mechanical products involving pride in machine craftsmanship, but the distant control inherent in mass production, combined with the ca'canny of safe dividends to shareholders, results in things for daily use which give neither maker nor user full satisfaction. The rather limited idea of functionalism prevalent, leading as it does to contentment with better design for the machine, makes it all the more necessary to state the case for the human being as a worker, as a craftsman and as a creative artist.
Within the framework of post-war England there is a place for the craftsman's contribution to national life, but it has to be secured by convictions held in common and made known to a wider public. Good handcraftsmanship is directly subject to the prime source of human activity, whereas machine crafts, even at their best, are activated at one remove. For this reason above all others, artist craftsmanship justifies its existence near the heart of any culture worthy of the name, even when it stands alone as an exemplar and reminder.
In this time of flux and re-organisation we, as responsible craftsmen, have an essential contribution to make in clarifying and fighting for the basic principles of work, that work which is at one and the same time recreation and labour, and in which use and beauty are inseparable.