Arkansas Living Treasures

Following a link from Fine Woodworking I came across an inspiring collection of videos featuring a group of traditional craftspeople who live in the US state of Arkansas. The state has sponsored the production of a movie series featuring each craftsman talking about their work and practising in their studios.

Something that stands out is the advanced age of some of the artists who are still practising. Chair maker Dallas Bump is 94 and fiddle maker Violet Hensley was still making well into her 90’s.

Other artists that particularly interested me were

The award of “Living Treasure” echos the Japanese tradition of designating important figures in the crafts and arts as Living National Treasures). Several other countries have also adopted the nomination including Australia, although the Aus list is short on crafts people, favouring sports people, politicians, actors, writers and business magnates. Craft Australia has created its own Living Treasures list, adding one person each year since 2005.

A recent reminder of the strong Australian links with Japanese ceramics occurred with the visit of Euan Craig to give a very successful workshop at the National Arts Centre in Sydney. In the 90’s Euan was an apprentice of the Japanese National Living Treasure Tatsuzo Shimaoka.