36. Techniques of the Artist

The playwright Tom Stoppard has observed that 'technique without ideas gives us wicker baskets; ideas without technique gives us modern art.' In fact, while the distinction between arts and crafts and the rôle of technique within them is an area of controversy among contemporary craftspeople and artists, most fine art involves technical skills, and most crafts can be carried to the level of an art. Certainly the training of a traditional African carver or a sculptor working on a Romanesque church would have been almost entirely a training in practical techniques, yet the inspiration and expression in their works is undeniable.

In the nineteenth century the Arts and Crafts movement sought to reintroduce handicraft techniques into manufacturing to raise design products to the level of art. Clearly, as long as artists and designers continue to produce physical objects of any kind, issues of technique will remain important.

This section features films which look at technique, whether giving insights into the procedures of artists and craft workers of the past and present, or giving in-depth introductions to specific art and craft techniques.