It is difficult to create a good definition for craft.
Andrew Jewell, curator at The MERL in the 1960s, said of his exhibition Countryside Crafts that ‘all the objects on display were made to be used’. Historian and author Glenn Adamson said that ‘craft is making something skilfully; it’s just that simple. But from that basic definition, infinite complexities arise’. Other definitions emphasise working with your hands, particular skills, or traditions. And yet craft often involves something heartfelt and personal too, as a way of expressing ourselves.
From its early days, The MERL has collected items associated with rural crafts. In this online exhibition, we look at just some of the crafts to be found in The MERL collection. We also explore what several craftspeople have been making over the lockdown period, and, in their own words, share what their work means to them.