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Archaeology for the Creative Industries

Continuing Professional Development

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is a commonly understood term in the creative industries to denote activities that contribute to the overall creative practice of an individual and enhance their professional and / or business practice. CPD may offer new networks, new skills, or new opportunities which exist outside of the day-to-day routine of creative work and creative business. CPD provides space for experimentation and catalysts for alternative ways of working.

During the HERA-funded project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA) (2010-2013), Prof. Sofaer worked with the Crafts Council to develop new models of CPD for mid-career and established makers. For this group, the challenge of participating in such CPD is particularly acute. Activities which take makers away from their business are costs as they will not be making work or promoting their work to generate income.

Resourcing the activity is therefore an issue, and even funded opportunities may not match the income they would have achieved under normal business conditions. Maintaining the status of makers in a crowded market also requires consistency, both in terms of available products and quality. Departing from the norm to experiment is therefore a potential risk as the outcomes are far harder to predict. There may also be difficulties associated with blocking out chunks of time to engage in an intensive residency, a frequently employed model for creative development in the sector.

CinBA set the flavour for what we should be doing from a practice point of view, from an academic point of view and from a funding point of view

Despite the barriers to engaging in CPD as a mid-career or established maker / artist, the benefits are significant, if the opportunity presented offers something compelling and stimulating. CinBA facilitated a series of opportunities for makers / artists to engage with the Bronze Age: visits to archaeological sites, European museums, object handling sessions, provision of reading lists, participation in conferences, and the opportunity to discuss on a one-to-one basis with academics.

Makers within the project, for example 'Wright and Teague', were given complete freedom in terms of the extent to which they took advantage of the opportunities offered by CinBA; what activities they attended, how much time and resources they committed to CinBA, and how they directed their own creative practice and responses. The outcomes of the engagement with archaeology were deliberately set up as open-ended. The archaeologists in the project did not act as a filter or arbiter (as is often traditionally the case) but rather as discussants for the makers’ practice based research. Thus any new contemporary craft objects produced as a result of the response to the Bronze Age were not interpretations or narratives about the past, but the individual maker’s reaction to them. The project did not fund commissions from the makers / artists involved; this would have presupposed a creative outcome and might have led to participants falling back on established practices or genres in order to fulfil obligations.

Odyssey (Overall) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris
Odyssey (Detail 1) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris
Odyssey (Detail 2) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris
Odyssey (Detail 3) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris
Odyssey (Detail 4) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris
Odyssey (Detail 5) by Wright and Teague
Odyssey by Gary Wright and Sheila Teague (2013). Staff: 24carat gold on sycamore. Vessels: Aluminium, wax, fragrance - Amber, Pine, Fig, Frankincense/Myrrh, Iris

Opportunities such as CinBA that allow you to step outside the normal day are brilliant. I found it really exhilarating, the whole thing. And demanding.

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