Crafting the local: the lived experience of craft production in the Northern Isles of Scotland



McHattie L, Champion K & Johnson M (2019) Crafting the local: the lived experience of craft production in the Northern Isles of Scotland. Cultural Trends, 28 (4), pp. 305-316.

National creative and cultural industries policy agendas tend to focus on the economic impact of the sector often favouring scalable digital activities based in global clusters, which underpin notions of growth. There has, however, been a re-emergence of craft, which may not be scalable in the same way, into public debate, with benefits linked to educational, cultural and economic policy agendas. Accordingly, policymakers have begun to view craft as a stimulus to develop local and regional economies, skills and materials in relation to wider networks. Within this push towards craft-driven creative place making and economic growth, it has been argued that more sophisticated understandings of the “local” are needed that go beyond those which are inward and parochial. Based on AHRC-funded empirical research undertaken in the Northern Isles of Scotland with craft practitioners, this article attempts to provide evidence of the place-based nature of craft work highlighting both opportunities as well as constraints linked to contexts that are often referred to as remote and peripheral when contrasted with urban locations. We argue for future investigation into, what we term, fractal growth – growth and development that considers multiple dimensions – as being a valid and valuable outcome of creative practice, and which cannot be easily scaled.

Craft; local; lived experience; cultural assets; innovation; fractal growth

Cultural Trends: Volume 28, Issue 4

FundersAHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online30/07/2019
Date accepted by journal16/07/2019

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Dr Katherine Champion

Dr Katherine Champion

Senior Lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture