We obsess about productivity; yet we tend to overlook and discard people as ‘no-longer-productive’ or useless because the skills they have – sometimes honed over a lifetime of training, use and care – are not seen as worthwhile, cost-effective, or contemporary enough anymore. Often these skills of making and making-do were once vital to livelihoods, communities and even industry, but have either fallen from favour, been overtaken by new technologies and cultures of disposability, or just found themselves relegated to the realm of ‘hobbies’.
Over the course of six days, between 27 August and 1 September 2013, a particular but varied array of practitioners occupied the window space at 289 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9HA to perform and demonstrate their skills.
This event sought to uncover a making and making-do as practitioners demonstrated ways in which ‘labour’, ‘things’ and ‘skill’ come together in useful, creative, obsessive, practical, and just plain odd, curious and interesting ways. In doing so it attempted to highlight that very hard-to-define quality of ‘expertise’ - the attention to detail, the studied application, and the quiet proficiency of labour and thing conjoined – in an age when expertise has become professionalised, not democratised.