the division of labour

glaze detailThis week I’ve been an electrician, a stone-cutter, a photographer, an illustrator, a gardener, a marketer, a critic, and an entrepreneur. Well, sort of.
Mending my kiln was the scariest activity: involving chipping away at the kiln’s bricks; replacing the electrical element and connectors (some while the kiln was at 500C); and troubleshooting without overreacting. My hand reached for the phone to get in an expert many times.
All the discussions about the last man to know everything – Aristotle, according to the BBC; Coleridge, amongst others, suggested at The Guardian – don’t include these practical tasks in ‘everything’.
Marx had the right idea in my book: people (well, men, probably) should be able “to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner”. This is in The German Ideology, the full quote is worth reading, at the bottom of the post. Of course, with domestic responsibilities it’s usually “take kids to school in the morning, work in the afternoon, make dinner in the evening, do the washing after dinner”. I often think women’s committment to craft is undepinned, strongly although not always explicitly, by a committment to a more communal politics.
OneMarylebone drawing for MADE londonOneMarylebone drawing for MADE londonAs well as taking photographs, I’ve been getting ready for MADE London (24-26 Oct) by preparing some marketing material. I think I like my first, rough drawing almost the best – one of the hard realisations for me about art was that ‘hard work’ doesn’t always improve things…
I’ve also been thinking about how to include other people’s making in my practice, as I talked about last week. Workshops, like at Peckham space are one option’; I’m also thinking of ‘kits’ – upcycled maybe, rather than ‘Kirstie Allsopp’ style. Or maybe, as an app: I’m starting my Future Learn Android programming course soon!
glaze detail

From The German Ideology, 1945
“For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”

2 responses to “the division of labour

  1. I think I’ve seen Ptolemy on the telly, drawing, on an architecure show maybe? His sister is Tacita Dean, who has had a lot of shows at Tate Modern – I saw some wonderful drawings of ships on blackboards at her show a while ago.


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