Phil Baird: Radical Craft Selector

It’s only the first week of the new year, and we’re already very excited about our upcoming exhibition in collaboration with Craftspace, ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making.’ This week, we’ve asked Outside In Award Winner Phil Baird to write about his experience of being a selector for the open call out.

“I was very honoured to be asked to be a selector for the Radical Craft exhibition. Time – as we know – passes by very quickly as we get older and hence it soon happened that I was presented with six hundred and nineteen images to sort through with the aim of selecting around twenty to be featured in a touring exhibition.


Joanna Simpson, Good Luck Gum Nut Folk

We were given three questions all describing different aspects and qualities of each work, and we had to mark where we would rate each piece on a sliding scale. I have a natural aversion to grading works of art. I have a friend who is an A level adjudicator – a job I would not like very much. Not least because my A level grade was the lowest pass (an E!).

Looking through this huge body of work, I became aware of a community of makers. All sort of folks making works – some in structured groups, some individually, some trained, some untrained, but there was an overall sense of togetherness.


Maria Wicko, Bird with Open Wings

I saw my work as forming a dialogue between two community groups: the makers and the audience. I decided to grade relatively high as I was of the opinion that if the artwork fitted the basic criteria then it should at least have the chance of a place in the exhibition. Sure, there were several WOW works that had to receive top marks, but there were many others that in my opinion could also qualify.

There were four other selectors, and after we had all made our own selections individually online, we met at Pallant House Gallery to look through a whittled down list. This is where we came to decide on the final twenty artists. This group had to fulfill various criteria for being able to be included in a major touring exhibition – we had to consider practical things like size and ability to transport.



We also engaged in an interesting conversation about what the word craft means. Some works were to me paintings and not really craft, although they may have displayed a certain craftsmanship. The approach was to select the most apt work that fulfilled the criteria points.

I am looking forward to visiting the exhibition in a number of the venues and will perhaps write something about the different contexts, the relationships that are formed, and the way the images ‘talk’ to each other in situ. Thanks to the Outside in team for such a rich, enjoyable and interesting experience!”

rosemarymcleish ironging

Rosemary McLeish, What I Do When I Don’t Do the Ironing

Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making will open on 12 March 2016 at Pallant House Gallery, where it will be until 12 June before touring nationally. Click here for more information on the exhibition

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