Keep Clear – street art in Llanarmon D.C.

They’ve been putting new street markings on the road outside the school in Llanarmon D.C.

I watched for about half an hour as the two men used a tool like a tin-can on a stick, filled with melted bituminous paint. The tin-can like cup had a slit in the base, and as it was pulled across the tarmac surface, it left a thick line of the yellow paint. The team worked quickly and without hesitation –  a rough grid of chalk lines marked on the road their only guide; it was extremely impressive. But was I watching craftsmanship… or art?

I’ve just been reading The Case for Working With Your Hands, by Matthew Crawford [Viking, 2009]. One of the book’s main threads is the declining value of “craft” within industry, and the way in which this decline has undermined our collective sense of individual agency. Crawford identifies what he calls the “cognitive [ie: creative] richness of the skilled trades”. I suddenly started thinking about this with reference to Dorothy’s recent musing on her own blog about creativity.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was not an uncommon idea that trade and industry could be creative – artistic, even. Crawford makes the point that the sense of creativity within trade and industry hasn’t been so much lost but hidden – because we have chosen to describe the work of the road marking team sign as “skilled” rather than “creative”.

If we’re talking about exploring the creative links between the practice of art and the practice of business, perhaps we should start to look for creativity rather than assume it’s not there.