index artisans

Experiences and developments that started during a project for Andean weavers of the IPACE of the SENATI in Lima (1999-2002) led to the dream of an Andean Academy for rural Peru's artisans

From October 1999 until December 2002, I assisted the IPACE of the SENATI ('Institute of Audiovisual Pedagogics in Enterprise Trainings' of the 'National Service of Industrial Formation') in Lima, in an initial technical and entrepreneurial training project for Andean weavers.
The IPACE had asked my co-operation through PUM, the Netherlands Senior Experts. It was my task to investigate the decorative quality of the weavers' goods and to start on stimulating their creative talent, their goods' determinant. I had gathered some experience in the field in Africa.
Working with the weavers revealed a remarkable creative power and initiated, from the very beginning, a change in their attitude towards the possibilities of their craftsmanship.

As there were no manuals on this specific matter, I immediately set to prepare a graphic guide on elaborating ornaments, playing with colors and lines and thinking in fields of application.
Elaborated were plans for long-term all-round trainings of the whole of the hundreds of thousands of rural Peru's artisans (weavers, ceramists and jewelers) in which the stimulation and application of the creative talent figure large.
In autum 2001, together with their educator Nelson Saavedra Gallo, one of the members of the core of the IPACE, I started on coaching the first handful of future instructors from among the artisans and on elaborating a primer (abecedario) for this specific training; meant for instructors as well as for self-instruction.
To prepare the idea of working for interior decoration and fashion, we started to pay special attention to the rhythm of designs and to the interaction of decorative unities with space.
In 2002 the IPACE organized two workshops together with the INC (Instituto Nacional de Cultura) in Lima, in which ceramists and jewelers participated as well.
The IPACE project expired in 2002, without a follow-up.
From August 2001, owing to their politics, PUM did not honour SENATI's requests for my assistance any longer and the Bruno Schulz Institute saw to that I could carry on.

Searched for are, by various institutions involved in the matter, the necessary funds to go on with this kind of projects. With regard to the results achieved up until now, and the number of rural Peru's artisans, adequate and continuous training facilities for them and the following generations could initiate structural changes, professionally as well as socially.
Searched for are, as well, enterprises that would like to work together with the artisans in designing interior decoration or fashion.

In November 2003 I worked in two series of workshops of 'Perú Emprendedor' in the Region of Cajamarca, starting with the alphabetization of the creative talents of female weavers.
Talked about was, as well, the dream of an academy for artisans, (weavers, ceramists and jewelers) permanent training facilities that could stand the comparison with academies of art and industrial design.

In November 2004 I worked with ceramists in Ollantaytambo, in the Region of Cusco.

Some statistics:

To the statistics of the Peruvian Ministry of Industry and Tourism of 2002, some two million people are working in the sector of arts and crafts and some ninety-eight thousand workshops give regular employment to about half a million artisans.
There are 23 608 registered workshops in the classic sense of arts and crafts all over Peru.
There are about four times the number of not registered workshops, that are run by (three, perhaps four) members of a family. It is they who badly need training.

Some essentials when activating the artisans' talents

Whoever activates the creative talent and however it proceeds: from my experiences in Africa and Peru I learned that the following is essential

1. Generally

  • Fixed working hours.
  • Announcing the day's program.
  • Gymnastics to make the participants feel their bodies.
  • Working both in groups and alone.
  • Working both listening to music and in silence.
  • Elaborating every topic in different materials.
  • Playing with images and materials - as such and in the fields of use.
  • Using computers, if possible.
  • Discussing the use of their time, as development permanently needs time.
  • Recapitulating the day's work before leaving at night.
  • Evaluating the past day's work in the morning.
2. A good start

The activation can be realized with any material in reach. To begin with, I prefere tin-foil. It is a quick medium; in the beginning they need quick results.

  • With masks they crash into another world.
  • Pressing the foil on their faces it bears, taken off again, their expressions.
  • They need help pressing the foil on their faces; accepting the help they accept being touched.
  • Laughing at their own expressions, they paint the masks. This relieving laughter matters a lot.
  • Stitching their masks to the walls, they decorate the room with first chains of abstractions and are proud.
"I could not breath any more", a woman said, "I had to tear that skin off my face". They feel that shaping images is like shaping an external skin.

3. The succession

  • Observing.
  • Shaping the observed freely in different materials.
  • Extracting ornaments of the shaped.
  • Elaborating the design.
  • Elaborating the blueprint.
  • Realizing a prototype.
4. Paying attention to the feeling for rhythm and melody
  • Drawing to different rhythms.
  • Dancing to different rhythms.
  • Feeling how different arrangements of images, lines, colors and objects change the impression of a space.
  • Breaking fixed patterns, discovering new ones.

a basic structure for an academy for rural artisans
index artisans