skip to main content

Blame the Tools: Crafty Robots, Well-behaved Implements and Disobedient Devices

Event date
30 April 2020 (9.30am to 6pm)
Blame the Tools: Crafty Robots, Well-behaved Implements and Disobedient Devices

Blame the Tools: Crafty Robots, Well-behaved Implements and Disobedient Devices Symposium

POSTPONED - NEW DATE TO BE CONFIRMED. Read below for details.

There has been a long-standing recognition in the arts, humanities and the social sciences of the importance of tools and implements and the ways in which they are used to create, transform and enhance objects. The character of these tools – the ways in which they are handled, the skills and practices that underpin and enable their application – has received less attention. Yet the character of the tool and its embodied use is critical to the creation of and our encounter with objects and artefacts.

In this symposium, we will bring together practitioners and academics from various fields and disciplines to discuss and debate the importance of tools in creation of works of art, craft and design practice. We will explore how various developments in techniques and technologies are providing new distinctive ways of creating and encountering material objects.

This symposium will address such issues as:

·     How digital technologies create new affinities between traditional tools and craft

·     Imagination and adaptation in the use of traditional and non-traditional tools

·     Tool use and innovation in the circular economy

·     How tool use supports shared social activities

Speakers include:

Paul Atkinson, Phil Ayres, Linda Brothwell, Christian Heath, Mark Hooper, Alex Monroe, Gareth Neal, Deborah Sugg-Ryan, Liss Werner.


·     Accidents in the making that challenge the repetitive and banal, glitches that trigger and stimulate

·     Experimentation and adventurous manufacturing to create new materials and material uses

·     How new technologies disrupt the status quo of manufacturing models and how increasingly consumers become prosumers

·     Do new technologies inspire or constrain? Are myths of brilliance obscuring the exclusionary potential and difficulties of new technologies?

·     New relationships between creator and audiences, the rise of local bespoke makers through new global networks

·     How does a maker recognise how their choice of materials and manipulation of tools influence an object’s production, to what extent do they condition and adapt the intended affordances of a tool? 

·     How tools support/limit action and interaction, and how they embody and condition social interchange, the everyday and the extraordinary.

·     Contingent and overt dialogues between maker, object and recipient: can these sensitivities be understood and surveyed through the narrative of tool use?

·     The impact of civic agency and responsibility of the tool wielder, the students, fixers, makers, hackers and thinkers through changing ethical and sustainable practices.

·     Can access or lack of access to tools limit the ambition or ideas of the maker?

PLEASE NOTE: In line with the changing protocol surrounding the novel coronavirus COVID-19, it is with great regret that UAL has taken the decision to postpone the Blame the Tools symposium on 30 April. We are in the process of rescheduling the event. Please follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. If you have any queries, please contact Gabriele Grigorjeva (

This symposium is convened by Dr Jason Cleverly and Professor Adrian Friend as part of the Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon: Research Events Public Programme 2019-2020. Project partners: London Craft Week and King’s College London

Related Events

Get involved! Connect To: Creative Network Meet Ups

Get involved! Connect To: Creative Network Meet Ups

  • 3 October 2019 - 2 July 2020
  • Location: London College of Communication

Are you a student whose parent(s)/ guardian(s) have not completed a University Degree? Then come along to find out who we are, the work we do and upcoming projects that you can get involved in to support your creative ambitions!



  • 9 March 2020 - 5 May 2020
  • Location: Wimbledon Space, Wimbledon College of Arts

Group exhibition bringing together 4 artists who explore sculptural form in dynamic and often temporal outcomes.