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

Event date
8 October 2020 (10am to 6pm)
Blame the Tools: Crafty Robots, Well-behaved Implements and Disobedient Devices

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


8 October 2020

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 tools are handled, the skills and practices that underpin and enable their use and application – has received less attention. Yet it is the character of the tool and its embodied use, that become critical in the creation of – and our encounter with – objects and artefacts.


Together with practitioners and academics from across disciplines, this symposium invites makers, curators, crafters, designers, historians, artists, collectors, architects, storytellers, users and social scientists to share understandings of the tool from multiple viewpoints.

The symposium will address the following questions:


  • How might digital technologies create new affinities with traditional tools and craft practices, and provide distinctive new ways of creating and encountering material objects?
  • What is the importance of imagination and adaptation in the use of traditional and non-traditional tools?
  • How does tool use contribute towards structures and practices of co-making and social agency? And what part does it play in circular economy?

Keynote presentations by:

Paul Atkinson – Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Cardiff University

Phil Ayres – architect, researcher and educator. He is Associate Professor at CITA, which he joined in 2009 after a decade of teaching and research at the Bartlett, UCL.

The day will be chaired by Mark Hooper – an award-winning editor, writer and consultant.

Full list of contributors will be announced soon.

This symposium is convened by Dr Jason Cleverly and Professor Adrian Friend as part of the Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon: Research Events Public Programme.

Project partners: London Craft Week and King’s College London

UPDATE: In line with the government guidelines and social distancing restrictions still in place, we are working towards a revised structure for this event. More details will be announced as soon as possible. If you are interested in attending this event, please email We will be in touch with you with updates on the programme and information about booking your place.

About Research at Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon (UAL)

Research at Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon (UAL) is the home of our research degree and taught postgraduate students, Professors, Readers and Fellows, and visiting tutors, as well as established research centres and research networks. Central to the success of our department is the quality of its research provision, the calibre of staff and students, and the existence of sustainable partnerships and collaborative arrangements with external institutions, organisations and key individuals in the cultural sector and beyond. 

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