Throughout 2016 Craftspace celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. Made in the Middle touring exhibition has been a constant feature of Craftspace’s artistic programme over the last thirty years. The development activities associated with the exhibition have included curators’ forums, learning and engagement projects and partnerships with corporate business. It has also provided commissioned opportunities for exhibition designers, graphic designers, photographers and other freelancers.

Beginning as the ‘West Midlands Craft Open’ in 1988, it evolved into the recurrent open selling exhibition Made in the Middle. It is selected by an expert panel and developed and curated by Craftspace in partnership with different regional gallery on each occasion. Over the years it has been a touchstone to survey changes and trends in makers and making, first in the west midlands and latterly across the whole of the midlands. From 2002 more lead in time was built in giving selected makers an opportunity to develop new work and curation became more thematic. A critical approach to curation ensures that Made in the Middle remains relevant; highlighting current developments and issues within the contemporary craft sector.

‘Made in the Middle 30' online exhibition celebrates the history of this exhibition series and the nearly 250 makers who have been involved. It tells the story of Made in the Middle through its exhibitors from 1988 to the present.

This online retrospective acknowledges what it means to be a maker in the midlands through insights into techniques, ideas and lives. Reflecting on the seven editions of the exhibition over three decades draws attention to how craft practices and careers have changed and progressed. For example we can see, looking back and comparing contexts and objects made then and now, the enormous impact of the digital revolution.

The eighth edition of the physical touring exhibition launches at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in December 2016. ‘Made in the Middle 30’ online provides a historical backdrop to the current position of craft within the creative industries. It acknowledges the different galleries and museums which have played a role in supporting curation, production, retailing and touring.  It makes visible and accessible an archive and wealth of resources amassed over thirty years.

We invited Louise Taylor who worked at Craftspace from 1991 to 1996 to curate this online exhibition. She was instrumental in the early development of Made in the Middle into a regional touring exhibition of high quality and standing. Her essay, ‘Neither North nor South’, gives an insight to its development and the changes it has witnessed, from her perspective and that of the makers who have been involved.

We have also collaborated with the University of Wolverhampton; Graphic Design department, whose students responded to a live brief to develop and propose design concepts for the website.

We hope you enjoy delving into the history of this exhibition as much as we have enjoyed researching and collating the archives. You can also join in by sharing images of your own work. To find out more visit Get Involved.



Guest Curator: Louise Taylor

Research and development: Jackie Lee, freelance; Ella Marshall exhibition intern at Craftspace

Development and production: Emma Daker, Amy Kirkham and Hannaa Hamdache at Craftspace

Website collaboration: Jeff Leak, Senior Lecturer, Visual Communications, University of Wolverhampton

Website design: Jeavan Tagger

Website development and build: Tom Mayman, Mayman Designs

We would also like to thank all the exhibitors from 1988 – 2012 for their support and time, particularly those exhibiting in ’30 Years 30 Makers’.