New Zero Art Space

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From Craft to Art: Community Based Art Developemnt Project

July 2014 - March 2015 [First Year]

From Craft > Art” is a pilot project, designed by New Zero Art Space in collaboration with the British Council with the aim of exploring and creating opportunities for combining artistic creation with traditional crafts in the ethnic regions.

We believe that crafts from regional areas play an important role in preserving our regional ethnic minorities’ culture, tradition and identity. Thus it is imperative that the craftsmen and artisans from these areas have access to creative knowledge. Due to increasing pressure for commercially focused products, some handcrafts have gradually lost artistic creation which is the essence of handcrafts. To help raise the profile of local handcrafts and extend their market in and outside the country, it is necessary that these local craftsmen should have the exposure, skills and knowledge to be able to develop new product ranges.

Six ethnic regions have been selected for the project and these include Shan State, Kachin State, Mon State, Chin State, Mandalay Division and TaNinTharYe Division. Our target groups are cottage industries who have for generations been producing crafts in their traditional methods yet willing and ready to try new ways of working with us. Survey trips to these ethnic regions will be organized so as to identify and select the target groups and the types of crafts to be focused on.

Site-based artistic workshops in these areas will be the first phase of the project and these will be led by New Zero artists. These will serve as the meeting ground for the artists and local craftsmen and artisans to exchange ideas, knowledge and skills to demonstrate how to combine arts and crafts and design new crafts. The second phase will be skills development workshops in Yangon where selected local participants of the site-based workshops will learn from and work together with regional and/or UK artists to further develop their products designed at the site-based workshops. This will also give them the chance to learn more about the products designed by craftsmen from other regions. The final products, which are both artistic and marketable items, will be exhibited in Yangon to gain a maximum attention of key influencers from both private and government sectors and creative industries.

Main Objectives of the Project

  • To develop traditional handicraft to be creative and artistic products to sustain and expand market
  • To encourage the collaboration of artists and craft men to develop innovative ideas through art education in regional and national level
  • To promote accessibility to local and international craft market through developing creative and artistic products
  • To create regional hubs for future dialogue and collaboration with the artists and craftspeople locally
  • To exchange knowledge, practice, expertise and technology among local and international artists


  • 6 x regional Survey Trips to Shan State, Kachin State, Mon State, Chin State, Mandalay Division and TaNinTharYe Division to learn about the local crafts business and identify and select target groups to work with. These trips will serve as the starting point of the project, a need analysis of our target groups and the findings will be documented both digitally and on paper for designing the components for skills training site-based workshops. We will get the support from local crafts centres like Inle Heritage House, Mandalay Contemporary Art Centre and also Millennium Centres to help us build new networks with the local crafts communities.
  • 20-day x 3 regional site-based workshopsconducted by New Zero artists for the selected craftsmen and artisans from cottage industries. The contents of the workshop will include:
              Brainstorming upon creativity
              Creating crafts in artistic way that represent the image of the respective communities, places and people
              Exchangingof skills and expertise between artists and handicraft makers
  • 2-week Yangon-based workshop at New Zero Art Space with invited regional or UK artist/s with the selected participants from regional site-based workshops. The workshop will focus on contemporary art development and aim to further develop the newly designed products which are the outcomes of the site-based workshops. This is also an opportunity for overseas artist/s and local craftsmen to learn about each other culture through crafts.
  • Exhibitionin Yangon to display selected final works from Yangon-based workshop and the main audiences will include gallery owners, craft dealers, craft makers, tourism companies and other related organizations. Through the exhibition we aim to introduce the local target audience a new concept of combining art and highlight the important role ethnic handicrafts play in their cultures, traditions and society.

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