World Craft Region
In 2017, Bornholm became the first place in Europe and the first island in the world to be named a World Craft Region. The designation gives international recognition to Bornholm’s unique craft art environment and was awarded by the World Craft Council (WCC), the biggest international organisation for craft art in the world. The international honour positions Bornholm as a centre of craft art in Europe and recognises Bornholm’s craft art traditions and the many creative, innovative and distinguished craft artists based on the island. The jury’s justification for awarding this title is based on the island’s long-standing tradition which originally arose through the production of glass and ceramics. This led to the development of a wide, strong and embedded eco-system of craft artists, workshops, museums, biennales and educational facilities on the island. The jury also perceives the standard of multidisciplinary craft art expertise on Bornholm to be on a par with the best of international craft art.
The historic tradition of ceramic and glass art on Bornholm goes back centuries, exemplified by the earthenware still being produced according to the original principles at Hjorths Fabrik, a ceramics factory founded 150 years ago. In the early 1800s, the island made a name for itself when the first international craft artists were attracted by the quality of the materials, the aesthetics of the products and the interrelationship with nature inherent in the materials and design. The large clay pits near towns – such as Pyritsøen and Safirsøen lakes near Sorthat/Muleby, Rubinsøen lake near Hasle and Lergravsvejen in south Rønne – supplied raw materials of sublime quality to the many faience and terracotta factories, potters and ceramists for centuries. Together with the professional glass-blowers of the 1800s, they helped put Bornholm on the international map.
Over time, Bornholm’s culture and tradition for developing craft art has engendered an enormous creative force, budding talents and the use of unconventional methods. Nature, raw materials and classic craftsmanship have attracted adept international craft artists and world-class talents. In addition to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art’s School of Design, situated in Nexø, there are countless creative workshops where craft artists explore the inherent potential and possibilities of the materials. Craft art on Bornholm is found in all sorts of materials and disparate craft art traditions. Although glass and ceramics are the most widespread, there are also craft art traditions within textiles, woodworking and jewellery, as well as leather and other natural materials. The young generation of Bornholm craft artists are particularly fond of experimenting with methods and techniques in areas where art and craft art converge. This has proved quite unique.
Maker’s Island Bornholm represents craft artists, museums and biennales, past and present, tourism, business, employment and education, together forming a solid foundation on which to develop the island’s craft artists, attractions and institutions, big and small. Maker’s Island Bornholm is supported by the Arts & Crafts Association Bornholm (ACAB), Bornholm Art Museum, Grønbechs Gård, Hjorths Fabrik, the School of Design, Bornholm in Nexø, Destination Bornholm, and Business Center Bornholm, with the Regional Municipality of Bornholm leading the way. The many diversified craft art traditions on Bornholm manifest the multiple creative forces branching out across the island. Many, but not all, are organised in the Arts & Crafts Association ACAB. ACAB is an association of craft artists where any craft artist wishing to join mustbe approvedby an external assessment committee beforehand. ACAB has existed since 2002 and has 70 members today.
Bornholm is the first island in the world to have been awarded this title. With such an acknowledgement, it is natural to feel an obligation to maintain the high level of professionalism and artistic quality in the future as well. But this requires small, and perhaps unknown, craft artists to be recognised for their work and opportunities to be created for the continued development of the trades and crafts. Bornholm craft art’s tradition for development and cooperation is reflected in the island’s ecosystem of institutions, museums and open workshops, which offer visitors experiences and inspiration all year round.