Words and images : Kellie Craig Last week students from College 4: Make and Manufacture visited Ruthin Craft Centre in North Wales in reorder to develop their ideas from both creative and commercial points of view. The aim of the trip was to establish the link between practice and business, in order to contextualise the products they will make for the craft fair at the end of the project. Ruthin Craft Centre is a centre for contemporary craft, incorporating gallery spaces and studios for artist residencies. It is from here that local artists both create and sell their work, engaging the creative and commercial sides of their practice. Artist in residence Sean Harris spoke of the success of an artist as being that which allows the individual to make a living from what they love doing. In a business sense, the students have had to think about the potential costings and organisation of self-employment, balancing the ideas of selling stock to make money while still demonstrating an inherent passion for their craft. The exhibition currently on display in the main gallery, the Jerwood Makers Open, also gave context to the possibility of branching out and learning new skills to accompany their specialist crafts. Most of the artists and makers featured in this exhibition have diverted away from their original practice to an extent, incorporating a range of different medias including photography, video installation and sculpture. This experimental approach to exhibiting craft was partly facilitated by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, giving emerging artists the opportunity to explore and engage in their craft in new and innovative ways. While students continue to think about the viability of turning their practice into a business, some of seemed surprised at the cost of some of the items for sale in the gallery shop. Indeed, the least expensive item I came across was an espresso cup priced at £34, but both the students and artists know that the true cost of creating handmade items goes way further than face value. The consumer is not only purchasing something unique, but also an artefact that has gone through numerous creative processes, using bespoke materials, with hours of painstaking labour in order to be finally realised into a “product” rather than a work of art or craft. After talking to groups it was clear that the trip had given them the necessary inspiration in order to pursue their projects and also inform their own practice away from Unit X.