Tunisia Made 2012 explores the relationship between traditional crafts in Tunisia throughout history and the turmoil of recent political events culminating in the revolution of January 2011.
On 10th April 2012 Amamou Salah, Head of the National Handicrafts League in Tunisia, sent a timely letter to the country’s newly elected post revolution prime minister, Hamadi Jabali, detailing how twenty three years of pre-revolution corruption had sent the craft industries into wholesale decline. Up until 1996 these industries were still the country’s largest employer. It also detailed proposals to revive this situation, including a call for greater involvement from graduate artists and designers in determining a new future. With greater freedom of speech and expression, the time is ripe for exploring a new cultural identity.
The project works with the spirit of Salah’s proposals actively addressing the re-invigoration of these culturally and economically important industries. Tunisia Made 2012 is a series of contemporary vessels inspired by the distinctive jug forms from seventeenth century Ottoman rule in Tunisia. They embrace a traditional craft technique in danger of extinction – hand turned terra cotta – dating back to the Phoenician era. Hand etched copper handles influenced by Berber designs add unexpected material value to the otherwise humble earthenware. The family of vessels transcend Tunisia’s traditional craft heritage bringing it into the 21st Century, outlining an approach intended to stimulate the industry and regenerate market interest.