Stephen Knott, PhD

Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery

Detail of Times Square, Reeves Painting by Numbers Kit

Acrylic on quality textured Artboard

Amateur Craft as a Differential Practice

Hermann Fugger is an industrialist and amateur cook in Georges Perecs novelLife: A Users Manual. A peripheral character, he arrives early at a party to prepare his boar stew the most delectable thing on earth much to the annoyance of the hosts who, despite Fuggers love of cooking, turn him away. Amateur craft practice is the freest temporality available within limiting structures: individuals can make without external pressure. Nevertheless, like Fugger, the output, space and experience of amateur practice is routinely marginalised and set against valorised professional standards.

My PhD thesis argues that amateur craft practice is differential within capitalism: inherently dependent on its structures, while simultaneously stretching, refracting and quietly subverting them. I adopt interdisciplinary methods to conceptualise the motivations that drive amateur practice, with historical case studies serving to substantiate the theoretical claims made. These voluntarily chosen activities provide a vital reprieve or supplement to an individuals primary occupation, a temporary moment of control over labour-power in which the world can be shaped anew.

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Supported by: AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, joint with History of Design programme



MA, European History, University College London, 2008; BA (Hons), History, University College London, 2006


Managing editor, Journal of Modern Craft, London, 2012 to present; Visiting lecturer, Royal College of Art, 2011 to present; Visiting lecturer, Kingston University, London, 2011 to present


Research Exhibition, Royal College of Art, 2010; Effe Kijke: Let’s Have a Look II: Overcoat, Galerie Marzee, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2009–10


Studentship, Collaborative Doctoral Award GSM&J/History of Design, Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2008