This week I was honoured with the opportunity to open the Appledore Visual Arts Festival. At the opening event, more than two hundred artists, craftspeople and arts students were gathered to celebrate the power of imagination, creativity and human spirit.

I was particularly delighted because at this festival there is no division between the arts and crafts. Artists need to be as skilful as artisans and artisans need to be as imaginative as artists. I hope that the world at large can learn from the Appledore Visual Arts Festival and free itself from the art-craft divide. We cannot afford to put artists on a pedestal above the craftspeople.

I was impressed that at this festival there are no separate compartments for beauty and utility. Things that are useful should be beautiful, and beautiful, in my view, is always useful. Beauty is food for the soul. At this festival I rejoiced in the marriage of the arts and crafts, utility and beauty, function and form.

The work of Sandy Brown, my friend and artistic Director of the Festival, is a perfect example of this union between the arts and crafts. She is a potter, a painter and an activist. Almost everything in her presence is handmade and exquisitely elegant. She has championed the need for integrity in the arts by highlighting ecological and social transformation as a cultural theme. The theme of the Appledore Visual Arts Festival this year is Arts and the Earth.

We need to move away from the purely materialistic, consumer culture of the industrial age and embrace the Earth as our home. We need to take care of the Earth and celebrate her beauty and bounty through pottery and poetry, cooking and singing, making and imagining, doing and dancing.

The arts will set us free and the crafts will make us happy.

Dear reader, what do you think?