Traditionally, the disciplines of anthropology and art have faced in opposite directions: the former dedicated to understanding forms of life as we find them; the latter to the creation of forms never before encountered. This talk is founded on the premise that the traditional opposition is untenable. Not only would the work of art carry no force unless grounded in a profound understanding of the lived world; but anthropological accounts of the manifold ways along which life is lived would also be of no avail unless brought to bear on speculative inquiries into what the possibilities for human life might be. Thus art and anthropology have in common that they observe, describe and create. Their orientations are as much towards human futures as towards human pasts: these are futures, however, that are not conjured from thin air but forged in the crucible of contemporary social lives. Their aim is to join with these lives in the common task of fashioning a sustainable world – one that is fit for coming generations to inhabit. By sustainability is not meant the maintenance of human environmental relations in a steady state, but rather the possibility for life to carry on. In such a world, the fashioning of things must also be their unfinishing, so as to allow every generation to begin afresh. With examples drawn from studies of landscape, craft, building and the performing arts, the implications of this view for the principles and practice of artistic and anthropological research will be discussed.