When people say "craft is having a moment" what they really mean is that craft is being accepted into the gallery system and becoming 'ART'. Some of us have always known that craft can be art but for makers with extreme abilities or who push the conceptual envelope of craft, the accolades and the prices haven't reflected this until very recently. As interest in craft has grown with collectors prices have increased and so too has the possibility for the makers to experiment beyond beautifully made practical objects. Britain's Crafts Council is keenly aware of this and has created an exhibition called Collect Open that reflects this shift. The show lives beneath the umbrella event Collect that is now in its 14th year. While Collect is a platform for specialist craft galleries from all over the world to showcase their wares (35 of them in 2018), Collect Open is a curated exhibition of around a dozen makers whose work lifts craft from it's humble roots to something brave and exceptional.
Collect 2018 was an event held over four days at the Saatchi Gallery, in Chelsea's King's Road in London just over a week ago. Along side the multitude of galleries from four continents that were representing over 400 artists were the installations of Collect Open and an exhibition of 20th and 21st century master potters.
Masters of British Studio Pottery was a 'selling show' - an exhibition of works by some of Britains most exceptional ceramic talents such as Alison Britton, Hans Coper, Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, and Julian Stair - with many of the works available for sale.
Above left is 'Standpipe' by Alison Britton (2012). Photo Philip Sayer, courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery. Above right is 'I’ll Rise to You' by Nicholas Rena (2012). Photo Michael Harvey, courtesy of Oxford Ceramics Gallery.
The very first exhibition the Crafts Council staged in 1972 showcased over 100 pieces of studio pottery by 10 British potters. Works from this show formed the foundation of our national Collection of contemporary craft.
Also included in this stellar line up was the work of the late Gwyn Hanssen Piggot who while Australian was considered an honourary British potter due to the fact that she established her first studio in London while living there in the late 50's and early 60’s and had trained under many of the greats of the British studio pottery including Cardew, Leach and Rie.
Jay Osgerby of BarberOsgerby, joined Annabelle Campbell , the Crafts Council head of exhibitions and collections and project curator Julia Ravenscroft in selecting the 14 artists and studios the exhibited in this year’s parallel event Collect Open. Rather than being a celebration and sale of past masters, Collect Open showcases the work of lesser know and younger studios and artists. While ceramics made up a high proportion of the selection, artists working in timber metal and textiles were also included.
'Harvest' by Mella Shaw as seen above was a large installation of smoke-fired slip-cast fish in rusty colours interspersed with white cast porcelain objects that are normally produced in plastic - water and soda bottles, oil containers and the like. The installation was an alarming comment of the devastating effect of sea plastic in our oceans with the dreadful fact that by 2050 the amount of sea plastic will outweigh the weight of fish in our oceans.
Seoul based textile artist OMA, works in a side of fashion that is rarely seen, respecting traditional handcrafts and with a deep belief in humanistic values and the environment. Her work can be worn but is also so beautifully created that it can stand up to scrutiny as an artwork in itself. At Collect Open she presented the installation 'NUMEN'.
Juliette Bigley is a metalsmith from Walthamston, East London. Her work consists of objects made from metals and precious metals her pieces are hand made from flat sheet metals that are cut, formed and hammered into shapes. Her work is often created as a group of objects that maintain a dialogue with each other through their size material characteristic and placement.
Circle of Porcelain is an installation made from individual porcelain pieces arranged on a circular table. The weight and dimensions of the porcelain references the artists own body in a comment on the fragility of human existence. Paraskeva has used traditional porcelain techniques for several decades to produce exceptional bowls and table ware but in recent years she has begun to experiment with installations of a large number of vessels, both fired and unfired, in various states of collapse.
You can get a real sense of the hands on creativity of the artists involved in Collect Open by viewing the following videos: woodturners, carvers and textile makers, Forest & Founders, ceramicist, Sue Paraskeva and
With thirty five galleries representing more than ten artists each it is impossible to give any real indication of the breadth and quality of the work on show but below are a few examples of work that particularly excited Design daily in ceramics (and objects that look like ceramic when there not!). The full list of participating galleries are listed with links to their websites.
50 Golborne, Bishopsland Educational Trust, Bullseye Projects, Cavaliero Finn, Collection Ateliers d'art de France, Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Designer Bookbinders, ESH Gallery, Galerie Dutko, Galerie Marzee, Galerie Metzger, Gallerie Format Oslo, Gallery S O, Goldsmiths Fair, Guilded, ICHEO CERAMIC by Gallery LVS & LVS CRAFT, jaggedart, JAPANPAGE / CraftMeet, Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections, JOYA Barcelona Jewellery Fair, Katie Jones, Korea Craft & Design Foundation, London Glassblowing Gallery, MADEINBRITALY, Maison Parisienne, Mint, North Lands Creative, Officine Saffi, Oxford Ceramics Gallery, Ruthin Craft Centre, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, Scotland: Craft & Design, SEE••DS, Sikijang, Spazio Nobile, Tansey Contemporary, Thalen & Thalen, Ting-YIng, Vessel Gallery, Widell Projects
Ricourt sources the material for his organic wood objects from the surroundings in which he lives, (near Dijon in France) translating the nature around him into sculpture. He initially turns locally sourced wood on the lathe, then intricately carves and then treats the surfaces. Through various processes like bleaching, dying and the application of ferrous oxide he creates bizarre but ethereal works of art.
For more on the artists, galleries and installations shown at Collect 2018 take a look here.