Collect, the Craft Council’s annual fair, was established to showcase the premium end of contemporary craft, from museum-quality pieces in ceramic, glass and wood to conceptual installations. Collect filled the entire Saatchi Gallery for its fourteenth edition, where the Crafts Council gathered 40 of the most prestigious galleries together to show more than 400 artists, from 13 countries around the world. It was a celebration of making, in all its disciplines. And talking of museum-quality, the V&A were actually at the show purchasing for their collections.
When the weather is cold, don’t we all just want to cozy up and look at something pretty? Today I have 12 favorite finds from my recent visit to Collect, and I can't wait to share them with you. This is Mary and I’m back on decor8 today with more inspiration for you from the UK.
I’m not much of a crafter myself, I think it must have skipped a generation as my Mom and my Grandmother were avid knitters and makers. Not me though, I’m quite hopeless.
A recent Craft Council survey found that 25-44 is the fastest growing age range of amateur crafters, from knitting clubs to spoon carving. It's not just a homegrown phenomenon though as there is a rise in professional designer-makers too. Maybe it’s a response to our increasingly digital lives. Maybe it is the need to do something physical with our hands. Whatever is at the heart of its increase, I think it’s great to see so much talent and creativity on display.
The sheer breadth of work is impressive at Collect, and there was so much that I really liked. To keep it simple, I’m going to share the 12 pieces that captured my attention.
1// This year, designer Jay Osgerby and the Crafts Council team selected 14 makers from across the craft spectrum for Collect Open. One of those selected was Forest + Found who created their largest installations to date. Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth who make up Forest + Found work with wood, natural pigments and textiles to produce sculptural and wall-based works. Their installation The Between explored the way humans interact with made objects.
2// I first saw the work of Vezzini & Chen at the Future Heritage exhibition at Decorex in 2016. Cristina Vezzini specializes in handcrafted ceramics, and Stan Chen is a glassblower. They bring both disciplines together to make incredible objects, with my favorites being their lighting pieces. A highlight of the Ting-Ying Gallery booth.
3// Louis Thompson, represented by the London Glassblowing Gallery, is a highly regarded artist working in glass. His artworks can be found in museum collections in Japan, Germany and the USA. What I loved about his textured pieces was the overwhelming desire to touch them. Full of bumps and curves and reminiscent of colorful alien-like sea creatures, they had a bold yet playful feel to them. I imagine they’d look fantastic styled in a little tabletop vignette.
4// Another watery, colorful and otherworldly example of gorgeous glass work. Glass artist Tim Rawlison (also with the London Glassblowing Gallery) uses two different processes that distort the layers of color within the blown glass components, giving the illusion of ink dispersed in water. This was one of the pieces that I would happily have walked away from the Fair with, if money were no object, of course.
6// Jo Taylor’s colorful Pride & Joy series was inspired by the Pride badge worn by someone close to her. Jo’s work made me smile as soon as I saw it because it was vivid, bold and saturated in color. The relationship between the six colors is fascinating but ultimately happy. Jo is part of the Young Master program at Cynthia Corbett Gallery.
7 // Jan Hendzel exhibited a collection of furniture and vessels for Collect Open, using both digital techniques and traditional woodworking methods to explore "what lies beneath" the materials.
8 // Seeing a “domestic” table scaled to 2.5m long and 1.1m tall is slightly disconcerting. Table by metal-smith Juliette Bigley is an installation of 20 unique tabletop vessels including a wine bottle, a jug, and water glasses, crafted from a mixture of patinated copper, brass, nickel silver and silver. There is something so familiar and routine about it, yet utterly throws you off balance. Beautiful and discombobulating at the same time.
9 // The Cynthia Corbett Gallery showcased the work of the nominees and winners from the Young Masters Art Prize. Showing a variety of work from artists such as Matt Smith, Alissa Volshkova, Alice Couttoupes and Tessa Eastman. Drawing inspiration from the Old Masters either through technique, imagery or subject these artists are creating unique contemporary work.
10// As one of the finalists for the LOEWE Craft Prize, Irina Razumovskaya represented by Officine Saffi was on my must-see list at Collect. Inspired by tree bark, peeling paint and aging materials, this inspiration is very apparent in her Post-Surface series. The texture gives a sense of natural degradation and age, which is fascinating especially combined with a warm pink color. Irina fires her pieces 5-8 times until the layers peel to get the desired effect.
11 // Represented by Cavaliero Finn, Egyptian-born British ceramicist Ashraf Hanna signature muted palette pulled me in to take a closer look at his Petrified Forest installation. Then I spotted his voluminous Undulating Vessels that he is so well known for, and they were sitting on top of the Galvin Brothers Battalion Spook Wood... Wow!
So what do you think? Do any of these capture your imagination? Would you want to make a little space for them in your home?
These are future antiques after all. Sometimes I find at shows like this, it isn’t necessarily about coveting the piece directly but about being inspired by the shape, material or color and wanting to bring those elements into our homes. Hopefully see you again soon with my finds from an exhibition.