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Every year Collect gathers the most exciting and experimental names in modern craft and design, and it always proves to be one of our design calendar highlights. This year the fair made its debut at Somerset House, so we were extra delighted to view the works against the building’s 18th century grandeur. From seeing the works of emerging international makers to touching base with some of our long-established favourites, here’s a round-up of what we saw and loved.
Intro about the Fair
Collect kicks off the international culture calendar as the only gallery-presented art fair dedicated to modern craft and design. It’s organised by the Craft Council, a non-profit organisation that works to advance craft in the UK by supporting makers from all kinds of backgrounds and areas of expertise.
For its 16th year more than 45 galleries from across 25 nations each took over a room, or a space within a room, for its first year at the beautiful Somerset House. We found it a sight to behold: around 400 artists displayed their works in ceramics, glass, metal, wood, textiles, and non-traditional materials using experimental techniques. Everything on show was created in the last five years, so it really was a chance to browse the pinnacle of emerging craft.
Why AUTHOR went to visit
If you know us, you’ll know we have a relentless appreciation for modern and collectible design. So while we pored over every piece on display, we paid special attention to the works that merged well-considered materials, fine craftsmanship and free-flowing, spirited creativity.
To us, those three elements are the key to timeless collectible craft, and they were in plentiful supply at Collect 2020. The fair also gave us the chance to browse the works of luxury British makers who are stealing the spotlight with their sophisticated, sustainably-minded designs.
1. Vicky Lindo and Bill Brookes, Alveston Fine Art
We couldn’t possibly have missed the works of Vicky Lindo, winner of the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial whose works are on show in the V&A. Lindo and her collaborator Bill Brookes create earthenware ceramics in sgraffito – a traditional technique of carving through a thin, coloured surface to reveal a contrasting colour beneath – from The Pigeon Club, their studio in North Devon. Their creations are inspired by the slipware pottery produced in the area between the 18th and 20th centuries. We particularly love how the vessels overlay eclectic patterns and colours to tell of a deeper regional history.
2. Laura Slater and Mawuena Kattah, Intoart
We were already familiar with the works of textile artist Laura Slater as she created exquisite limited edition womenswear collection for John Lewis and a home textile collection for IKEA. We have long associated her works with vibrant pops of colour, free-hand brushstrokes, and imaginative patterns.
Stepping into her collaborative space with visual artist Mawuena Kattah, though, was a whole new experience. It was by far one of the most vibrant rooms of the fair, and in it we were struck by the imaginative iconography of the pair’s floor-to-ceiling hand-screen printed textiles.
The exhibition was titled ‘Eye-Eye’ and the prints are the result of a shared approach to their respective practises, as well as a shared narrative of family and personal imagery. This is functional textile transformed into visual art and viewed through the lens of the artist-designer relationship. We couldn’t resist.
3. Angus Ross, Craft Scotland
Over in the Craft Scotland exhibition space we were drawn to Angus Ross’ exquisitely crafted oak furniture. His pieces are the epitome of fine British craftsmanship and he upholds an ethos similar to that of AUTHOR.
Angus Ross is part of a collective who own and manage a beautiful bluebell wood where he sources the sustainable oak used in each piece. It’s also clear that he treats the material with the utmost respect. He uses the ancient art of steam-bending with contemporary technology and traditional woodwork technique – and the result is less furniture, more art. These pieces will without a doubt become heirlooms to be passed down through generations. In fact, we have had the pleasure of styling Angus’ gorgeous Quercus Pod lighting vessel (pictured below behind the exquisite Sutherland Drinks Cabinet) in client homes before.
4. Laura Ellen Bacon, Jaggedart
Organic forms and thoughtful use of sustainable materials came to the forefront in Laura Ellen Bacon’s works, specifically this piece crafted from willow. It’s always refreshing to see artists exhibiting a deep understanding of the natural world, and preserving the materials in their rawest forms.
The soft, sweeping folds kind of make you want to nestle down and hibernate, which is exactly the effect Slater intended. Her pieces are shown in some of Britain’s finest country homes, including Chatsworth House and Sudeley Castle.
5. Yun Ju-Cheol, Lloyd Choi Gallery
South Korean ceramics have long been overlooked by international audiences, so we were pleased to see a diverse selection of South Korean artists on show at Collect 2020. The Lloyd Choi Gallery space stood out to us as it selected key artists to reflect the spirit of Do-jo, who reached prominence in the 1980s for merging the fields of ceramics and fine art. Yun Ju-Cheol was one of the six, and he created the tactile Cheomjang moon jar (pictured) by fusing tactile ceramic glazed surface with ancient technique.
6. Derek Wilson, Flow Gallery
Derek Wilson’s vessels and wall pieces are all about clean lines and pared-back palettes, a soothing aesthetic that we can really appreciate. In among the bold colours and out-there pieces at a fair like Collect, simpler (yet no less exquisite) works like Wilson’s always get our attention. In his search for simplicity, Wilson starts with the humble potters wheel and, while his works do blur the line between form and function, he ultimately creates ceramics that can be used in everyday life.
Still looking for tips to help style your home? The AUTHOR team is here to advise on any aspects of design and furnishing. If you would like any further advice or interior design tips on how to make the most of your interior space, please do get in touch.
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