Woodchester-based fabric and wallpaper company Lewis & Wood (www.lewisandwood.co.uk) have a history of artist collaborations but their latest collection, English Ethnic, takes the idea to new level. I was lucky enough to spend yesterday afternoon with Co-Founder Stephen Lewis, Creative Director Magdalen Jebb and the three artists – Tetbury-based Su Daybell, (www.twigoftetbury.co.uk) Flora Roberts (www.wallflowerpainting.com)and Melissa White (www.melissawhite.co.uk) – at Lewis & Wood’s London showroom discussing the journey from initial idea to final, glorious products. It was a pretty organic one as it turns out – the artists were given free reign since the whole idea was to create something surprising. That the final six designs these very different artists came up with read as a coherent collection is testament to Magdalen’s unfailing eye. She says it is triangle of head, heart and gut and she is right: Melissa’s scholarly, Elizabethan-inspired Bacchus and Rococco designs are the head, Flora’s lyrical Doves and Sika the heart and Su’s exuberant Force 9 and Womad come from – and speak to – the gut. The collection will be in the Woodchester showroom any day now. Viewing is recommended and can be done during the Select Trail on the weekends of 10th/11th and 17th/18th May. www.sitselect.org/sitselecttrail.html
Cross the road from Halliday’s Mill and you arrive at Victoria Works Studios, previously long-time home to Chalford Chairs. This is a work in progress – there will be painters, an upholsterer, three potters, an illustrator, a couple of art therapists plus a baker (Kim’s Kitchen), and a course room for in-house and external workshops hireable by the hour or day – but the following artisans have already arrived and will be opening their studios during the Select Trail. www.sitselect.org/sitselecttrail
Part 1 by our guest blogger, Ceramicist Anna Simson
Chalford has always been home to a wealth of artistic talent and has grown even more recently with the development of artist and artisan studios in Halliday’s Mill and now Victoria Works Studios (the old Chalford Chairs factory), which is being redeveloped as I write and will be the subject of its very own post later this month.
Exhibitions at Gallery Libby Sellers (www.libbysellers.com) are always worth visiting but the next one is a must see for anyone interested in textiles and contemporary design.
Anton Alvarez – Wrapper’s Delight is a celebration of the emerging design artist Anton Alvarez, a young man whose work focuses on the design of systems and the creation of tools and processes for producing products. Tools such as the Thread Wrapping Machine which enables Alvarez to bind together different materials (wood, plastic and metal) with nothing more than thousands of meters of glue-coated thread.
Calling all makers – applications are now invited for the marvellous Walpole British Luxury Crafted programme http://www.thewalpole.co.uk/Crafted-2014-Applications-Open
Established in 2007 by Programme Chairman Guy Salter and Walpole British Luxury with support from Arts and Business, the aim of the programme is to help up to 10 highly skilled contemporary and traditional designer makers to develop the commercial side of their business though a year-long programme of workshops and one-to-one mentoring from expert luxury leaders such as Guy Salter, Mark Henderson of Gieves and Hawkes and The New Craftsmen, Robert Ettinger of Ettinger and the Rug Company’s Christopher Sharp.
I’ve just received a press release announcing the line up for this year’s Collect and thought I should share it with SIT’s followers forthwith so that you can all start saving both dates and funds. Collect, now in its 10th year, is a selling exhibition of premium quality contemporary craft organised by the Crafts Council (www.craftscouncil.org.uk) and this year sees a line up of 36 internationally-acclaimed galleries showing exquisite work from across all craft disciplines. My personal highlights are Garniture of Nine Vases, 2013 by Andrew Wicks who is represented by Adrian Sassoon and Liz Blavarpz’s Purple Necklace, 2013. (Galerie Format)
I spent Tuesday afternoon in east London talking to Charlotte Hodes, an artist whose practice takes the form of painting, collage, ceramics and glass. (www.charlottehodes.com) I was there to see her latest body of work, a set of 37 intricate papercuts and a series of limited edition ceramic plates, all made in response to Owen Jones seminal 1856 treatise on decoration ‘The Grammar of Ornament.’
Makers know all about the beauty of unfinished objects but it’s rare that this is half-made state is celebrated outside the privacy of the studio. ‘In the Making’, an exhibition curated by British design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby (creators of the 2012 Olympic torch) sets to change that by putting more than 20 unfinished objects centre stage at the Design Museum. ‘Often the object is as beautiful, if not more so, than the finished product,’ they explain. ‘We want to demystify how these objects are made and encourage interest and intrigue into the different manufacturing techniques and how they can inspire future design ideas.’
SIT’s Maker in Focus programme continues at the Guild at 51 with a showcase of work by mixed media sculptor Mary Butcher MBE, one of the foremost willow specialists in the country. (www.marybutcher.net) Here she reveals why she makes, why basket making matters and the endless appeal of willow.
Why do you make?
I spent yesterday afternoon at Somerset House’s glorious celebration of fashion’s most celebrated patron Isabella Blow. Consisting of over 100 exquisitely-made pieces from her personal collection – one of the most important collections of late 20th/early 21st Century British design – as well as photographs and memorabilia, this exhibition is testament to Blow’s extraordinary creativity and unfailing eye for talent.