Christmas Cards for Craft Lovers

I am not a fan of e-Christmas cards but a couple  turned up in my in-box this morning which proved that, in the hands of a craftsperson, this impersonal electronic greeting can be a complete delight. The first is from the supremely talented stitch artist Rosalind Wyatt, the second is a magical film from the Crafts Council where animation meets pottery. Click the links and enjoy.

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Reclining in Milan

I have just returned from a press trip to Milan to celebrate the launch of what we were told was a revolutionary new chair. I am well used to PR hyperbole but I must confess that on this occasion, the product really did live up to the – quite considerable – razzmatazz.

Natuzzi’s Re-Vive is the world’s first performance reclining chair. Designed in collaboration with innovative New Zealand furniture design company Formway, Re-Vive combines their ergonomic know-how with the exquisite craftsmanship that you’d expect from this top end Italian furniture brand. The result is a sleek-looking chair upholstered in butter-soft, hand-stitched leather that moves as you do. I could have spent the entire evening curled up in the Queen-sized version, Prosecco in one hand, parmesan morsel in the other. Sadly, most of the other guests had the same idea.

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Mosaic Artist Cleo Mussi

Stroud and its surrounding areas are full of artists of all kinds. Here mosaic artist Cleo Mussi writes about her practice. Is your tank half full or half empty ? Mine is pretty full at the moment as I have just been awarded an Arts Council Grant to take my new project “All Consuming” to both Collect at The Saatchi Gallery, London in May and The Museum in The Park, Stroud in July 2014. Over the past two years I have been developing my next installation of mosaics. Leading on from “Pharma’s Market” this project explores genetics, economics and sustainable practices to create a new mosaic installation with accompanying notes . The resulting exhibition is a story; in the traditional sense of Folk Art, reflecting the world that we live in whilst connecting to bygone days. In this show we come across a mysterious mosaic world .

“All Consuming” is a comment and an observation on man’s evolution within our environment and our desire to consume and collect everything. From “Mitochondrial Eve” we go through a narrative of life size figures exploring energy consumption, agricultural practice, the fable of the bees, clean water, alternative energy and finally the savings bank for the Genome in the form of a modern day ark , our own perfect space ship- Earth.

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Yellow is the Colour

Jilly Edwards is one of our leading tapestry artists (and also a SIT patron) and last week I was lucky enough to spend a morning with her in her Exeter studio. The day was dank but inside the studio with its pretty sedum roof, Jilly was working on a piece that filled the space with sunshine.

This half-finished, vibrant yellow tapestry is part of a new body of work which she’s making for a solo exhibition entitled ‘Wanderlust’ which opens at the Harley Gallery in Welbeck on 22nd January.

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Leading Lights head to SIT Symposium

We are feeling rather pleased with ourselves here at SIT HQ. What began as an idea for a small seminar, has grown into a day-long Symposium attended by some of the most illustrious names in the worlds of contemporary craft and design.

We have Grant Gibson, Editor of Crafts Magazine discussing the question ‘Is the division between Craft and Design still relevant today?’ with the Chair of Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen Mary Greensted and leading designers Simon Pengelly and Nick Munro, followed by a seminar in which we ask a panel – which includes ceramicist Michael Eden and textile designer Harriet Wallace Jones – whether craft has to be handmade? All that, plus talks from a line up of innovative designers such as wallpaper artist Tracy Kendall, winner of the Elle Decoration British Design Award  for ‘Best British Pattern 2013’.

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Maker in Focus at The Guild at 51

As the doors open on Stroud International Textile’s inaugural Maker in Focus showcase at The Guild at 51, SIT’s resident blogger Charlotte Abrahams sits down with the very talented Joseph Hartley.

Who are you – designer-maker, ceramicist or potter?

Definitely a designer-maker. I avoid both ceramicist and potter as titles because making clay objects is not all I do: I also work with wood and textiles and I’m always trying to push my practice in other ways.

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Material Matters

I (Charlotte Abrahams – design journalist and SIT’s resident blogger) spent last Sunday afternoon immersed in the Museum in the Park’s latest exhibition Material Matters. This is a solo, selling show of work by Matthew Harris, an artist whose work explores the journey of drawn marks across cloth. The finished images are contemplative expressions of colour and texture but, for me, the real appeal of these pieces lies in their physicality. In Echo Cloth, for example, each fragment of cut and hand-stitched cloth is clearly visible, while the ink marks do not simply lie on the surface but within the very structure of the piece.

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The Guild at 51

A huge welcome to Cheltenham’s newest and most gorgeous gallery – The Guild at 51. Opened last week at 51 Clarence Street as part of the £6m redevelopment of the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, it offers lovers of contemporary applied arts the chance to browse, buy and commission work by members of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen. SIT has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the Gloucestershire Guild (which, incidentally, is the oldest Guild of Craftsmen in the country) and will be collaborating with them on various projects beginning next month with an exhibition of work by ceramicist Joseph Hartley. I will be posting more about the Maker in Focus programme and the very talented Mr Hartley in due course so watch this space. In the meantime, here are my highlights from the inaugural showcase.

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