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.

Francesca Chalk tea towel
Francesca Chalk tea towel

I do love a beautiful tea towel and Francesca Chalk’s collection, all screen printed with her own drawings, is very beautiful indeed. She does a rather lovely line in cushions too – Nuthatch is probably my favourite but a sofa scattered with one of each design would be a joy to behold. (www.commonthreaddesign.co.uk)

Francesca Chalk Nuthatch cushion
Francesca Chalk Nuthatch cushion

Susan Early is a hugely talented basket maker All her work is hand woven from farmed willow and hedgerow materials which she collects from the countryside surrounding her Sheepscombe home. The technique and materials may be traditional but the baskets she creates have a totally contemporary sleekness.  (www.guildcrafts.org.uk)

Susan Early basket photography by Henry Arden
Susan Early basket
photography by Henry Arden

Paul Spriggs’ rush seated chairs, inspired by Arts and Crafts exponent Ernest Gimson, are another very beguiling mix of tradition and modernity. They are also made to last a lifetime which is something to celebrate. (www.paulspriggs.com)

Paul Spriggs chair
Paul Spriggs chair

I like to think of myself as a pared back modernist but as anyone who has seen my new book, Wallpaper a Collection of Modern Prints (available now from all good bookshops) will see, I am also a fan of exuberant pattern. Janine Roper’s densely decorated ceramic vessels have therefore gone straight to the top of my wish list. Her most recent work is screen printed with a mix of architectural drawings she made on a walk in Bath’s Sydney Gardens and plants and trees inspired by traditional willow pattern.  (www.janineroperceramics.com)

Janine Roper jugs
Janine Roper jugs

The Guild at 51, 51 Clarence Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3JT, 01242 245215 www.guildcrafts.org.uk 

Open Tuesdays – Saturdays 10am – 5pm

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