My favourite contemporary craft finds from Collect, the International Art Fair For Contemporary Objects.
If you’ve never been to a contemporary craft Fair, you’d probably be surprised by what you might find. Today was the opening day of Collect, the International Art Fair For Contemporary Objects. Filling the entire Saatchi Gallery, the Crafts Council gathered 40 of the most prestigious galleries together to show more than 400 artists, from 13 countries around the world. Collect is the highest quality of craft. In fact, contemporary craft today is a highly evolved art form that responds to the desire to own something unique, crafted by hand and quite possibly bespoke. This wasn’t the first time I’d been to Collect, but I still didn’t know what I was going to see. Every year is remarkably different, I’ve only been a couple of times before, and they were very different indeed. If you still think craft is unfashionable, think again.
I started my journey at the top of the building at Collect Open. This year, designer Jay Osgerby and the Crafts Council team selected 14 makers from across the craft spectrum, including ceramics, metalsmithing, embroidery, jewellery design and weaving for the Collect Open exhibition. Introduced in 2011, Collect Open has some of the biggest and boldest installations. While the main body of the fair presents a gallery-by-gallery showcase, Collect Open highlights individual makers providing them with a platform to present new works on a much larger scale. Here I found a celebration of the handmade.
The first thing that caught my attention was ceramicist Mella Shaw‘s site-specific installation showing her environmental message about plastic pollution in the oceans. Called Harvest and made from smoke fired ceramics it highlighted how if plastic pollution isn’t tackled that by 2050 that there will be a greater weight of plastics in our oceans than fish. An absolute highlight of the Collect Open.
Jan Hendzel‘s installation of furniture and objects combine digital making methods with traditional woodworking techniques. Working predominately in Olive Ash wood his pieces called out to be touched, and as an Interior Designer I loved the lustrous natural oiled finish and could see them working in so many spaces.
One of my favourite galleries is Sarah Myerscough who had a visually arresting space made up of almost entirely wood-based craft. One of my favourites being Eleanor Lakelin who I spent quite a while talking to as her pieces are so intrinsically dictated by nature. I also found myself coveting Marc Ricourts wood vases with ferrous oxide finishes. Other galleries that had pieces I particularly liked included Jaggedart, London Glassblowing Gallery (especially the pieces by Tim Rawlinson), Collection Ateliers D’art de France, Cynthia Corbett Gallery and Galleri Format.
New to Collect this year are the galleries Mint, 50 Golborne and Cavaliero Finn all showing some remarkable pieces. I was quite taken with a cabinet at Mint, perfect for your curiosities, in lacquered metal and a beautiful freestanding mirror made of amber coloured onyx. 50 Golborne wowed me with the South African based collective Ubuhule‘s beadwork and ceramic artworks by Astrid Dahl. Over at Cavaliero Finn I was mesmerised by the tall Petrified Forest of 21 ceramic pieces by Ashraf Hanna and the works of the Galvin Brothers. Contemporary craft is inspiring by the sheer variety available today, although obviously, I seem to be particularly drawn to woodwork or really colourful pieces. I didn’t spend much time in the jewellery section as its “not my thing,” but there was quite a crowd pouring over the intricate displays. Without a doubt, craft appears to be extremely collectable by the number of sold stickers I spotted. If you don’t yet have plans this weekend, I highly recommend you visit Collect which is on until February 25th at the Saatchi Gallery London, for more information visit here.