COLLECT 2015, Saatchi Gallery
The Crafts Council’s COLLECT has been running for 12 years and acts as a wonderful showcase for contemporary craft. This is very much making at the fine art end of the craft spectrum where function often plays a subsidiary role to aesthetics. As well as containing some of the best galleries from around the world, this year the exhibition also has installations from the likes of designer Tord Boontje and textile artist Ann Sutton; there’s a dance piece from Caroline Broadhead and Angela Woodhouse; while the Crafts Council will be giving visitors a sneaky peak at its next major touring exhibition devoted to contemporary jewellery, I AM HERE. Oh and if you happen to be visiting on Saturday do feel free to come along to a talk I’m chairing at 2.45pm for London Craft Week on why we collect stuff. The panel includes leading gallery owner Adrian Sassoon, collector-curator Sarah Griffin and collector-designer Beverley Rider, so it should be well worth your while.
There are a lot of installations and shows devoted to the luxury, branded end of making at this year’s festival, and quite possibly for that reason I find myself drawn to an event that arguably represents street craft. In his famous essay of 1929, Ornament and Crime, Adolf Loos decreed that: ‘The modern person who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons in which eighty percent of the inmates have tattoos. People with tattoos not in prison are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats.’ How things change. The architect couldn’t possibly have foreseen a time when getting tattooed would become a rite of passage for students travelling the world on their gap year, nor could he have predicted the rise of the footballer-cum-global-brand David Beckham. And lord knows what he would have made of the rose painted on Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s backside. Not only has tattooing become socially acceptable, it is a recognised craft. And Mo Coppoletta, who will be opening up his studio, is one of its best exponents in the world.
The Crafted City
Contemporary Applied Arts temporary pavilion in Southwark promises to be one of the highlights of the week. Designed by architect Allies and Morrison, which among other things was responsible for the excellent revamp of the Royal Festival Hall in 2007, it promises to showcase work from the likes of glass makers Michael Ruh and Kate Maestri, ceramist Dylan Bowen and furniture maker Alex MacDonald to name just a few. The idea is that it will become a place for visitors to meet, discuss, and explore craft. There will be talks too from silversmith Adi Toch and furniture designer Angus Ross. It promises to be fascinating.
Clerkenwell has long been a hotbed of radicalism and making. It’s where, for example, Lenin edited the underground revolutionary journal, Iskra, while by the end of the eighteenth century the area is estimated to have been producing 120,000 watches each year. Crafts Central is still located there of course and Cockpit Arts is around the corner (both will be having open studios during LCW incidentally), but there’s little doubt that Clerkenwell is changing. The famous cutting edge jewellery gallery Lesley Craze has recently shut up shop and the contemporary craft gallery Marsden Woo has moved to Shoreditch, while the area is increasingly dominated by office furniture showrooms. Perhaps this is why I felt a twinge of nostalgia when I saw that Wyvern Bindery was holding a demonstration that will allow visitors the chance to understand its process. It seems to me a place that is still intimately connected with the heritage of the area during a time of flux.
Editor of Crafts Magazine