Celebrated throughout the world as a centre of creativity and innovation, London has a long and rich heritage of craft and designer-making, which do not always get the attention they deserve. London Craft Week will throw the spotlight on this vibrant and growing sector and the highly skilled craftspeople at work in our city today.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
The inaugural London Craft week features an impressive line-up of demonstrations at major department stores including Fortnum & Mason, Fenwick, and Selfridges, as well as key London hubs of style and creativity SOANE Britain, Mulberry, and Asprey. Prestigious institutions will take part, such as the Wellcome Trust (with Heatherwick Studio), the British Library, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, who with the Crafts Council will present their partnership exhibition ‘What is Luxury?’, and will also host the Heritage Crafts Association’s ‘A Place for Craft’ conference. The Crafts Council will also present COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects, held at the Saatchi Gallery.
All this is alongside leading galleries and contemporary retailers such as Contemporary Applied Arts and The New Craftsmen, where cutting-edge makers will be showcased in exhibitions specially curated for London Craft Week, while spaces at Craft Central and Cockpit Arts offer open studios and the chance to meet the makers. Unusual crafts will also be explored, including a ‘Craftsmanship of Food’ tour of Bloomsbury led by Fox & Squirrel, the chance to see the studio of famous tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta, and the Royal Society of Arts Fab Lab where visitors will look at digital technologies and craft.
Founding Partner Vacheron Constantin has always invested in the perpetuation of manual skills and recognised the utmost importance of transmitting know-how; in fact basing its foundation in 1755 on the day Jean-Marc Vacheron signed a contract with his first apprentice. Pursuing its longstanding ties with the world of art and culture, Vacheron Constantin is committed to fostering fine artistic crafts that play such a key role in contemporary creativity, while highlighting the excellence achieved by combining these talents with those of design. During London Craft Week, Vacheron Constantin’s London Boutique will have live demonstrations of watchmaking and hand-engraving. Offering a rare chance to see one of the Maison’s in-house artisans at work, visitors will also be welcome to have a go themselves.
Mayfair, home to some of the world’s most renowned luxury brands that are celebrated for craftsmanship and quality will provide many of the programme’s initiatives this year. The New Craftsmen will be showcasing ‘Made of Mayfair’ – a project for which seven makers have delved into the history of the area to produce a new body of work. This will include fine weaving from Catarina Riccabona, whose work was inspired by the renowned carver Grinling Gibbons. Catarina will take up residence with her loom at his magnificent carved wood altarpiece which sits in St James’s Church Piccadilly. Drawing inspiration from a very difference slice of Mayfair’s history will be historic paint specialist Pedro Da Costa Felgueiras and stitcher and calligrapher Rosalind Wyatt who are joining forces to develop work that explores and celebrates the extraordinary life of one of Mayfair’s best known courtesans.
Crafted at Fortnum & Mason will feature Walpole’s Crafted alumni and its class of 2014 through demonstrations and talks by glass artist Michael Ruh, conceptual milliner Emma Yeo, ceramicist Billy Lloyd and leather saddler Mia Sabel amongst others. Bond Street stalwarts ETRO will run demonstrations by Serge Maury, renowned for his intricate hand-painted paisley designs and DAKS will accommodate a small power loom from the London Cloth Company in their Central London store to give demonstrations of scarf weaving. A cutter and coat maker at Kathryn Sargent Bespoke Tailoring will ‘deconstruct the suit’ by demonstrating pattern crafting and master craftsmen James Ducker and Deborah Carré will set up shop in the window of Gieves & Hawkes, Vigo Street to demonstrate some of the 200+ rigorous steps that go into hand-sewn shoes. To top it off, visitors should go to Lock & Co to see behind the scenes of the world’s oldest hat shop and learn the secrets of designer Sylvia Fletcher’s acclaimed couture headwear.
Staying with couture and fashion the London College of Fashion will open its doors to unveil the secret tools of the trade in footwear and accessories innovation through a series of hands-on workshops. The workshop is held in association with the Maker Library Network, a collection of new creative spaces that enable makers to share resources. Those who wish to learn more about art and craft they can literally wear on their skin, should head to tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta’s parlour in Exmouth Market. Visitors will be treated to an insight into the work of the artists at The Family Business and one of London’s most prestigious tattoo parlours that is celebrated worldwide.
Those after something more olfactory pleasing can ‘Make Perfume’ with Ormonde Jayne fragrances by blending and creating their own perfume or cologne with company founder Linda Pilkington. Candle maker Rachel Vosper will teach the history of chandlery and give visitors the opportunity to create their own scented candle.
Other highlights of the programme include glass blowing demonstrations by innovative and influential makers on the British glass scene at London Glass Blowing. At The Wellcome Trust there will be tours of the Collection and talks by glass artists Max Lamb and John Lewis as well as the Heatherwick architectural studio to discuss their spectacular Bleigiessen sculpture collaboration that fills a 30 metre high vertical space and comprises 150,000 specially processed glass spheres suspended on almost one million metres of fine stainless steel wire. The sculpture glows with a kaleidoscope of colours. Another collaboration born out of London Craft Week is Dovecot Studios (winner of Walpole British Luxury Award to Luxury Craftsmanship in 2014) at the British Library. Apprentice weaver Ben Hymers and master weaver and studio manager Naomi Robertson will demonstrate weaving techniques positioned beneath the vast Kitaj tapestry Dovecot produced for the library in the mid-1990s.
Cockpit Arts will host an Open Studio to showcase some of the 170 designer-makers that are part of this award-winning social enterprise and a specially created pop-up pavilion of making, The Crafted City will be erected to commemorate the inaugural London Craft Week. Based at Contemporary Applied Arts in Bankside, once renowned as home to any craft or industry that was ‘smelly, dirty or dangerous’ from hot glass and leather tanning to hat making, the pavilion is created by 13 makers and will build upon this tradition with a contemporary installation. Funded by the Arts Council England, The Crafted City will act as a flexible and practical space to demonstrate the breadth of craft with dedicated workshops, debates and salons. It will feature glass panels by celebrated architectural glass artist Kate Maestri and be covered in blue and white tin-glazed ceramic tiles that describe the London Thames through giant cobalt eels and other creatures by Daphne Carnegy.
For established and burgeoning collectors of craft, COLLECT presented by the Crafts Council is a must. For four days the leading international fair that specialises in contemporary objects brings together collectible craft from galleries across the world to London. An unrivalled display of museum quality pieces from jewellery and ceramics to textiles and metal work will be offered for sale by selected established artists juxtaposed with the craft world’s next generation of talent.
The majority of events are free of charge and on a first come first served basis. Some events need prior booking, and charge a small booking fee. Please visit each event page for further details