The May Edit

As summer approaches, we’re keen to embrace adventure and discovery. While we try to fathom out the UK’s travel traffic light system, we thought we’d share some ideas closer to home, from day trips to beautiful locations, creativity and craftsmanship and unmissable exhibitions. Plus, we catch up with some of the makers taking part in LCW 2021 who share what they’ve been working on in preparation for this year’s festival.

Escape the City

Image: Prospect Cottage by Ron Strutt 

Kent 

The ‘Garden of England’ has a wealth of cultural and historical attractions as well as rural beauty. Head to the coast to see Derek Jarman’s enigmatic Prospect Cottage, which sits on a shingle desert headland overlooked by the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station. The site was saved for the nation in March 2020 following a £3.5m crowdfunding campaign led by the Art Fund that will open up the cottage to visitors for the first time. Until then, enjoy the renowned wild garden and take in the views along this unique part of England’s coastline.

From Dungeness, it’s a short drive to the Chapel Down Winery in Tenterden which is open for self guided tours. Book in for lunch at The Swan, Chapel Down’s Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant specialising in modern British cuisine and locally sourced seasonal produce. There is an extensive wine list, but for something a little different we suggest trying Chapel Down’s award-winning Bacchus Gin.

If you’ve got time for a longer trip, the Turner Contemporary in Margate has recently unveiled a new sculpture by Michael Rakowitz titled ‘April is the cruellest month’ as the inaugural commission for England’s Creative Coast, a landmark project that is connecting the landscape and arts organisations along the South East coast. Spanning 1,400km of shoreline from the South Downs to the Thames Estuary, the seven newly-commissioned artworks will be revealed throughout the month of May.

From June 5, we suggest timing your trip to Margate with a visit to Carl Freedman Gallery to see BREAKFAST UNDER THE TREE. Curated by the actor Russell Tovey, who was a guest curator for LCW’s 300 Objects exhibition last year, the show brings together a diverse range of depictions of contemporary social scenes, group portraits and shared spaces to form a pictorial survey of how we live now.

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Image: Charleston by Tony Tree

East Sussex

Charleston and its former inhabitants continue to provide a rich source of inspiration for fashion and interior design, from Kim Jones’ debut couture collection for Fendi to the creations of Luke Edward Hall and Ben Pentreath. Influenced by the house and its beautiful gardens, join Molly Mahon and Kit Kemp for a block printing workshop and breakfast discussion exploring the allure of Charleston as part of this year’s London Craft Week. In the meantime, the house is now open with an exhibition of works by the visionary Welsh artist Nina Hamnett.

In Hastings, Turner Prize nominees Project Art Works have taken over the Foreshore Gallery at Hastings Contemporary for a collaborative residency exploring how we can recover and connect after a year of isolation. While we wait for the gallery to reopen from 27 May, a programme of public events, film screenings and installations are visible through the gallery windows and online.

While in the area, we recommend a visit to Tillingham, one of a new generation of wineries spearheading an experimental approach to farming and winemaking. The estate, which dates from the 13th century, has a recently renovated farmstead and restaurant where you can enjoy the produce of the farm and the local area.

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Cultural Highlights 

Image: Michaela Efford/ The Design Museum

The Design Museum
Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street

We’re looking forward to revisiting some of our favourite museums this month, which are opening with a diverse range of exhibitions. The Design Museum’s much-anticipated Sneakers Unboxed exhibition unveils how this footwear phenomenon has challenged performance design, inspired subcultures and altered the world of fashion. It promises to be an enlightening journey through the design and creative processes behind some of the most technically inventive shoes of today.

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Image: Kosuke Tamura 

Japan House
Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko

Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko is renowned for pushing the boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing during her 30 year career at leading textile design firm Nuno. This fascinating exhibition showcases large-scale installations that highlight Sudō’s technical processes, and examines themes of sustainability, tradition and craftsmanship within her work.

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Image: Tile panel, Diaa El-Din Daoud, 2018, Fustat, Egypt. V&A

V&A
Contemporary Ceramic Art from the Middle East

Bringing together for the first time contemporary artists from the Middle East and North Africa who work primarily in clay, this landmark display explores how tradition, identity and politics have shaped the richness and inventiveness of current ceramic practice across the region. Look out for a demonstration and Q&A with Ashraf Hanna, whose new work Shararah forms part of the display, during London Craft Week.

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Image: ‘Chiral’ Kevin Grey, LOEWE Foundation

LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize

Celebrating excellence and innovation in modern craftsmanship, the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize recognizes the artisans whose talent, vision and innovation promise to set a new standard for the future. After being postponed in 2020, the fourth edition of the Craft Prize has announced the 30 finalists that will show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris this Spring, with the virtual exhibition now live. From textile to ceramics, metal to paper, the objects embody a commitment to creativity and experimentation.

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LCW Preview: The Year the World Changed

This month we profile some of the exceptional makers and brands participating in London Craft Week 2021, highlighting special collaborations and new ways of working that have developed over the course of an extraordinary year.

Image: Winch Design

Under Winch’s Wing

Winch Design established Under Winch’s Wing last year as a response to the realisation that some of the smallest studios and independent craftspeople with whom they work were struggling as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative offers advice and support to the makers and suppliers whose irreplaceable skills have brought the Winch Design portfolio to life over the past 35 years. In recognition of this contribution, Winch Design will present a one-day showcase of elite craftsmanship with the artisans from Under Winch’s Wing during LCW 2021.

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Image: Lucille Lewin

Lucille Lewin and Nicole Farhi

When friends and full-time sculptors Lucille Lewin and Nicole Farhi met up between lockdowns with independent curator Selina Skipwith, they realised that they were most missing the company of their female friends and going to exhibitions. The meeting was the genesis of a new exhibition taking place during LCW, In Good Company, that will showcase work produced by Lewin and Farhi during the lockdowns, which both artists found incredibly productive, alongside select earlier pieces.

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Image: Tiny Pricks

Tiny Pricks

Tiny Pricks is a public art project established by Diana Weymar that has been creating a material record of experiences and stories from the pandemic and Trump era. To date, the project has over 5,000 embroidered pieces which will be on show during LCW, with quotes from everyone from Trump to Dolly Parton, Greta Thunberg to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As the project moves into the post-Trump era, it is focusing on optimistic messaging around the election of Kamala Harris, increased engagement in the climate crisis, and drawing inspiration from challenges to equality, social justice and gender rights.

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Image: Sne Tak

RCA Textiles MA Graduates

2020 was a challenging year for many arts graduates, with end of year shows moved online or cancelled completely. For London Craft Week, a group of talented makers from the RCA’s Textiles MA programme will exhibit their work physically in London for the first time. Highlighting a diversity of approach to the craft of textile making – its construction, preservation and interactivity – the exhibition will shine a spotlight on the skills and processes of a new generation of textile artists and designers.

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Featured image: Molly Mahon

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