One school night last week I blissed out at ‘Craft London: the exhibition of emerging new talent’ in Clerkenwell. I headed over to the cosy gallery space of Craft Central for wine and chat with some of London’s most talented makers. Having been challenged to rediscover their city and represent this visually, the exhibition was as varied as the capital’s 32 boroughs, and reflective of the city’s incredible cultural diversity.
French-born illustrator Julie Vermeille translated her love of fairytales into 3D characters living in her installation, creating a fantasy world of fabric pigeons, lace clouds and stringy stuffed people based on children’s book Arthur’s Seat. Quirky and cute.
Ruth Babajide celebrated her West African heritage with a range of loud, colourful ceramic storage units, in stark contrast to the delicate and peaceful collection of hand thrown porcelain whispers created by Hannah James (below).
Jessica Light is a woman on a mission to revitalise the dying craft of tassel-making. Jessica was responsible for the ornate embroidery on Buckingham Palace’s balcony hangings, and now works with designers such as Vivienne Westwood to find a new life for a centuries-old skill.
But my favourite of all was the set of magical cobwebs created by Katie Barton. ‘Spun’ from metallic embroidery thread and fixed into jewellery cases, they took two days to install and will be destroyed after the exhibition. Katie, who describes herself as having an obsession with making repulsive things beautiful, said she loved the ethereal nature of piece. I felt simultaneously privileged to have seen these gorgeous creations, and sad to know that they will soon be swished away to nothing, as if they were never there.
We entered into the age-old ‘what is art, what is craft?’ debate, swiftly followed by a lively discussion on the pros and cons of being university trained vs being a self-taught artist.
These are topics I shall return to, as I ponder them often. What are your thoughts?
The exhibition also featured fabric craft, ceramics and jewellery from Anna Johnson, Laura Felicity, Jo Davies, Ana Meneses, Daniele Geargeoura, Yuki Sasakura Assiter and Alexandra Simpson.