Just attended the press view of Collect 2021, the International art fair for contemporary craft and design. This year because of the global pandemic, COLLECT the amazing event in the craft, maker, and the ceramic world is restricted online, with the benefit that people outside London and the UK can experience it.
So, me too for this year, I ‘visited’ the fair from home ra ther than by visiting the beautiful location at Somerset House, London. It was strange to start with, but like a new norm, I adjusted very quickly and noticed that regardless of the lack of interaction with other humans, during the week of this fair with amazing events, I never felt lonely, just gorgeously connected with it via videos, interviews, presentations, and talks.
Collect, working with its Advisory Panel, brings a stunning group of living artists and showcasing works spanning many craft disciplines, including ceramic and non-traditional materials like resin and bone, made in the past five years. Collect 2021 adds another layer of contemporary conversation around diversity and the importance of artistic response during this uncertain time.
Founded in 2004 by the Crafts Council (UK), Collect has established itself as the preeminent art fair for craft and has been instrumental in growing the collectable market in this sector, bringing together 32 international galleries, that are presenting over 400 artists from 35 nations. Now at its 17th edition Collect, the only gallery-presented art fair dedicated to contemporary craft and design is brought to us by the Craft Council together with the support of the Loewe Foundation, Artsy, Cox, Brookfield Properties, and the Art Council England.
Not easy to pick from a stunning selection of work and creations. Below is a collection/highlight of some British based ceramicist to share with you readers. An array of museum-quality works, a feast for the eyes.
Andrea has spent her career creating beautiful, enigmatic boxes from ceramic and glass. The selection of contained boxes, created in 2021, is just magic. Made in wax, bone china and cast glass, are offering the idea of something very precious, something where we would like to put something in a box, and then the pure action of holding the box in our hands is the real plus of her vessels. All made by hand from the mould to the form. Her work explores also the duality of the objects a bit like the Black / White relation. Some of her pieces are displayed at the V&A in London. Andrea received invaluable support from the Craft Council (UK) and Creative Scotland enabling her to continue the creative development of her practice that pushes the boundaries of her chosen materials – ceramics and glass.
“Contained Boxes are my most recent series of work. In each piece, the vessel is kiln cast in glass, forming an individual vitrine, which cradles a small ceramic box within”, commented the artist.
Andrea Walsh’s boxes and vessels are an exquisite exploration of material honed into the most personal and concentrated object. Her investigation of containment and material has resulted in items of precious simplicity, very covetable, and which add immeasurably to our appreciation of the highly crafted and the intimate. The idea of something contained, something that appears precious or of value…In holding something very special, it could be something very personal, it could be something much more abstract.
“My work is an exploration of the box and vessel form, through which I am interested in ideas of containment, materiality, preciousness and value. Working with glass in combination with fine bone china, I seek to celebrate their shared material qualities including purity and translucency and am influenced by their alchemic nature and rich historical associations”.
Andrea’s work is represented by Oxford Ceramics Gallery. The Oxford Ceramics Gallery has always been at the forefront of the British ceramics world with the work of emerging artists within the UK and further afield.
From the precious simplicity of Andrea’s boxes where are now moving to Annie Turner ‘ancient looking’ vessels. Her work gets inspired by her life in Suffolk and surrounding areas where she grew up. Her work at first looks ancient, rusted .. something that recalls a kind of ‘metal construction’. The river’s past and present, the cycles of nature and the interaction of man are at the heart of each encrusted sculptural form she creates. These are, as she puts it ‘objects that trigger the memory’, as much collective memory as personal recollection. A mix of sculpture and ceramic, Annie’s beautiful ceramic sculptures are hand -built in stoneware. Her Swans Nest Sluice, or the Needle Box and Herring Net, both created in 2021, are stoneware’s masterpieces. Still boxes still containing, just a different ‘container’ from Andrea Walsh work. Annie, a Loewe Craft Prize finalist, is at Collect 2021 with Cavaliero Finn Gallery.
Venezuelan-American ceramicist & sculptor based in London, Daniel is famous for his large scale hand-built vessels in stoneware, glazed in block colour using mostly dolomite studio glazes and recently his newest work has seen Daniel return to kinetic abstract mobile sculptures in porcelain, stoneware, steel, glass and even organic materials like gourds – all designed to be suspended from the ceiling with steel frameworks.
Daniel gets inspired by Victor Pasmore, one of Britain’s most influential abstract artists, together with Patrick Heron and William Scott. For his beautiful kinetic abstract mobile sculpture, we can see the work of Alexander Calder during the 1930s and 1940s, together with influences by organic design that are deep-rooted in his family background. Having spent the first nine years of his life in Venezuela, Daniel’s interest in the great mid-century architecture and his work reflects the geometric mid-century designs prevalent in the concrete Venezuelan architecture, and like Calder, the relationship between the components is crucial in achieving balance, harmony and beauty. Daniel Reynolds is represented by Cavaliero Finn and his work have gained in reputation and have been commissioned widely in luxury hotels, private residences and also in museums in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, also in Mexico and the UK.
Another gem of a name from Collect 2021 is Nico Conti. Through a rigorous yet playful approach to experiment, Nico has found new ways to express his ideas: to find a personal language in clay that uses both analogue and digital technologies, thinking through process and material, to create some very particular work, with unique qualities. Nico Conti projects are going from specific projects for the V&A & Wedgwood, to a series of vessels of ‘Lace and Porcelain’. 3D printing is often associated with mass manufacture, but the artist pieces are just a marriage of elegance and narrative.
No piece shows the rigidity of the 3d printing machine. Curves and shapes, silhouettes and sophisticated quality of porcelain bring his work into the realm of a mix of classical with a contemporary touch. Lace and filigree, texture that can be identified with textiles and fabric, is here a clear explosion of craft requiring exceptional skill and workmanship. Each piece is highly translucent and a pure sculpture form, creating a mesmerizing impact as light passes through the porcelain. Nico Conti is represented in the UK by Alveston Fine Arts.
More precious porcelain from Fenella Elms. Fenella Elms’ work is hand-built by connecting individual porcelain parts, developing an interaction through placing the pieces in formation. The shifting components form a fluid, co-operative body. The work is alive; responsive to light and angle of view. Beads or strips of porcelain joined in the vital rhythm of many parts in formation.
Fenella works from her studio in Wiltshire, in the English countryside. ‘Porcelain slip is my material’ – said the artist; ‘a pleasure to pour, spread and squeeze. All the components are cast before building, waiting for the right stage of softness for them to work together. My making processes have developed in response to porcelain’s contradictory qualities of fragility and permanence, strength and delicacy, sharpness with a wavering softness in the kiln, before firing to a solid translucency. All the work comes out of the drive to show off, challenge, question the material qualities of porcelain.” Fenella has won prizes in both ceramics and design and her work has been presented in ceramic art books, as well as interiors and architecture magazines. She has undertaken numerous international public and private commissions and work has been purchased for exhibition in museums and privately-held collections. Fenella Elms is at Collect 2021 with J. Lohmann Gallery, New York.
More porcelain for Anne Butler with her geometrical pattern on soft forms. Some of Anne’s work is recalling more boxes, containers like some other of the artist explored in this article.
‘Contain’ is a series of geometric cubes taking inspiration from architecture and a geometrical approach also visible with her three pieces ‘Still’, ‘Inflect’ and ‘Ponder’, blue and white hand built porcelain with a porcelain base. In Anne work, there is much reminiscent of Archaeology, Geology and Architecture in the work. Material culture, shaped the cultural meaning and abstract ideas are explored in the contrast between the permeance of the cube and the fallibility of a partially obscure internal labyrinth of light and shadow a wide palette of techniques are used to construct, layer, deconstruct and fragment to reveal relationships between process, time and material. Anne work uses porcelain and cyanotype print. Anne works is represented by the Gallery Ruup & Form.
“Collect has introduced and represented the very best UK and international galleries for contemporary craft to design buyers and collectors for 17 years. Creating opportunity in the disruption of this past year has been so important, ensuring we maintain visibility for this global moment for craft in the 2021 cultural calendar. This online version of the Collect art fair will provide rich content as well as helping collectors to discover, view and purchase exceptional work from highly talented international artists. Working with Artsy.net adds a whole additional level of new audience engagement, further elevating contemporary collectable craft via Collect on this global art platform.” Commented Isobel Dennis, Collect Fair Director.
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