Christmas at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery has always been an exciting celebration of the very best of UK contemporary craft and this year’s offering is no exception. Handcrafted ceramics, textiles, 3D printed collections and works in mixed media by some of the most inspiring makers on the craft scene will be showcased to tempt visitors over the festive season. The team at the gallery passionately believes that handmade items allow people to take something home that brings them joy. With Christmas around the corner it's an opportunity to extend that joy to others with a unique and handcrafted gift to leave under the tree for a loved one.
The Winter Show
6th November 2021 - 29th January 2022
Image: Russell Wilson
Elaine has an MA in Ceramics from UCA Farnham and is an alumni of the Crafts Council Hothouse talent development programme. A ceramic artist working with clay and mixed media, Elaine believes that objects can tell stories. Creating works and compositions guided by a sense of narrative and steeped in the context of the local surroundings, her collections include sculptural work, hand-built wall pieces and thrown vessels, made in porcelain, stoneware and mixed-media. Elaine’s wall pieces combine found materials along with hand built ceramic objects which aim to blur the boundaries between the made and the found. These works are complemented by a range of vessels, thrown on the wheel, in porcelain and stoneware with mixed media additions. “Every piece I make is different and my ideas are constantly evolving. I value individuality and integrity in my work, putting care and a sense of personality into each one.”
Sarah Jane Brown
Sarah hand crafts her unique collection of beautiful miniature sculptures from rusty baked bean cans and wood off-cuts as well as found pieces of wood, metals and newspaper. Her delicate small sculptures start with a driftwood base and onto this she adds small scenes inspired by nature, animals, gardens and allotments which capture the imagination. Each piece of driftwood is selected for its particular shape and feel and the unpredictability of her material means that each piece is unique but clearly recognisable as her work.
Keeley explores digital craft through 3D printing in eco PLA which is a biodegradable material made from 100% renewable and natural resources. The new ‘hello beautiful’ collection launched through her online shop in March 2021 expressing her love of form, textural surfaces, and colour. “I am excited by the endless possibilities this design technology offers and am enjoying the exploration of the many exciting materials available. Each piece is unique and due to the nature of the process often unpredictable.” With the environment in mind, all 3D printed materials are commercially compostable and all packaging is recyclable. Keeley is a senior lecturer on the Staffordshire University 3D Designer Maker BA (Hons) course. The course is a mixed material course and so she has the opportunity to work with students not only with their ceramic designs and making processes but also with many other materials and objects such as furniture and jewellery. “Working alongside the amazing course leader Timothy Forrester and other design and industry experts, I thoroughly enjoy sharing my knowledge, skills, and over 25 years of experience with the next generation of creatives.”
Kate graduated from De Montfort University, Leicester with a BA (Hons) in Design Crafts. A potter based on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, she has gently rolling farmland and the most magnificent skies to inspire her. Her collection of ceramics are wheel-thrown and decorated with coloured slips in a variety of abstract designs. “My Dad is, and my grandfather was, a very keen vegetable grower, and during my degree I took inspiration for my surface designs from their treasured gardening tools. I still love mark-making, but now my patterns evolve in a more intuitive way, by layering colour onto the clay’s surface, in a constant exploration of lines and circles.” When she isn’t potting, Kate can usually be found out for a walk, watching a black and white film or cooking.
Anya began working with wire in 1992. She was studying a diploma at Newcastle-under-Lyme College of Art and was really struggling to draw her ideas down on paper so began ‘drawing’ with wire instead. She moved to Hereford a couple of years later, to study a HND in Design Crafts, and started going down to the river Wye shore to collect broken glass ‘pebbles’, driftwood and potshards to add to her work: “I have always been a collector of damaged, decayed, broken and abandoned objects, many of which I use in my current practice. There was always a mental battle, as a child, of whether my love of finding objects would lead down the path of archaeology or whether my incessant inventing of stories and assembling of objects would take me along a more artistic route. The latter prevailed and eventually my object collecting has become a necessary material for my practice and my practice has become an essential usage for my amassed accumulations.” Anya’s favourite wires to use are iron and steel although she also uses brass, copper and silver wires. Most of the wire work is shaped and bound by hand, manipulating it using pliers and occasionally soldering the joins. The creatures are made by applying layers of paper onto a wire form. She uses strips of vintage papers from broken and damaged books and attaches them using a simple flour and water paste. Once dry, the paper is sealed with a water-based varnish to protect it from damp and damage.
Celestine and the Hare
Karin is an artist and author/illustrator who comes from Swedish, British, Indian grandparents. Now living in Wales they grew up in Lincolnshire and Scotland and spent their summers in Sweden. They needle felt small creatures, makes copper boats and moons, casts copper, bronze and silver charms from nature and tells stories/illustrates books from their little shed studio. Karin also has a love of the magical worlds that exist just out of the corner of our eye, the idea that creatures are going about their everyday business, watering their flowers and reading books in the woods: “I have a wish to make people smile, to bring them some joy, some warmth of heart. A reminder that the magical world we inhabited as children is still there if we are quiet of heart and look for it.” Each creature Karin creates has a unique character and charm of its own with a whisper of the old times, folklore, hidden stories, moons and dreams; linking to the ancient wisdom of the seasons. “The line I always say about Celestine and the Hare is kindness and mischief. I love that duality.” Karin collects treasure when out on her walks and makes moulds of them to cast with copper; seeds, feathers, leaves which they use in their creature sculptures, they change as the earth turns and the seasons move through the year.
Russell is a mixed media artist specialising in making stoneware ceramic animal sculptures, paintings and needle felted birds from his small studio in Derbyshire. His bird sculptures are made using the technique of needle felting, a process of turning wool fibres into a solid three-dimensional form; “it can be a time consuming but ultimately rewarding media. With a nod towards taxidermy, I aim for my birds to have a lifelike appearance, combining dyed and natural rare breed wools with elements of recycled fabric to suggest plumage and markings.” Russell is influenced by the birds he sees around him everyday and particularly loves birds such as sparrows that are often overlooked by people who fail to appreciate their subtle beauty; “the commonplace can be just as interesting as rarities.” Russell tries to capture the unique essence of each bird he makes with the considered choice of materials he selects during making and its eventual finished stance aiming to make the birds life-size.
Stacey graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class BA (Hons) in Contemporary Arts Practice in 2019 and in 2020 achieved her MA in Ceramic Design. She makes her wall sculptures from clay, metal and wood; “My work explores material quality and traditional craft, but the humble ecology of clay, metal and wood remains present throughout." Stacey is interested in the ecology and wider connections of our oldest materials; from their integrated state beneath the ground as tree roots intertwine in clay and metal deposits, to human interventions changing the state of these materials to make everyday objects. “Through traditional craft techniques, I produce sculptures that exploit the qualities of these materials and surface patterns and forms often capture intuitive thoughts in response to the materials in hand. Through making I converse with material, exploring the give and take throughout the making process. By integrating clay, metal and wood, I create scenarios that accommodate for each elements’ strengths and resistances. I enjoy the technical challenge my work presents and will often push material to physical limits to find new making processes and creative outcomes.”
Mark’s work draws inspiration from the sea, and each piece has its own story to tell. “When I produce a piece it becomes a narrative, the tale of a journey. Objects discovered on the shoreline find themselves becoming part of the story.” Mark uses a variety of decoration techniques as his ideas continue to flow and move on to create different avenues and new approaches. Ships, boats, and wrecks are the main fabric of the work, made from clay that has the textures of metal and wood objects salvaged, press moulded and patched together to produce a variety of forms that look as though they have sailed the Seven Seas.
Jess is a designer-maker specialising in glassblowing. Now based in South Manchester, she graduated from De Montfort University with a BA (Hons) in Design Crafts. She then continued to develop her work there during time as their Artist in Residence in the following academic year. Often inspired by travelling and the natural world, her work combines glassblowing techniques to create unique designs.
Jack is a Brighton based sculptural ceramicist who creates artwork that is emotively driven by his passion for conservation and love of wildlife. He spent a lot of time in Dungeness as a child (known for its very wild scenery and textures), which developed his interest in wildlife. In celebration of the animals depicted, Jack uses decorative embellishments, such as lustres and porcelain details upon ceramic forms to create a visual language that subtly highlights environmental and conservation messages. His work is hand coiled and hollow formed using stoneware clay bodies and porcelain. Informing his work through loose sketches and paintings his ideas are then realised in clay where textural contrasts have evolved as a recognisable feature in his work. Notably, his practise has extended to large-scale installation pieces with Blind Veterans UK and educational institutions such as Valley Park School in Kent, where Jack first learnt to hand build in ceramics, and is now an ambassador. Jack is a Craft Council Hothouse 2020 talent and donates 10% of proceeds from each sale of his artwork to animal charities in relation to each piece.
Rebecca creates objects of beauty that allude to the natural world, researching structural and decorative elements that combine the organic with the geometric. She is a graduate from University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, and currently works from her home studio in North East London.
Rebecca has several inspiring collections; The Icelandic Collection is inspired by her travels, focusing on Iceland's otherworldly and elemental landscape, featuring vivid, jewel-like colours and dynamic contrasts. She fuses a rich textural surface by meticulously arranging frits to build up shade, colour and tone, like a painter forming a painting, focusing on pattern, abstraction, and mark-making. Her Anglia Collection celebrates the colour and light of Britain's spring and summertime and her Graduate Collection is inspired by sedimentary rocks in Hunstanton Cliffs, Norfolk. She developed a layered design for all landscapes she responded to focusing on the formation of repeating patterns in the natural world and how they can be distorted and abstracted when perceived from alternate perspectives. She translates these markings into complex designs to incorporate into layers, exploring the unique medium's materiality, fluidity, and beauty.
Please note - the above images are representations of the work which will be provided and might not be the exact pieces featured in the exhibition. Once the show starts we'll be adding photographs of all of the displays so if you want to find out more about a particular piece you can just get in touch, we'll be happy to help!