catching up on contemporary craft

Yesterday I was lucky to be able to spend the afternoon at Collect, the annual Crafts Council fair for contemporary international craft. I think it would be true to say my mind was fairly blown by the array of beautiful works being shown, which revealed such a variety of skills and inspiration. There was quite a lot more jewellery and ceramics on show than textiles, but that said, I still found some stunning textile works to impress me. From large-scale felt (or at least I think it was felt) wall hangings:

to magnificent finely woven panels in gorgeous sunset colours:

through to fine handwoven silk ikat in subtle, natural shades:

Whilst seeing all of this work was immensely uplifting, and it filled me with optimism for life, creativity and so forth, I thought that the emphasis of the show on collecting and owning these pieces of art something of a drag. Now I’m not a hopeless dreamer, and I realise that artists have to make a living too, but normally at art shows there is more of a sense that you’re there to appreciate the art for its beauty, originality, wit, or whatever. There, however, the stress was definitely on buying the art purely in order to own it. Or am I just being overly romantic and a spoilsport?

I’m sure I don’t need to mention that buying anything at all was absolutely out of the question for me. Anyhow, this didn’t stop me from enjoying myself and admiring things regardless. Particularly these wonderfully characterful woodland creatures in paperclay. There was a deer, and a little spring lamb, too, all decorated with classic tile patterns, in a fun blend of different ceramic traditions.

I was a little taken aback when I spotted this bizarre taxidermy jewellery, though… I can appreciate the beauty of the bird and the pearls, and the sympathetic arrangement of the two together, but I couldn’t help feeling sad that such a beautiful bird has been turned into something as meaningless as a necklace. I don’t know. Maybe this is just the spoilsport coming out in me again. But it obviously struck me considerably in spite of these mixed feelings, as I was driven to take a photo of it.

But the piece that wins the prize for being the best creation at the show (in my book at least) has to be this one. It’s aptly called ‘Monumental Fennel’. I love it. It’s pretty enormous, as you can see. There’s nothing I’d like better to grace my living room than a massive ceramic fennel bulb. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the price tag is totally prohibitive, however. But look – here I am lusting after ownership myself. Now I understand how these things work…