Well, after a huge delay & an extended honeymoon, I am finally writing about the wonderful day I had exploring the Contemporary Craft Festival back in June. It was so inspiring to meet all the talented makers and talk to them about their individual crafts first hand. With my own work being shown at the upcoming Made By Hand in Cardiff at the end of October, it was also great to see how all the artists had interpreted the space available so differently to reflect their own work.
The Festival was also an opportunity to meet up with friends and make new acquaintances – Susan Holton is one of my fellow members from Handmade Horizons, so it was lovely to finally put a face to an online presence. It was great to catch up with Jodie Hook who I met through exhibiting together. Unfortunately I was too busy chatting to take any photos of their stands…! You can follow the links to their respective websites to browse their beautiful handmade wares.
The first stall that caught my eye on entering the vast tent was Anna Brimley‘s quiet, elegant sculptural pieces that on interaction moved in a beautiful, satisfying way. Each kinetic sculpture was slightly different, offering a unique reaction to your interaction with it. Her jewellery pieces were also kinetic sculptures in their own right. A bracelet that contained a ballbearing caught in a long silver channel subtly implied all the joyful hours you would spend twisting your wrist this way and that to make it move.
Another favourite was the individual work of Anya Keeley. I had seen her work at Made By Hand in the past and fallen in love with her characterful animal sculptures and beautifully attentive presentation. Displayed together her work takes on a story-like quality, as if her stand is a small window on a parallel handmade world where her hybrid characters come from.
Another artist whose presentation compliments her work beautifully is Katrin Moye. The elegant muted tones of her intricate hand-patterned ceramics stand out perfectly on the plain backgrounds that tone in with her work. Each piece is beautiful in its own right, but they look so brilliant together you can’t help but want to take them all off her hands and deck out a huge, scrubbed wooden Welsh dresser.
The both classy and whimsical feel of Jo Candlish‘s stall caught my eye, and this apparent juxtaposition was also present in her work. Classic strings of pearls were made much less formal with folded metal pendants that were both flower-like and elegant in their symmetry. With her jewellery pieces draped over the eclectic display of stacked old books, it had the overall feel of a stately old library, gradually being crept in on by its adjoining garden.
The influence of his surrounding environment on Justin Duance‘s work is evident in his solid combinations of wood, metal and precious stones – they seem to give each piece a firm grounding in the world. It was particularly interesting to see Justin’s processes represented on his stand, with the different elements of his work alongside pieces in various stages of completion laid out amongst the finished items. I was particularly drawn to the textured silver, which seems to echo the seaside landscape of his home town.
As a leather worker myself, 2 artists particularly drew me to their work. Gosia Weber‘s packed stand of vibrant, joyful handmade bags, purses & clutches almost made me gape – I know how long pieces like this take and the volume of work present was incredible. One of my favourite things is matching up leather and fabric colours together; Gosia’s combinations are sumptuous. The effect of them all together was really zingy.
Being my newly married surname, the name of Williams British Handmade bags caught my eye before I’d had a proper look at her work. I have genuinely never seen anything like them and it was love at first sight; they manage to be simultaneously classic and modern. The unique shapes to her bags are incredible and my tiny handmade mind works overtime to imagine what is involved to create each one. Maybe, on a future milestone birthday, I will have earned one of these pieces of Luggage Art.
The understatedly coherent combination of function & design in Circle 52 Design‘s work quietly insists on your attention. My favourite piece was an elegant serving board, complete with thumbhole, that had been subtly carved to show the layers within the ply.
Her gold-tipped milk jugs looked akin to a row of quirky birds marching proudly along their shelf, golden beaks aloft. Katie Almond‘s busy stand was wonderful – like the excited buzz around the tables of a street party as the final touches are added to the spread.
The combination of her intricately decorated ceramics, the lacy doilies, carefully chosen props and vintage display cards made me feel both delighted and nostalgic. One jug-bird calls ‘Tea Party’ and another ‘Cheerful’ and that is exactly it.