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‘This International Women’s Day, we would like to thank all our talented female makers who, with needle or chisel in hand, are realising their ambitions with great integrity and imagination. And to the female creative talents who came before, who still lead and inspire us today, we toast you all!’ – Catherine Lock, Creative Director at The New Craftsmen
The New Craftsmen are proud supporters of female creativity in all aspects of craft. From furniture-making and textiles, to ceramics and sculpture, the skills and range of the female makers we represent is certainly something to be celebrated. In honor of International Women’s Day, and to thank them for being part of our community, our Creative Director, Catherine Lock, has created a very special edit of pieces designed solely by women. Explore the edit here.
With this in mind, we asked some of these makers to tell us a little bit about their inspirations. Unsurprisingly, the responses were enthusiastic and laden with references to the creative genius of women throughout history. Women who have mastered their craft and whose work spans centuries of change.
Louisa Loakes embarked on a journey of discovery in the archives of pioneering block printers Enid Marx (1902-1998), Phyllis Barron (1890-1964) and Dorothy Larcher (1882-1952) and her findings were particularly evocative.
Louisa exploring the archives of Barron and Larcher.
‘With every new pattern that I unravelled that day I felt energy; energy to take away with me for my new collection. The spirit of three remarkable printers. To continue to experiment and remain playful with the block and the lines and marks that I make’. Louisa Loakes
Left: Barron and Larcher in their shared workshop, image kindly provided by the Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts. Right: Enid Marx working in her studio, © Estate of Enid Marx
In the ceramic world, Iva Polachova is motivated by the joy of engaging with her material and the rhythm of making. She admires the freedom of movement found in clay, and finds Lucie Rie’s work particularly embodies this sentiment. Iva is struck by Rie’s philosophy that making is a constant adventure.
‘Every new work is a new beginning. Indeed I shall never cease to be a pupil’. Lucie Rie
Lucie Rie in her studio, © Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts
Viv Lee looks to the influential works of Barbara Hepworth and Valentine Schlegel whose abstract approach greatly influences her own curvaceous, gestural forms. ‘Hepworth worked primarily with wood and stone’ writes Viv, ‘while Schlegel created coil-built vessels from clay; both sought to make works that engaged their viewers' senses and their relationship to nature. These ideas resonate strongly within my practice and motivate my own approach to making’.
Left: Babara Hepworth with her cat Nicholas, photograph taken by Ida Kar in 1961 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Right: Valentine Schlegel working in the studio
Pallas Kalamotusis of Studio Krokalia is currently having a Betye Saar moment, and finds that the work of this incredible artist speaks directly to her like ‘magic’, proudly exclaiming that Betye’s ‘use of colour and pattern is seriously inspiring my next round of painting!’.
Left: Betye Saar in her Laurel Canyon studio in 1976, photographed by Richard Saar. Right: Pallas Kalamotusis painting underglazes on Candy Berry Vessel.
Pallas’ creative partner Freya Bramble-Carter is greatly moved by people supporting their local communities, particularly the work of her friend Nadia, who has started a scheme called ‘Sisters Supportin’ which brings together female business owners. Freya explains, ‘it’s her love and compassion that inspires me the most’.
On discovering an artistic heritage dating back generations, Textile Artist Aimee Betts realised that her own work is more than just a passion. The women from her family have all worked in textiles at some point in their lives, ‘I’m only just learning about my textile heritage, but it seems as though textile making is in my DNA’.
Left: Aimee stitching in her studio, photographed by Alun Callender. Right: Aimee braids the Stitched Sideboard, commissioned by The New Craftsmen.
Notions of momentum and lineage are woven through these references, alongside the urge to explore, improve and create lasting work. We encourage you all to continue creating and supporting craftsmanship.