“Imaginative and otherworldly, the various elements have all come out to play in an exhibition that is as irreverent and thought-provoking as it is photogenic.” Henrietta Thompson, ‘Telegraph Luxury’.
For London Craft Week 2019, The New Craftsmen has collaborated with up-and-coming Designer & Artist Charlotte Kingsnorth to present ‘Processing Lichen & Other Matter’, a bold new show showcasing Charlotte’s new groundbreaking lichen furniture collection.
Charlotte worked closely with The New Craftsmen team to transform our Mayfair store, resulting in a provocative wonderland which subverts and challenges preconceived notions of craft.
The show also presents work from several new makers, each of whom explore rebellious manifestations of material and process in their work, be it nano metallic glass sculptures or shell encrusted obelisks.
“There’s an elemental energy which pulls everything together,” Charlotte explains. “I was looking for things that worked cohesively; rudimentary landscapes which take you on a psychedelic journey”.
The idea of distorting rudimentary elements to create innovative designs is evident throughout: new maker Alice Walton creates complex and intense textures on her ceramic forms by pin-pricking the surface of the clay entirely by hand using a bradel. These sit alongside artworks by Alexander De Vol and Tess Morley, exploring the materiality of natural elements such as wood and shells, and how this translates in various forms.
Then there’s textiles by Paris Essex, a design duo who work in tandem to create their dynamic psychedelic pieces. “The way they push their craft is really exciting - creating each piece as a duo, telling this story throughout the making process,” explains Charlotte.
The work of glass artist Dawn Bendick also experiments with colour in form, analysing how changes in light alters our perception of the world around us. Working with glass casting, Dawn embeds the glass with metallic nanoparticles such as gold and silver, which change colour when the particles react to changes in lightwaves.
“These artists and designers are making playful and bold work which cuts through traditional craft techniques, hacking into industrial processes as a type of art form.”
Charlotte also applies this approach to her own work. A designer and artist who studied Product Design at the RCA, Charlotte will often work closely with craft makers to develop her ideas.
“I like to dip into learning a craft technique in order to pick up enough of the skillset to push an idea forward, but without being too drawn into a set way of doing things. That way I am not too bogged down with the traditional way of making something and my mind is more free to play”.
While developing the pioneering lichen patina finish for her new bronze furniture collection, Charlotte worked closely with a patina specialist, experimenting with different tools and chemicals to create the depth, colour and texture.
“My goal was to work with patina in a way I hadn’t seen before,” Charlotte muses. “Inspired by the lichen that was growing on a railing near my studio, I embarked on a series of studies exploring its different forms, from leaf-like branches to a cracked powder-like look, and then reinterpreted its growth and patterns on bronze which I have first cut, rolled and braised into basic archetypal forms which are functional objects.”
The notion of craft patronage has also emerged throughout the curation of the show, and how critical this is to the development of new talent. The circumstances which led to Charlotte developing her lichen furniture collections as an example:
“The collection started with a bigger dining table commissioned by a private client, who were incredibly open to ideas.” Charlotte then presented the idea to The New Craftsmen, who encouraged her to develop this technique on new forms, now encompassing mirrors, lighting and accessories as well as furniture.
“Without this support, the concept couldn't have evolved,” explains Charlotte. “In the UK young designers and artists aren't supported as much anymore, so it’s more difficult to develop new ideas.”