Do you, like me, ever marvel at how a gnarled lump of wood or fuzz of oily wool become the exquisite and useful forms which we cherish each day? How many years of dedication, internal conversation, trial and error, imagination and quiet ambition have been channelled into creating these expert expressions? Where a maker of unique ability could take a sprig of an idea, when given a focus and dedicated support?
Over the year we will be celebrating the talents and works of a diverse group of rare individuals, sharing the ingredients which make them the extraordinary artists they are and telling tales of collaborative projects and collections we look forward to. Here are, but a few, highlights:
• Nonagenarian artist, and creator of disarmingly charming block-printed wallpaper, Marthe Armitage collaborates with her grandson Joe, to create an exclusive version of the light Marthe’s husband designed to furnish their house in 1950s India.
• As a toddler, the seeds of his vocation were sewn playing with scraps of cobbler’s leather in Northampton, and now leather-wonder Bill Amberg runs a globally-renowned leather workshop from London. With his craftsmen, he reappropriates unexpected upholstery techniques and materials to create a lounge chair which celebrates their extensive knowledge.
• Two years ago, we commissioned a group of makers journey to Orkney to create a collection of pieces which painted a ‘Portrait of Place’ and this year we will venture to a new location - a vast, historic and ground-breaking estate in North Norfolk. Here, 7 talented makers will immerse themselves in the interiors, parkland and farmland, rich tapestry of happenings, and characters, channelling chosen narratives through beautifully crafted works – eloquent evocations of place.
• Rooted in the manufacturing and industrial heritage of North East England, Novocastrian brings their mastery and innovative approach to metalsmithing to a collaboration with artist, and creator of pared back, sculptural jesmonite furniture and lighting, Malgorzata Bany. From these conversations, new metallic furniture pieces, the epitome of Malgorzata’s serene and exacting vision, will emerge.
• Working with a renowned partner, we launch an Award to support and nurture talented makers from diverse backgrounds to help foster a more representative and inclusive craft world.
We very much look forward to revealing these, and many other stories of creative brilliance, throughout the year. For now, find below some of the exceptional pieces and makers that are inspiring me today and I hope they lift your spirits too.
Catherine Lock and all at The New Craftsmen