As Collect moves to its new home at London's Somerset House (27 Feb-1 Mar), we pick out the British-based talents to seek out and invest in now.
VICKY LINDO, Alveston Fine Art
The winner of the 2019 British Ceramics Biennial, Lindo has pieces in the V&A Shop, and is gathering quite a following.
How do you describe your work? We make sgraffito (a technique of carving through a thin, coloured surface to reveal a contrasting colour beneath) earthenware ceramics in our studio, The Pigeon Club in North Devon. My partner Bill makes plaster moulds and then castings from forms we design, which I decorate.
Where do you find inspiration? The North Devon slipware collection at The Burton at Bideford is very inspiring. The sgraffito lines, imagery and motifs, and free-flowing intuitive composition, which has been made locally for hundreds of years, has really shaped our work. The decoration, intimate and unaffected, connects you to the maker and the moment each mark was carved into the clay.
What drew you to the technique? I used to do a lot of illustrative embroidery, but became frustrated with the slow speed. Sgraffito has the same depth and texture, but if you work on clay at the right dryness, it allows quick flowing lines to be carved. The material determines a window of time you have to work in – this constraint, combined with the challenge of wrapping my drawings around a three-dimensional shape, helps me produce my best work.
Tell us about your process... Bill and I approach our work in very different ways. I use surface decoration as a starting point, while Bill begins by planning construction and processes for building.We work together from the get-go, usually approaching ideas from opposite ends. The finished work, which can take anything from eight to 12 weeks or six months if you include mould-making, is never what either of us intended but an amalgamation of ideas. vickylindo.co.uk/
ANNETTE MARIE TOWNSEND, Collect Open
The Welsh artist uses beeswax to create botanical sculptures, which encourage viewers to appreciate the natural world.
How do you describe your work? I’m a natural history artist working at the intersection between art, craft and science; my artwork explores nature and the theme of protection. It’s both decorative and scientific, and aims to encourage others to observe and conserve the world around them.
Where do you find inspiration? From the small, delicate details in nature that might be hidden or overlooked. I am also intrigued by museum collections and the process of ordering and storing scientific specimens. The skills I learnt during my 20-year career as a scientific artist and natural history conservator in a museum are also a big influence.
Tell us about the material you use... My botanical sculptures of wildflowers are made using traditional wax modelling techniques, from beeswax, wire, fabric and other mixed media.The flower sculptures in my Collect Open installation are created from honey bee wax collected from bee colonies inNew York State, which has been analysed and found to contain pesticide residues.
How long does a piece of work take? A whole plant with several flowers, leaves and roots can take up to three weeks to complete, while my Collect Open installation is a culmination of several months’ work. annettemarietownsend.com
DANIEL FREYNE, Craft Scotland
The Scottish artist trained as a blacksmith and forges age-old techniques with contemporary sensibilities.
How do you describe your work? An homage to the foundations of blacksmithing, but with a distinct breakaway from the romanticised notion of what a smith is and is not.
Where do you find inspiration? Ceramic artists – the poetics behind the works of Peter Voulkos and Grayson Perry has given me a platform to work. I’ve always found comfort in deconstructing traditional rules and it’s become a driving intention in my work.
What attracted you to metal? My chosen material is iron. It brings me back to when I was 16 and I hit hot metal for the first time at an open day for an agricultural college near Edinburgh. Overtime, I found that the metal, when heated appropriately, is gentle and vulnerable. This fragility is always at the front of my mind.
Is there anything unusual about your process? I use both progressive approaches and ancient techniques. For example, the process for my ‘Playful Perceptions’ series is used for making armour. The ‘unusual’ thing is my intention and application with the material – I want it to be seen in a contemporary light.
How long does a piece of work take? Two days to a week. My Collect London range was completed in just over a week per piece. danielfreyne.co.uk/
KAJA UPELJ, Qest Gallery
The Slovenian artist graduated from RCA in 2018 and uses glass to manipulate light and colour.
Describe your work... It challenges human perception to the point where the observer sees glass as soft, warm and welcoming. My work focuses on iridescent colours and the illusion of movement, as if the pieces possess a life of their own.
Where do you find inspiration? From gemstones such as mother of pearl and labradorite – the movement of colours within them is so subtle and yet so mysterious.
What drew you to glass? Seeing hot glass being manipulated in Murano, Italy, changed my entire perception of it asa medium, from something hard and cold into a soft, liquid material. I’m intrigued by the qualities it offers, too. There are so many uncertainties about the medium that it gives the artist a lot of freedom to create something different.
Is there anything unusual about your making process? ‘Subtle flow’ is a result of chemicals and their reactions with hot glass. The colours visible are not added colour pigments but hues that are introduced with chemical reactions that happen during the making process. The colours within my ‘Otherworldly Bodies’ collection resulted from a different technique that varies the amount of light in the work, which reflects it in different shades.
How long on average does a piece of work take? For the ‘Otherworldly Bodies’ series, it took around a month to finish one artwork due to the long firing time and the hand-finishing which creates the silky, tactile surface. craftscouncil.org.uk
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration March 2020
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