I have just returned from North Devon after opening Get Fresh, The Devon Guild of Craftsmen’s exhibition for early career craft makers. The show has become a regular feature of The Guild’s programming and it was a real privilege to be asked to undertake the selection process last summer and then return to open the event on Friday night. The quality of the work was excellent and shows that, despite the continued contraction of Craft degree courses nationally, typified recently by the closure announcement of the well-regarded course at Falmouth University, the discipline in the sector is still thriving and able to create the innovative and exciting makers of the future.
The show is well worth a visit, and exemplifies the diversity of practice that sits within ‘Craft’ currently, the vision that some of the UK’s emerging makers have for the future of their field and the contribution they want to make to it. Some Makers have demonstrated practice rooted in the making tradition of their respective disciplines such as Ambrose Vever, with his wooden furniture and Alex McCarthy and his thrown ceramic vessels topped off with unconventional use of lustre glaze; others such as Elizabeth Loveday and Jenny Ayrton explore narrative through the medium of textiles and glass respectively, creating whimsical and evocative scenes of real or imagined, exciting or humdrum, human experiences; in contrast Chloe O’Brien, and Frank Luckham create jewellery utilising ‘precious’ materials, bullion and the ephemeral post card, Luckham playing with shape and form, O’Brien referencing the dying ‘art’ of analogue communication, and both making the viewer reflect on the nature of preciousness through these choices of materials; off the body and into the home Melanie Kew and Angie Parker explore riotous, bright, bold colours through surface, the former on ceramics and the later in weave; whilst others interface with commercial design such as Tess Wakeling, creating a range of functional lights and lampshades for the modern design lead interior.
The exhibition is on until the 18th March 2015 but if you miss it I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity to see these fledgling crafts-makers in the future, as they develop their practice into sustainable, successful businesses and have work exhibited elsewhere for years to come.