- Elaine’s Blog
I’m very excited to be a sponsor of this year’s Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey which opens on the 9th June: it is a must-visit destination for me every year, and being under an hour’s journey from home, I always feel extremely fortunate that one of the country’s best contemporary craft events is pretty much on my doorstep.
Sarah James, the festival’s director asked me to pick five of the makers taking part this year that I was most looking forward to seeing. Trying to narrow my choice down to five makers was not easy, as ever there is a huge wealth of talent that I’m extremely keen to see. I’m so pleased to see that a number of ‘regulars’ at The Byre are taking part this year and some, like Jill Holland and Lucy Spink, for the first time.
But after a few attempts to narrow my list down, I decided on:
Sarah Jerath – ceramics
When I curate an exhibition at The Byre I draw heavily on styling techniques, mixing colours, textures and materials to create a cohesive whole, and so I’m always drawn to desirable and interesting work that has been beautifully styled and photographed. Sarah’s work ticks all the boxes for me. I love the texture and form of her work – and the way it has been so attractively photographed really enhances it; you want to reach out, grab it, and fill your home with it. With such an eye for styling I’m intrigued to see how Sarah will present her work.
Charlotte Wilkinson – glass
I’m a huge fan of glass: I absolutely love the way it responds to light and how a burst of sunshine can bounce through it and throw glorious coloured shadows on the walls and ceiling. I also love hearing about the inspiration for a maker’s work – and when I read the story behind Charlotte Wilkinson’s work I was captivated. Finding inspiration from the unusual and the unlikely can give an added twist to already beautiful work, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Charlotte’s vibrant pieces.
Valerie Wartelle – textiles
Wall-hung textiles can add real richness and texture to a room in the way a canvas or framed piece rarely can; but heavy textiles can often overwhelm. Valerie Wartelle’s beautiful work has a wonderful delicacy in both the colours and the materials she uses, they exude both warmth and elegance.
Jane Bevan – wood
The Byre’s spring exhibition is Out of the Woods (not to be confused with the CCF event of the same name!) and I’ve been really fascinated by the way different makers can create such distinct work using the same raw material, I hadn’t realised how versatile wood could be. I was delighted to discover the very innovative work of Jane Bevan; a really refreshing approach to wood craft with some fantastic pieces in her collection – I can’t wait to see them in ‘the flesh,’
Kate Toms – textiles/mixed media
As a dog owner – and lover – I couldn’t help but be charmed by Kate Toms’ work. Her felt four-legged friends have such personalities, just like real dogs, and I especially love the exaggeratedly large paws.
Having shown Ruth Shelley’s stunning glass in every exhibition since The Byre opened in October 2013, I think I’m a pretty good judge of her work. I’ve loved each new collection but with Peace of Mwnt for Out of The Woods, I think Ruth has excelled herself; her colour combination and the quality of each piece is quite simply stunning. Her vessels look amazing in sunlight and work so well with other glass, such as Cat Mackenzie’s elegant vase pictured here, as well as ceramic pieces. At the 2015 International Glass Biennale, Ruth was awarded the Glass Sellers’ Maker Award; her new work has been accepted for this year’s event which is held at the end of August and, having had a quick preview, I feel sure it will net her another award.
Another highlight of any exhibition at The Byre is of course ceramics. I’ve long admired the timeless elegance of Ali Tomlin’s beautiful porcelain work and am thrilled to be able to feature her in Out of the Woods. From simple jugs and single stem vases to larger statement pieces, the craftsmanship, style and gracefulness of Ali’s work shines through; not to be missed.