- 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.
When an exhibition is called Out of the Woods it is perhaps not surprising that trees and wood feature among the art and craft on display – both as subject matter and raw material.
Each of Kerry Harding’s stunning paintings for Out of the Woods feature a tree in some form, often distorted by the effects of the weather. Kerry is drawn to the scenery around her home in west Cornwall and delights in capturing the way that the violence of the elements can soften even the hardest of parts of landscape. Kerry almost mirrors the effects of nature in her work as she often removes paint to get the effect she desires: with only the memory of the paint her trees look wonderfully wind swept. The universal appeal of Kerry’s impressive work has won her clients across the world – who have never felt the force of a Cornish wind!
From the south west of England to Kirkcudbrightshire in the south west of Scotland where Lizzie Farey has her own willow field where she grows the raw material for her baskets and sculptural work (pictured below) Lizzie spends six weeks every winter cutting down the willow before letting it dry out for six months; once dry it is soaked in a cattle trough, then allowed to ‘mellow’ before it is finally ready to be used. Her extremely elegant work is constructed entirely traditionally without wire, nails or glue; the resulting work is stunning and it’s little wonder that it features in a number of notable public and private collections.
After a few months hibernating, The Byre is now open for spring with our new exhibition: Out of the Woods. As ever an exhibition at The Byre features a mix of work from ‘regulars’ and introduces makers new to the gallery. For Out of the Woods I’m delighted to welcome Cornwall based fine artist, Kerry Harding whose stunning paintings add such impact to the exhibition; hanging alongside Kerry’s work are the vibrant woodcut prints of Sarah Morris which brilliantly capture the rich hues of the Devon countryside where Sarah lives, works and cycles!
Working in wood can produce such incredibly different results: Sally Burnett’s delicate vessels seem to defy the solidity of the medium; while Lizzie Farey’s willow pieces offer supple elegance, Sam Harrison’s work in sycamore and oak perfectly retain the memory of the living tree. On a much smaller scale, Lisa Henshall’s beautiful rings and earrings are paintings in miniature on wooden jewellery. From wood to wire and beyond: Ruth Bateman’s delightful sculptures of hares beautifully capture the movement and character of these wonderful creatures; and textile designer Katie Wallis finds inspiration for her highly desirable cushions and scarves from other wonderful creatures: bees and peacocks. In ceramics, Ali Tomlin is a maker I’ve long admired and I’m delighted to finally have her elegant pieces in Out of the Woods.
I’m also very pleased to welcome back to The Byre ceramicists Lucy Burley, Paul Cardew, Jill Holland, Remon Jephcott, and Hugh Maitland Perry; glass artists Cat MacKenzie, Charlotte Sale and Ruth Shelley; and jewellery designers Tracey Falvey, Anna Pope and Lucy Spink.