Monthly Archives: October 2014

Crafting the PR

Caroline Joynson, PR Consultant

This is my first year of working on the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and I can honestly say it has been fantastic. Working with such a passionate and determined team has been great, as has working with such amazing and inspiring designer-makers.

The project has really opened my eyes to the range of unique and beautiful products out there, handmade with skill and panache by professional designer-makers. My home will never look the same again! (I hope.)

To give you a flavour of the designer-makers and the provenance you gain when you buy a piece handmade by them, I’ve listed my top 5 maker stories which I’ve used to promote the event. There are many more but these are a good starting point – to find out more about the makers come along to the event and speak to them yourself, it’s a whole new way of shopping!


Emilie Taylor –

The work of Sheffield-based Emilie Taylor is very powerful. Emilie uses the traditional form of the container or vessel to consider the ways in which British society provides containment for those within it



Brittany Delany –

I love the fact that Brittany’s delicate ceramics are fired in a kiln in her dad’s car garage business in the centre of Stockport. Her studio is in an office behind reception and her kiln is in the workshop with the mechanics. It means she has access 24/7 and company whilst she works, it also keeps her costs down so a win-win all around.




Anna Collette Hunt –

 As part of the campaign I sent a selection of journalists a stag beetle by ceramicist Anna Collette Hunt – lucky people! I fell in love with these glittering, golden insects and Anna’s tales of ‘The Swarm’ swept me away. ‘The Swarm’ started as an installation of 10,000 ceramic insects in Nottingham Castle in 2012 and has since been nationally and internationally exhibited.

franchesca kippax



Francesca Kippax of AnUka Jewellery –

I loved Francesca Kippax’s story of starting her business, AnUka Jewellery, in Vietnam. For the last two years Francesca has been living in the small fishing village of Mui Ne, South Vietnam; working from her small studio space across from the beach. She is now based in Chester and is bringing her new collections to the GNCCF as she continues to build her business.


Andy Poplar of Vinegar and Brown Paper –

Andy turned his back on the world of advertising to set up his contemporary glass etching business Vinegar and Brown Paper and the advertising industry’s loss is our gain! Andy says: “I take vintage or iconic pieces of glassware and bring them to life with the tools of typography, cryptic wit and my own – slightly askew way of looking at the world.” He has an amazing workshop too!


Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to The Whitworth

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to The Whitworth

Even though The Whitworth is currently closed for redevelopment it was important to me to include this venue and it’s amazing collection in the Ornament project.

The Whitworth’s textile collection is internationally important.  Today, it numbers around 20,000 objects from all parts of the world, ranging in date from the 3rd century AD to the present.  The gallery has collected modern and contemporary textiles since it opened in 1889 and these include major examples of art textiles that forge links with both the fine art collections and with the historical textiles. The Whitworth reopens in early spring 2015 following a £15 million redevelopment project.

I met with Deputy Director Jennifer Harris to discuss which artist we might choose from The Whitworth’s collection. We both decided the artist we would choose would be Alice Kettle. Her work is highly collected and represented in many international public and private collections including The Whitworth and the Martin Harris Centre in Manchester. She is also Senior Research Fellow in MIRIAD Manchester School of Art.

Alice Kettle’s Three Caryatids (1988-9) was one of the first major works acquired for the Whitworth’s collection after I joined the gallery as curator of textiles. I loved its ambition – the wonderful figure drawing, the painterly colour mixing and, above all, the breathtaking scale, which challenged the perception of embroidery as small-scale and private                                            Jennifer Harris, Deputy Director, The Whitworth

2 whitworth alice kettle three caryatids

‘Seeing Alice Kettle’s huge triptych Three Caryatids for the first time I was intrigued that her use of thread and stitch could result in a piece which looked more like a painting than a piece of textiles.’

Kelda Savage

Alice Kettle is a contemporary textile artist renowned for her large-scale pieces. Kettle trained as a painter and this is evident in her unique area of embroidery practice, in which she uses vibrant and metallic threads and stitch to create great swathes of colour and textures – painterly backgrounds for her story telling.

Alice Kettle has loaned four works, part of a series titled around the theme of Paradise Lost.

‘’All the works have had other lives and been reworked and reinterpreted which stitch allows you to do. This is a common feature of my work where the actions of stitching, cutting and recycling mean the works are often in movement and renewal. When they come away from my hands they become fixed and permanent.’’

Alice Kettle

This work is a response to the Japanese Tsunami 2011 and the subsequent nuclear catastrophe. It is a work in homage to those who lost their lives.

Alice Kettle Adam, Cotton Slave

Alice is currently undertaking a residency in Australia that I am positive will result in a new body of work. Three Caryatids will be on view again when The Whitworth reopens next spring.

Alice Kettle and The Whitworth are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


whitworth logo

This concludes my journey across the northwest to galleries, museums, universities and a private collector of contemporary craft.

Many thanks to all the artists, curators and collectors for participating in the exhibition, and to the venues for kindly loaning work. I hope you enjoy the inaugural Ornament and it inspires you to begin your own collection.

Kelda Savage

Ornament Curator 2014

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Gallery Oldham

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Gallery Oldham

 Gallery Oldham has been collecting artworks and objects since 1883 and is still collecting today. The current collection includes approximately 1000 items of decorative art. The programming incorporates Oldham’s extensive art, social and natural history collections alongside touring work, newly commissioned and contemporary art, international art and work produced with local communities.

I met with Rebecca Hill to go behind the scenes and discover work by some of the best artists from across the UK. Gallery Oldham holds an impressive and extensive collection of contemporary ceramics so I was thrilled to find several pieces by one of my favourite artists Walter Keeler whose work I have admired for a long time.

walter keeler Two contorted branch teapots Whieldon style earthenware 2013

Gallery Oldham frequently shows Walter Keeler’s work since they appeal to a wide range of audiences. I love the colour and texture of Walter Keeler’s pieces. From a distance they appear sculptural, yet up close they are a dramatic twist on a functional object.”

Rebecca Hill, Curator of Art at Gallery Oldham

Walter is highly respected in the field of ceramics.  A graduate of the famous Harrow School of Art he lead a distinguished academic career becoming Professor of Ceramics at Bristol. He has been making pots for over 40 years and he still makes from his studio in South Wales.  His work is highly collected and is featured in many private and public collections worldwide.

‘’I discovered pottery as a boy, becoming intimate with fragments of ancient pots picked up on the beaches of the Thames in London. They infiltrated my mind and my senses, giving me an insight to the syntax of thrown pottery; a sense of what is authentic, which I only fully understood as I gained experience in the craft.’’

Walter Keeler

Walter Keeler borrows ideas and techniques from the past to create distinctive, imaginative and very contemporary pots that are mainly domestic and functional. He is most renowned for his salt glazed stoneware but has, in recent years, also become known for his glossy tortoise shell and ink-wash glaze pieces. Typical examples of his thrown and moulded earthenware show ‘tortoiseshell’ glaze and Whieldon glaze, petrol coloured ground with green and orange running spots. His thrown and manipulated forms, precisely executed and technically superb, are full of character and wit. His functional pots, while practical, usually have a strong ornamental element with amusing and unexpected details.

Gallery Oldham Walter Keeler Whieldon ware teapot 2008

There’s a lovely tension between something that is functional and something that is beautiful. That’s something Walter Keeler plays around with – his pots look very difficult to handle but when you get hold of them you realise they are just right for you to hold and a functional pot.”

Dinah Winch, former Curator Gallery Oldham

Walter Keeler is represented by Adrian Sassoon.

Walter Keeler and Gallery Oldham are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


Gallery Oldham_Grey_CMYK

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Blackwell: The Arts & Crafts House

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Blackwell: The Arts & Crafts House

This was my first visit to Blackwell: The Arts & Crafts House. Situated in a beautiful part of the country overlooking Windermere, it is a masterpiece of twentieth-century design; a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Curator Beth Hughes gave me a guided tour of the house and explained the history of the property.

Blackwell retains many of its original decorative features, including a rare Hessian wall-hanging in the Dining Room, leaf-shaped door handles, curious window catches, spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden paneling by Simpson’s of Kendal. The rooms contain furniture and objects by many of the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios – metalwork by WAS Benson, ceramics by Pilkingtons and Ruskin Pottery and furniture by Morris & Co., Stanley Webb Davies, Ernest Gimson and Baillie Scott himself. Recent acquisitions of furniture by Baillie Scott are on display, including an oak and ebony inlaid barrel chair with slatted sides, sideboard and a set of dining chairs.

In the White Drawing Room I was thrilled to find the White Room Vase by Kate Malone. I have been a huge fan of her work since I was studying Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern. This subtle cream ware piece is very unusual for Kate, as we are more used to seeing brightly coloured glazes and finishes in her work. It has found a perfect home at Blackwell and would be a wonderful addition to Ornament.

blackwell white room vase kate

Kate Malone’s first visit to Blackwell in 2004 provided the starting point for her solo exhibition in 2005, and she created three new stoneware pieces based on the decorative details within the house. The Blackwell White Room Vase is one of these. The rowanberries on the sides of this cream ware piece are taken from the Holt family crest.

Kate experiments with combining art and nature in her work. She was fascinated by the repeating patterns using natural forms that flow throughout the house and these inspired this bespoke vase.

“I am happy for my pieces to be considered decorative art or craft – in fact I love the word craft as that’s a huge part of what I do.”

Kate Malone

Kate makes beautifully constructed vibrant pots in complex shapes, inspired by all forms of nature, through press moulding and hand coiling. Although many of her pieces may appear somewhat playful or whimsical in their nature, Malone employs her knowledge of clay’s possibilities to create striking and gravity-defying effects, some monumental in scale, pushing the boundaries of her materials to their absolute limits. Her glazes are extraordinary and her characteristic bright vibrant colours and crystalline finishes are down to extensive research and development of her own glaze recipes.

“I aim to be at the same time both very serious and quite silly, simple and clever, adult and child. My aim to broadcast a sense of optimism through my work, to touch the emotions…the pleasure buttons of the spirit, and chase an instinctive use of positive symbolism. I work in three areas; large-scale public projects, one of a kind ceramics and playful smaller pieces. My main studio and large kiln is in London. I also work from smaller satellite studios in Provence and Barcelona. I am motivated by a fascination with clay and with nature. Transforming soft wet clay to fired hard ceramic, then to a shiny glazed surface is addictive.”

Kate Malone

Kate has kindly supplied a selection of porcelain hearts for Ornament. Small, sweet, intimate items, every sliced heart is different and sparkles with crystalline glazes. Kate has designed and had made a hand made box for each one.

1 A Sliced Heart of your Dreams Kate Malone

Kate Malone and Blackwell Arts and Crafts House are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios



Blackwell Logo

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Bluecoat Design Centre

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Bluecoat Design Centre

My next journey took me to Liverpool to meet Maureen Bampton and her fantastic team at the Bluecoat Display Centre.

A nationally and internationally recognised contemporary craft and design gallery established in 1959, the Bluecoat Display Centre, exhibit, promote and sell work from over 350 selected contemporary craftspeople each year.

Maureen kindly showed me around the gallery and I made a shortlist of possible artists for Ornament. We discussed the criteria we would use to select, what techniques and media would be interesting for the audience to see and talked about how our own tastes and personal preferences would inform our decision.

The artist we chose for Ornament is Michael Brennand-Wood.

Michael BW Guilt Trip - Momentary Architecture 2004-5

I chose the work of Michael Brennand-Wood for Ornament because his mixed media work is a firm favourite of mine – dynamic, original, colourful and thought-provoking. I have found over the years that I have been with the Bluecoat Display Centre that many of our regular clientele of collectors feel the same – his work engages with everyone, from students of design to curators from the countries leading museums and galleries. Brennand-Wood’s work has the power to enhance the quality of one’s life in a very tangible way”.

Maureen Bampton, Director, Bluecoat Display Centre.

Michael is internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles. He has explored and developed his own techniques inventing many new and imaginative ways of integrating textiles with other media.

Michael has persistently worked within contested areas of textile practice, embroidery, pattern, lace and recently floral imagery. He believes that the most innovative contemporary textiles emanate from an assured understanding of both textile technique and history.

Ornament will show a variety of mixed media panels incorporating embroidery, aluminium, medals, acrylic, fabric, text and more, and a collection of small brooches decorated with skulls on mixed media backgrounds. The case study Vase Attacks is constructed from an empty brass shell casing, wire, machine embroidered ‘blooms’, dice, wood balls, acrylic and creates fantastic shadows.

Bluecoat MBW Meddles x 3

‘’Michael uses a diverse and eclectic variety of textiles and mixed media to create his freestanding and wall based work. Brightly coloured and dramatic textures are made using three-dimensional found objects alongside two-dimensional threads resulting in fantastically complex pieces. Often delivering an unexpected political message or comment about popular culture and historical meanings his work requires more than a second look.’’

Kelda Savage

Michael Brennand-Wood and Bluecoat Display Centre are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


bluecoat logo


Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Jo Bloxham

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Jo Bloxham

My third visit was to Private Collector and Curator Jo Bloxham.

I first met Jo back in 2007 when we worked together on the 11th Ars Ornata Europeana jewellery symposium that consisted of numerous exhibitions, talks, discussions and workshops around the subject of contemporary jewellery.

Jo has been collecting jewellery and art objects for many years. Her collection comprises of wearable and non-wearable pieces from international artists.

Visiting Jo at home she generously showed me her superb collection of pieces from across the world and shared a wonderful story with me:

In April 2010 Jo attended a jewellery symposium called Walking the Gray Area in Mexico City. After a week of inspiring talks and exhibitions it was time to go home but then a news flash declared the skies over Europe were closed due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland and resulting cloud.

Dozens of jewellers gathered in disbelief – what would they do now? How was everyone to get home? There was nothing to do but wait…. In her hotel room listening to the screech of an organ grinder Jo began to consider her time in Mexico with its rich and colourful culture of chaos. She felt sad that the cloud that was keeping her there would overshadow her amazing journey. Then it all became clear, why not make something positive out of the situation and an idea for an exhibition was born Under that Cloud.

Jo invited 18 jewellers to create work to this theme and the resulting exhibition Under that Cloud was shown at Manchester Art Gallery in 2011. Caroline created a glass bead bracelet as a self-portrait in response to the masked wrestling image she found in the local market in Mexico. Jo bought Caroline’s Glass Bead Bracelets after the show.

Jo Bloxham Caroline Broadhead Bracelets Glass Beads

“I chose to loan the Broadhead pieces because she is one of the few British artists whose work I collect. It was Caroline’s earlier work that drew my attention to jewellery, so I thought it fitting for her to be represented here in Ornament. I bought both pieces simply because my heart skipped a beat when I saw them.”  

Jo Bloxham

Jo has curated several contemporary jewellery exhibitions for Manchester Art Gallery including Under that Cloud, Sting of Passion, Karl Fritsch and Bernhard Schobinger: The Rings of Saturn currently running at the MAG until 19 October.

‘’This humorous and quirky glass bead bracelet is a very unusual piece for Caroline and that is what makes it so collectable.’’

Kelda Savage

Caroline Broadhead is a highly versatile artist and has a multi disciplinary practice. Trained as jeweller, she has developed her practice beyond this discipline to work on a larger scale in the fields of fine and applied arts, particularly with textiles, light and space. She was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts in 1997 and was winner of the Textiles International Open in 2004. Her work is included in numerous public collections internationally. She is Course Director of Jewellery at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

‘’For more than forty years, I have run my own practice exploring objects that come into contact with the body and that also might represent a person. I am concerned with boundaries of an individual; between inside and outside, public and private, this includes a sense of territory and personal space, presence and absence and the creation of a balance between substance and image. The work has explored outer extents of the body as seen through light, shadows and reflections. Larger scale works with space and boundaries between people develop atmospheres that elicit subjective, emotional responses.”

CB 2011 Dressed Up, photo by Phil Sayer

“My work is mainly driven by ideas but making and materials are an integral part of the process. You can’t make things without considering the craft of it.”    

Caroline Broadhead.

Caroline Broadhead is represented by the Marsden Woo Gallery London.

Caroline Broadhead and Jo Bloxham are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to MMU Special Collections

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to MMU Special Collections.

Second stop was MMU Special Collections where I met with Curator Stephanie Boydell.

Stephanie and I first met back in 2007 when I was invited by Crafts Magazine to visit the exhibition Firing Thoughts at MMU Special Collections and write a short review for their next issue.

Stephanie kindly showed me around the large storeroom at MMU Special Collections. Armed with a big bowl of keys we worked our way around numerous metal cabinets and opened each one in turn revealing a vast collection of contemporary craft in a variety of different materials including metal, stone, mixed media, textiles, paper and ceramics.

MMU Special Collections started in the 1850‘s. We discussed it’s history and how the collection had grown.

It was impossible to choose one artist at this stage in the project as I still had many venues to visit and I was unsure of what I might discover. I took many pictures and made notes. It occurred to me that some artists would be held at many venues and in several collections. I realised that the project must continue in a very fluid manner so as not to predict any outcomes and be open to possibilities that may arise.

After completing the other visits it became clear that one of my favourite artists, Bob Crooks, would become the chosen artist from MMU Special Collections.

I first became aware of Bob’s work when I started working with craft at The City Gallery in Leicester.

MMU Special Collections own a very beautiful piece by him named Longitudinal Vase from 2006.

Longitudinal Vase Bob Crooks

Bob Crooks is one of Britain’s most highly recognised glassmakers. Renown for the high quality, skillfully executed dynamic forms and surfaces, his work has been exhibited in exhibitions in Italy, China, Scandinavia, Australia, the USA as well as in numerous venues across the UK. All work is designed, handmade and finished by Bob and no moulds are used to create the forms or surfaces.

The pieces are inspired by geometry, architecture, the natural and man-made worlds we live in, and are influenced by the qualities and capabilities of the glass itself. Bob exploits the many properties of glass through refraction or reflection; sharpness or softness, transparency or opacity, working with it’s fluidity and ‘freezing’ it as the desired form is realised.

The pieces are large and create a dramatic statement. On closer inspection there are intricacies which draw ones eye. The objects demonstrate a masterly love of the material with attention to fine detail.

“I am thrilled to be showing three pieces from Bob’s new body of work. Here’s a preview of a piece on display in Ornament. I’m looking forward to seeing how the lines and colours within the glass create amazing shadows.”    

Kelda Savage

w1 Complexity Vase Bob Crooks

Bob Crooks and Manchester Metropolitan University are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


mmu-logo blue