Get involved, get inspired at this years Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.

stephen graham sledging 10

This year’s Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (GNCCF) opens its doors from 8 to 11 October at Old Granada Studios in Manchester for its vibrant and dynamic annual celebration of cutting-edge craft and design.

The Studios will once again be bustling with creative talent, providing shoppers and collectors looking to buy or commission the beautiful and unique direct from 175 of the UK’s most talented designer-makers. Selected by an independent panel for their excellence, the designer-makers will showcase work from a variety of areas of design including interior and fashion textiles, glass, jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, print-making and more. Buying direct from the makers, visitors can learn about the craft skills, inspiration, materials and stories behind the work on show.


This year, visitors will also be able to get involved in the making process, with demonstrations, workshops, installations and curator led talks and tours.  New for 2015 is a craft and design-based artist in residence, Harriet Lawton who will make a body of work during the event, with involvement from and in full view of the visitors and Stephen Graham, an Installation artist who has recently graduated from the Royal College of Art and who will be producing an installation based upon the Architecture of Manchester. More from these two later.

The GNCCF champions contemporary craft and makers at all levels and all disciplines from the emerging design talent of the curated Great Northern Graduates showcase to the highly collectible and critically-acclaimed makers in the Ornament exhibition. Ornament will showcase exceptional museum quality collectible craft from a selection of the UK’s most eminent makers.



Angela Mann and Ann-Marie Franey founded the GNCCF in 2008.

Angela said: “There is a growing fascination with how items are made and a desire to own pieces with their own story and provenance and craft is booming as a result. We have been celebrating this for eight years in Manchester, arguably the creative capital of the North, and are looking forward to another successful event. To see so much talent under one roof is going to be mind-blowing and promises a fantastic day out for those looking to be inspired, whether it’s their first visit to the GNCCF, or their eighth.”

Ann-Marie said: “We were delighted with the success of Ornament last year and are proud to welcome it back this year, along with new pop-up studios and craft installations. We are delighted to celebrate these exceptional artisans and magnificent makers, who combine fine art, design and making to offer work people want to own, collect and keep.”

The GNCCF will commence with a special preview evening on Thursday 8 October from 6pm-9.30pm where visitors can celebrate the start of the event and have a preview of both Ornament and the Fair itself. It will then be open from 10am on Friday 9 October to Sunday 11 October.


For further information on the show, visit , Facebook and Twitter @GNCCF


Exciting new plans for the Old Granada Studios site.

There are plans afoot for the current home of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.


Leading Manchester figures have welcomed the announcement of £78m to support the expanding cultural offer in the city.

The Factory Manchester will sit at the heart of a new creative village – St John’s, in the city centre on the former Granada Studios site, establishing Manchester as the country’s most important arts and cultural employment centre outside London


The arts space capable of transforming from a 2,200 seat theatre to an immersive artistic environment with a standing capacity of up to 5,000 and will be the permanent home to the Manchester International Festival (MIF).


MIF- Festival Square 2013

It will produce other work in the innovative spirit of MIF from across the arts and popular culture – attracting the best national and international artists and companies. The Factory Manchester will play an integral part in helping Manchester and the North of England provide a genuine cultural counterbalance to London, supporting the city and region’s growth.

The Factory Manchester will be a major catalyst to the cultural economy in the North West of England and beyond, attracting clusters of related activities and extra visitors to the city. It is calculated that within a decade it will help create, directly or indirectly, the equivalent of 2,300 full time jobs and be adding £134m a year to our economy.

Many artists and art forms are currently constrained by the limitations of the centuries-old buildings where performances take place. The Factory Manchester will be an artist-led space, a new kind of large-scale venue fit for the 21st Century and capable of holding a MIF style performance every week, year on year. It will have the flexibility and technical sophistication to enable a huge range of work across different art forms and popular culture to be presented to reach the widest possible audiences.

Crucially, it will also enable and indeed encourage work with emerging technologies and new media – making it fit for the art of the future as well as the most innovative current work of today. The Factory Manchester will complement existing cultural gems such as the Whitworth Art Gallery, the soon to open HOME and the already successful Lowry and Bridgewater Hall – which together with the BBC make up the dynamic creative ecology of Greater Manchester.

In naming this new arts space as ‘The Factory Manchester’, the city is paying tribute to the cultural legacy of Factory (Records) which still resonates strongly as a creative influence worldwide. Factories are of historic importance to Manchester and this will be a venue for creative production, a place where art will be made, a factory for art that respects the city’s past whilst propelling it forward.


The announcement confirms the Government’s endorsement of the strategy. The next phase involves more detailed work and the Council looks forward to working with local and national partners to shape the funding plan so the ambition to open by 2019 can be realised.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester has a thriving creative industries sector and culture plays a central role in our growth strategy. The arts are not just a major employer in their own right but help us to develop, attract and keep talented people and is a fundamental element of a city where people choose to live and work. The Factory Manchester will also feed the increasing demand for arts as the city continues to grow and provide a Northern base for those wanting to work in the creative industries to grow their skills.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries, said: “Manchester, at the heart of a wider region, has unique potential to become the cultural counterweight to London that the UK needs for successful economic and creative growth. Today’s announcement is a tremendous leap towards realising that vision.”

Tom Bloxham MBE, Chair of Manchester International Festival (MIF), said: “The Factory Manchester will be a new kind of large-scale venue comparable in scale to London’s Coliseum connected to one side of a Tate Modern Turbine Hall-type structure. As well as providing a new home base for MIF, it will commission and welcome innovative works from companies and artists around the world. Like MIF, it will attract ground-breaking and pioneering works which might not otherwise come to the North of England, or even the UK, and the concept is in many ways born from MIF. This is great news for MIF and for Manchester.”

Michael Ingall, CEO of Allied London, said: “The Factory Manchester will play a powerful part in the creation of St Johns. There will be several important complementary parts to this new neighbourhood and all these parts will come together to create a purpose and a soul, with culture, art and performance mixed with enterprise to create a very exciting place to be and to live and work.”

Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “I am delighted to today give Government support to this major new cultural and theatrical space in Manchester. I have always said that culture is a key part of the Northern Powerhouse. I think that the name that has been suggested is absolutely brilliant. The Factory is Mancunian to the core.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Director of the Arts Council said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s recognition that culture is one of the drivers of regional growth and the northern powerhouse. This development will add significantly to the UK’s capacity to break new ground in arts and culture, and create new and innovative work for audiences locally, nationally and internationally. Combined with an already strong cultural and media infrastructure, Greater Manchester and the wider north can become a place where permanent and successful careers in the creative industries are a reality for many more people. We look forward to working with all partners on this exciting project to ensure this is a sustainable proposition for the whole arts ecology.”

More details will be announced soon.

Manchester Tourism Awards: Small Tourist Event of the Year sponsored by Verdure floral design

This year’s awards ceremony took place at the National Football Museum. We had a very enjoyable evening in the company of some lovely people: from Kendals, the soon to be opened Gotham Hotel and staff from Marketing Manchester.

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Shortlisted in our category were:

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.

Hard Rock rising.

T20 Blast Emirates Old Trafford.

Ramsbottom Festival.

It was very exciting to be shortlisted and Ann-Marie and I joked about getting the lipstick on so we’d be ready to accept our award. However, we were fairly sure we hadn’t won. We were sat between Jane and Rachael from Marketing Manchester who surely must know who the winners were and yet were very vague about our event. We also felt we were up against some tough opposition. I turned to Ann-Marie, “I don’t think we’ve won, I’m not getting the right vibe off Jane.” She replied, “No, neither do I,” (great poker faces girls!).

We put the lipstick on (just in case and because we thought we might as well get a buzz out of the build up to the announcement).

And the winner is…

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.


Arghhh… There was a lot of squealing as we headed for the stage.

What a great feeling… to be recognised for our efforts.

photo 1

It really is a great event to work on.  We love working with such talented creative people. We love to hear our audience say things like… “I’d no idea there were so may beautiful things in the world”. We love all the people who help us to deliver the show. It feels like there is a great momentum pushing Manchester onward and upward. It is a fantastic city and we’re so proud to be a small part of what makes it so great: its talent, its creativity and its energy.

To everyone who has helped us along the way and you know who you are… A huge thanks.

Angela and Ann-Marie


Workshop results for the symposium: Building the market for collectors of contemporary craft in the North West

Building the market for collectors of contemporary craft in the North West.

Image by Chris Payne
A bit chilly, maybe, but studio 6 at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair was a hotbed of ideas and discussion this October.

The North West Craft Network organised the symposium BUILDING THE MARKET FOR COLLECTORS IN THE NORTH WEST in conjunction with Great Northern Events, who are the brains behind the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.

We had four mini-workshop sessions addressing how we can build the market for collectors of contemporary craft. The results are published here. Lots of interesting stuff to absorb and digest, but it is noticeable that marketing features strongly in the section about what we should do, and building relationships (even, in one case, facilitated by sherry), comes over strongly in the ‘what has worked’ section.
Great to get together curators, makers, policy makers, agencies, collectors, directors and more to put out heads together and see what we can do.

The workshop results will feed into the future plans for the North West Craft Network so watch this space for the group’s next steps.

Workshop 1
Ideas: practical to aspirational; general to specific

Do some research is needed into why the non-purchasing attendees of crafts fairs don’t purchase. They’re obviously interested in craft, but could we investigate what is holding them back from buying?

Acknowledge snobbery
Getting craft from local makers on TV shows
Craft needs marketing
Craft Magazine on wrong shelf
Posters in public places
Cinema adverts
Get Art Schools to carry the ‘craft’ brand
We need to talk to brand and advertising and TV
Prada trusted brand – do we need a brand?
Have large brands advocate individual makers like they do with designers!!
Brand confidence
Raise awareness through a popular medium – Television – there’s too much cooking and baking!
More high profile personality to advocate
Use the word ‘Design’. Poor craft connotations are negative
Crafts mag off bottom shelf – should be with designer mags
How do we tap into brand led society
Grayson Perry – clear honest presentation
Sponsorship of craft exhibition by fashion design house

Show people it is not intimidating
Take time to talk to visitors
Talk about what you are wearing and what you buy
Wear what you buy
Communicate quality and craft stories to a wider audience (currently non-buyers)
Exhibit stories of why people craft (ordinary people)
Stress the ‘renaissance of quality’ in handmade items

Respect for makers
Communicate the crafters personality
Create aspirational pieces within my work
Be visible as a maker

Too few outlets for the region
Emphasis on degree/MA shows and further this to advocate and promote craft – free space
Taking craft to different levels by curating different shows and kinds of retail shows
Curate exhibition on a range of platforms
Have opportunities to bring related craft alongside Art/Craft exhibitions
New venues for new audience

Architects collaboration
Collaboration – bring in other institutions
Support each other and work to create opps!
Can galleries help? USA?
Networks – talk to people

Be an advocate for craft

Learn a craft yourself?
Direct engagement
Buy, buy, buy!

Curating exhibitions in a new way to attract new audiences
Promote work that is not only your taste
Seeing craft in different venues
When buying something from GNCCF, seller to give a card, saying something like ‘congratulations, you are now a collector’
Try to bring the fashionista’s market to craft
Mini craft shows with makers in office blocks

Stories of why people buy
Talks lectures – interior designers
Gallery: Talks and events for our public about craft
Re: Gallery Sector: Educate the public on the levels of training and emotional input that makers put in
How to value time

Workshop 2
What has brought great engagement, sales or audiences?
What is your experience?

Positive attitude
Being engaging and likable
Being a good/nice person
Being approachable
Passion about your work
Authentic as a person – authentic work
Creating good work

Building a relationship with the customer
Building up relationships over time
You tell the story of the piece
Personal connection – hearing it straight from the maker
Sharing your story
Telling a story about my work – NOT sell the work
One on one conversation
Engaging with the audience – creates market
Never questioning my audience’s ability to understand or relate to my work
Want to be a friend of the maker/artist
Being there with your work and information the viewer

Social media
Digital portfolio
Website and marketing
Mailing list
New pieces of work promoted well.

Lecturing and demonstrations
Raising awareness of skill and creativity

Persistence – trying all avenues – not giving up
Repeating something – perseverance
Being visible and getting out there
Exposing friends to craft who wouldn’t normally buy craft

Exhibitions that are accessible
Get your work out there
Galleries are a barrier?
Finding the audience
Group exhibitions
Meeting the audience!
Gallery shop: Running events for people on our mailing list to come for private views to buy craft
Finding the right audience for your work

Let people help you
Networks for makers for mutual support
Engagement with focused makers to get involved with

Showing craft in the gallery space, presented as wearable art. Art/Jewellery crossover
Exhibiting art and craft together. This is an important route to getting the considerable audience for “art” to cross-over into critically engaged “craft”.
New events, fresh ideas for events, unusual locations
Immerse yourself in the commercial world
Public collections – allow public PR: open interpretation

Mentoring (both as mentor and mentee) appropriate to your stage of career

Endorsement by major galleries e.g. exhibitions

Do we have to differentiate between buyers and collectors?

Sherry for customers
Friends groups and patron groups
Showing that they are buying local

Workshop 3

Be a proactive maker

The value of buying something original
Enrichment of life

Talk to people and share my knowledge and experience
15 years of experience
Time and conversation at shows

Meet up to set up group
Build confidence of collectors as strong-minded independent thinkers

Opportunities for makers to meet potential customers
A platform for artists/makers and public to come together
Exhibitions – the opportunity to bring audiences and buyers together through events
Galleries could obviously offer shows and artists workshops and talks
Space in gallery shops and display cases
Open days where makers are there to speak through work at galleries
Curated and promoted contemporary shows to promote contemporary craft
Exhibition space

Using social media to promote contemporary craft
Shared mailing list clients
Share mailing lists Northwest

Workshop 4

Positive energy
Makers to be amazing self publicists (like Louise!)

Radio /TV presence
TV coverage showcasing workshops and makers
Strong digital audience
Making connections – more symposiums – more talking encouraging others to meet and discuss – common passion
More association

Maker support

Access to collectors (to develop the market need to understand the current market)
Invading the commercial world
An audience that is interested
We need an audience

More time and resources!
A job that pays – more opps for curators
Arts Fund awareness
Other ways to generate income

As a fine art curator I need educating about craft
Talks about how a piece could change their like
Promote long terms benefits for collectors
Potential buyers to be educated
Lectures from makers open to the public

Opportunities to connect with makers
More events in the NW
A secondary market
To support and promote for contemporary craft
Collectors group – share work
Open studios/meet the maker/local

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


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