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Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Touchstones Rochdale

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft. Visit to Touchstones Rochdale

First stop was Touchstones Rochdale where I met with Art Gallery Officer and Curator Yvonne Hardman and she kindly showed me around the galleries and behind the scenes.

Touchstones Rochdale brings together an art gallery, museum, heritage gallery, local studies centre, education space, shop and café with a dynamic exhibition and events programme. The art gallery collects and regularly shows contemporary craft by some of the UK’s leading artists.

Yvonne and I discussed the story of how this group of objects came to be part of Touchstone Rochdale’s collection and we thought about how we might choose an artist for Ornament. The conversation revealed some interesting themes including the significance of the piece at the time it was made, when it was purchased and now.

The artist we both agreed on is Junko Mori. Her piece owned by Touchstones Rochdale is called Propagation Project: Super Jumbo Nigella, Wave.


Image courtesy of Junko Mori and Adrian Sassoon

Made in 2011 from Forged Mild Steel and then Wax Coated, this is Mori’s largest piece of work to date created at her studio in North Wales. Incorporating the repetition of an organic form, it also echoes the nature of a wave and was created as a response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Mori’s native Japan.

This piece of Junko Mori’s work was awarded to Touchstones Rochdale through Art Fund Collect 2012, a competition for curators at the Craft Council’s international fair for contemporary objects supported by the Art Fund.

The assembling of multiples of forged metal is the key to Junko Mori’s work. Her observations of nature, here the petals of the Nigella plant, are the driving force behind her sculptures which vary in scale from small objects in precious metals such as silver to large scale pieces in steel as in this case.


Propagation Project: Super Jumbo Nigella, Wave will feature in Ornament as part of GNCCF 2014 and then return to Touchstones Rochdale to be featured in an exhibition called A Common Ground from 13 December 2014 – 7 March 2015. This will feature more of Junko Mori’s work alongside ceramics by Ikuko Iwamoto and jewellery by Kayo Saito.

Organism 01

Junko Mori and Touchstone Rochdale are part of:

Ornament: Collecting Contemporary Craft

The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

9th-12th October

Old Granada Studios


Touchstones logo (2)

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Introducing ‘Ornament’

Ornament is an exhibition of collectible craft by some of the UK’s most eminent artists.

Ann-Marie and I have always collected words.. Searching for the perfect alternative name to give our show…

One day the word ‘Ornament’ appeared on the list. We loved it and decided to save it for something special.

From Middle English ornament, from Old French ornement, from Latin ornamentum (“equipment, apparatus, furniture, trappings, adornment, embellishment”), from ornare (“to equip, adorn”). It embodies all that is contemporary craft.

Some people think that contemporary means plain and simple without ornamentation. Some people don’t like the word. It reminds them of the tasteless, shoddy ornaments of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Some people argue that ornament is always dictated by fashion and therefore destined to become ‘old-fashioned.’

Completely undeterred by all such comments (because we both loved the word equally and when we agree on something we are ‘a force to be reckoned with’), Ann-Marie and I have reclaimed ‘Ornament’ and given it the respect it deserves. It’s a word with grandeur. It doesn’t have to be highly embellished but it can be. It doesn’t have to be part of a collection but it can be. It can be contemporary, it can be traditional, and it can be a mix of both.

We’re looking forward to Ornament becoming a regular feature of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and seeing how the word is interpreted. With ‘Ornament’ there is always a story to be told..

Angela Mann

The Curator of the very first Ornament exhibition is Kelda Savage and here she tells the story of her journey and gives you a  taste of the exhibition that will take place in Studio 2, Old Granada Studios in Manchester from 9-12 October.

Ornament aims to help build the market for collectors through exposure and education. The exhibition will celebrate the wealth of work on display in the North-West and encourage visitors to engage with contemporary craft across the region.

Since the end of May I have been traveling around the North-West visiting museums, galleries, universities, retail spaces and private collections all of whom hold excellent examples of contemporary craft. These collections were the starting point for Ornament.

I have visited  a collector’s home in Manchester and seen collections held by  The University of ManchesterManchester Metropolitan University, Blackwell: The Arts & Crafts House, The Harris MuseumGallery Oldham, Touchstones Rochdale and The Bluecoat Display Centre.

I have met with curators and collectors to look at objects and discuss the stories of the people who made them. We have marvelled at the artist’s expertise of techniques, skills and materials and revealed histories of the collections or individuals who purchased them and why. Appropriate artists from each collection were identified and  one artist chosen from each to participate in Ornament.

Venues and individuals have kindly loaned pieces from their collections for the exhibition but there will also be work by each artist available for sale. This presents the opportunity for visitors to begin a collection of contemporary craft or add to an existing collection.

I believe that “Understanding the processes of making and the histories of each object will enable visitors to more fully engage with the pieces on view and encourage confidence and desire to own something truly amazing.”

Join me as I share the story of Ornament 2014….

Many thanks to Arts Council England for funding Ornament through the National Lottery Grant for the Arts.