On Sunday, I made my way down to not-so -sunny London (or Laaahdaaahn as I like to pronounce it) for Origin: The London Craft Fair. It is the absolute highlight of my working year as it is the one day where I can indulge in my not-s0- guilty, crafty pleasures! Origin to me is like London Fashion Week to Fashionistas. Origin has been running for several years now (I've lost count) and usually it is held at Somerset House in a large tent. However, this year they've changed the venue, moving the fair to Spitalfields Market. It was a good change of scene, situating the makers in a bustling marketplace gave it a less formal atmosphere. BUT - it was FREEZING. Although the fair was sectioned off from the rest of the market, it had no roof - meaning that the poor designer makers had to stand outside for a whole week - with no heating unless they had the foresight to request a plug for their stand. Bad times - Origin, sort it out will ya?
Having my work hat on (I curate exhibitions of contemporary fine craft - another feather to my bow or something), I was on the scout for new exhibitors. But I was also on the prowl for general things that I could afford to purchase - yes, it was a shopping trip really (but don't tell my boss that). As always, I was amazed by the breadth and scope of inspirations, skills and techniques the makers employed in their work. My weaknesses has to be ceramics (I have a collection of small green bowls - rapidly expanding to just, well, small bowls) and jewellery - but this year I was stunned by the amount of beautiful textiles at the show. We're talking hand woven and knitted fabrics and classy felt - none of that twee stuff you find at Christmas Markets. I'm not going to mention ALL of the makers that caught my eye on this post (that would literally take as long to write as my thesis), but I will mention a few highlights:
Belfast-based Derek Wilson's ceramics have been a fave of mine since he exhibited his chic, minimalist pieces at the gallery I work for earlier this year. As well as having an exquisite portfolio of work that includes beautiful and functional tea sets, he is also one of the nicest makers I've ever met. He always sounds enthusiastic and passionate about his work - and forever worrying that he'll run out of stock. Now there are all the signs of a good ceramicist.
Derek Wilson's Tea Set
Jeweller, Ruth Wood, was exhibiting her range of 18ct gold rings, having gained a bursary from the Arts Council to expand and develop her business. I first met her 3 years ago when I first began working with contemporary craft - and her work was the first that absolutely fell for. I have since purchased a couple of her rings for myself and wear my silver one all the time. Her 'Cave' collection is to die for. Comprising mainly of rings, Ruth's collection glistened from afar at Origin. Her silver, gold and gilt pieces incorporated with diamonds, smokey quartz, citrine and a whole other range of stones are little morsels of joy.
Ruth Wood's Cave 3 Stone Treasure Ring
I also bumped into Cathy Miles, who I've only ever known by reputation (good of course!). She is a metal smith who works mainly with wire, making three-dimensional drawings of birds, bees and...teapots! Her quirky and whimsical creations bring out the child in everyone and I couldn't help but have a few giggles at her stand!
Cathy Miles's Wire Work - 'Positive Affirmations'
These were just three of the many, many makers that I met and spoke to on Sunday. Diversity in creativity really is the way forward! I'll mention some more makers at some point later in the week! I fear this may take up more than 2 posts!