by Laura Snoad
No matter where you’re from, making is a universal drive that transcends nationalities and generations. Even 30,000 years ago our ancestors were experimenting with clay, mixing it with crushed mammoth bone to craft small figurines that have been found in what is now the Czech Republic.
An integral part of Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects, which returns to London Saatchi’s gallery on 22 – 25 February 2018, is its global focus. The fair brings together 40 galleries from four continents, which exhibit museum-quality works and installations from hundreds of the most talented makers in the UK, USA, South Korea, Japan, France, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. It’s a melting pot of ideas, techniques and, best of all, makers.
Here are five galleries to put on your must-see list.
Founded in Milan in 2014 by emerging gallerist Riccardo Sorani, Collect newcomer ESH Gallery specialises in ceramics, metalwork, glass and Urushi lacquer with a special focus on Japanese ideas and aesthetics. Its inaugural exhibition back in Milan compared the mind-bending ceramic grids of Japanese artist Yoichiro Kamei to the boxy geometric sculptures of Italian sculptor Marco Paghera – a perfect example of ESH’s commitment to bringing bold and unexpected craft from Japanese makers to a European audience. Kamei is back again for Collect, presenting his Lattice Receptacle series, which are made through cleverly joining ‘hollows’ formed by slip-casting porcelain. Find his Escher-like ceramics alongside intricate paper carvings by Domitilla Biondi, cut-crystal sculptures by Ōki Izumi, tubular ceramics by Kouzo Takeuchi and much more.
Based in the cosmopolitan Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles, Spazio Nobile commissions experimental pieces from the likes of Tomas Libertiny, Xavier Lust, Antonio Lampecco and Vincent Fournier. For Collect it’s dedicating its entire space to a solo show by Belgium’s most famous ceramicist Piet Stockmans. His ‘Stockmans blue' (made by combining porcelain slip and blue cobalt) has won him renown worldwide and Piet celebrates the 30th anniversary of his studio this year. “Piet’s contemporary vision and mindset is so important,” says Spazio Nobile’s Lise Coirier. “How he is evolving with porcelain as his unique medium to express his in-depth concepts and artistic expressions. At the end he is not a potter but a sculptor, a ‘metteur-en-scène’ and poet.” Expect an immersive meditation on the colour blue, from fabric-like dip-died ribbons to immaculate cobalt-edged bowls.
Galleri Format Oslo
Galleri Format Oslo has been exhibiting at Collect for ten years, championing Scandinavian ceramics, metalwork, textiles, glass and wood. “More and more collectors are discovering that contemporary crafts are both affordable and highly innovative,” says the gallery’s Irija Øwre. “There is also a strong new generation of young craft artists emerging right now.” Particularly exciting for 2018 is a showcase of jewellery by Liv Blåvarp, whose bold necklaces and bracelets are crafted from undulating segments of woods and more unusual materials like whale tooth. Be sure to check out her piece Reindeer Heart, made from scarlet-stained maple, briarwood veneer and reindeer horn.
Collection Ateliers D’Art de France
Nestled right in the heart of the Marais, Collection Ateliers D’Art de France’s mission is two-pronged: to present the overwhelming amount of national talent at home and abroad, and to drive the economic development of French craft. There’s a weird and wonderful feel to the gallery’s Collect presence this year, from stoneware and enamel sea urchins by Kaori Kurihara to fungi-like carvings by Alain Mailland. Eccentric textures are also a trend: be sure to check out Karine Benvenuti’s White Scaled Skin ceramics or Ingrid Van Munster’s perfect enamel sphere Passage.
From Anna Sjons Nilsson’s folk art-inspired dolls to Fredrik Nielsen graffiti glass, Stockholm gallery Widell Projects prides itself in exhibiting the breadth of Swedish craft. A particular highlight is Maria Kristofersson’s earthenware ceramics, made using en engobe and given a painterly finish by treating the surface with wax, acrylic and oxide pencils. “Themes that interest Maria are closeness and distance; strength and fragility; lines, surfaces and structures,” says gallery founder Boel Widell Henrikson. “Her ceramic objects could be seen as three-dimensional drawings.” Launched in 2015, Widdell specialises in ceramics and glass (it exhibits one of Sweden’s first glass artists Ulla Forsell) but for Collect this year has also ventured into the world of textiles for the first time.
You can these galleries and more at Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects in London on 22 – 25 February 2018. Tickets start from £14.