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  • Thought of the Forest, Toru Kurokawa. Photo: Courtesy sokyo gallery

Eight thıngs we’ve learned about Collect 2017

Do you want to know what’s going on at this year’s fair? 

Crafts magazine gives you the lowdown in an extract from the Crafts Guide to Collect

Collect is back, with a host of familiar names

After a year away, Collect returns to London’s Saatchi Gallery from 2-6 February. And while there’s plenty that’s new, there’s also a reassuringly familiar element. A panel of experts – including designers Tord Boontje and Peter Ting, Antonia Boström (keeper of European sculpture, metalwork, ceramics and glass at the V&A), gallery owner Sarah Myerscough and Annie Warburton (creative director of the Crafts Council) – has selected 37 galleries. Previous visitors to the show will recognise names such as Katie Jones, Ruthin Craft Centre, Galerie Marzee, Gallery S O, Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections, The Scottish Gallery and London Glassblowing Gallery to name just a few… 

However, there is plenty of fresh blood, too

In total there are 11 new galleries on show, a few of which will be displaying some rather unusual things. Books, for instance, aren’t the type of objects generally associated with the fair; however, Designer Bookbinders is promising to change all this. Meanwhile, Sokyo Gallery from Japan will be presenting ceramics based on the Mingei movement, and, as its name suggests, MADEINBRITALY will be displaying contemporary applied art from Italy and Great Britain, including work by the likes of Andrea Salvatori. Look out too for the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, which has a mission to promote and inspire women economically and socially across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as South East and Central Asia, by selling work that uses a combination of traditional skills and contemporary technologies. 

The show will also contain a bunch of new features

And we’d particularly like to draw your attention to Collect Spotlights. Essentially, a handful of galleries have been selected to exhibit experimental work displayed in innovative ways that seeks to challenge, excite and create discussion around the aisles of the fair. They include Flow Gallery, which will be showing work by the ceramic and film artist Katie Spragg, as well as Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA) and Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections, which have joined forces to create an installation of hanging textiles by Rita Parniczky, entitled Clearing. Meanwhile, Sarah Myerscough has brought together David Gates and Helen Carnac, who are working on pieces that combine wooden structures with vitreous enamel detailing. 

X-ray Crystal Series, Rita Parniczky (Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections and CAA). Photo:

Importantly, too, Collect Open has got bigger and better

Collect Open showcases the more conceptual side of craft, often from up-and-coming makers. This year’s 14-strong line-up was selected by a panel headed by designer Faye Toogood. Highlights are numerous (and choosing is probably invidious); however, we’re intrigued by the collaboration between textile artist Fay McCaul and jeweller Kia Utzon-Frank, who are making a free-standing, sculptural screen that curves through the gallery, inviting visitors to sidle around it and stand within its folds. Other names worth checking out include glass artist Shelley James, cutting-edge jewellery maker Silvia Weidenbach and ceramist Malene Hartmann Rasmussen

There promises to be a lively talks programme

Which will cover everything from connoisseurship to craft on TV, with speakers worth listening to including furniture-maker Sebastian Cox, curator Brian Kennedy and glass artist James Maskrey. 

There’s even an auction

The Crafts Council Benefit Auction features works donated by a number of high-profile makers and artists – think Edmund de Waal, Tord Boontje and Grayson Perry. Proceeds will go towards raising funds to transform the Crafts Council’s public space to create a new home for making in London. You can see all the donated pieces on the first floor of the Saatchi Gallery. 

It’s Showtime at Collect

A new show from the Crafts Council will celebrate the rich history of the organisation’s exhibitions, presenting a display of extraordinary posters from its archive, as well as a selection of objects from classic exhibitions such as Industry of One, Power of Making, Objects of Our Time and The Craftsman’s Art. Showtime will also highlight the Crafts Council’s ambitions for the future of its exhibitions and acquisitions.

And last, but by no means least

Collect will give visitors the opportunity to see its new and rather exciting acquisition to its national collection of contemporary craft: two tapestries by Grayson Perry. Essex House Tapestries: The Life of Julie Cope were made as part of a suite of works for A House for Essex, designed by Perry and the now sadly disbanded architecture firm FAT. They tell the story of an imaginary woman Julie, whose biography Perry has written in a long poem and which also provides a social history of Essex since the Second World War. The Crafts Council has commissioned a special audio recording and visualisation of The Ballad of Julie Cope, which will form part of the presentation at the fair. It all sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? 

Photo: katie hyams and living architecture. Grayson Perry sits in front of one of the Essex House Tapestries acquired by the Crafts Council

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