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  • Generation (detail), Doug Jones, 2013. Image courtesy of the artist

Political acts in the making

Berwick Visual Arts puts together an exhibition of socially conscious craft

Bronze chicken feet, riot police rendered in stitched silk thread, and a basket made from juice cartons are just a few of the works in Hidden Agenda – Socially Conscious Craft at the Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed, this March.

With the focus on makers who ‘use craft as a platform for social comment and provocation’, the exhibition is a partnership between Berwick Visual Arts, the Crafts Council and artist Doug Jones. Part of the CC’s Curate With Us programme, the show brings together a wealth of work from the Crafts Council Collection, as well as a new piece by Jones. ‘It draws on the breadth of the collection and for the theme, Berwick has an interesting political history, both with a big P and a little p, so Berwick Visual Arts is the perfect organisation for us to work with to look at that subject,’ explains Annabelle Campbell, the Crafts Council’s head of exhibitions and collections.

Work by Stephen Dixon, Grayson Perry and Paul Scott represents the tradition of satirical ceramics, from Dixon’s comment on Iraq War in Their Finest Hour to Scott’s more recent A Willow for Ai Weiwei, referencing the Chinese artist’s detainment at the hands of the authorities. Elsewhere Michele Walker’s Remember Me is a traditional ‘darts of death’ quilt brought up to date with Breast Cancer Campaign ribbons, while the value of material is questioned in Lois Walpole’s basketry and Michael Marriott’s furniture.

MAD KID'S BEDROOM WALL POT, GRAYSON PERRY, 1996. PHOTO BY NICK MOSS
One of the highlights will be Doug Jones’s Generation, 54 pairs of chicken feet cast in bronze. Jones made the pieces with workers at a foundry in Guangzhou, China, exploring both his interest in collective making and globalisation, the feet reflecting mass production in food and also examining cultural difference across countries.

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