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  • Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars, 2015, on show at Tate St Ives. Photo Christine Clinckx – MHKA

15 craft exhibitions to see in the UK this December

Makers rethink the wheel and bring ceramics back to the city

Here’s our pick of the best craft shows happening across the nation this month. To discover more winter exhibition highlights, check out the latest issue of Crafts magazine

Otobong Nkanga, In Pursuit of Bling: The Transformation, 2014. Photo: Raphael Fanelli

Otobong Nkanga: From Where I Stand

Nigeria-born artist Otobong Nkanga is interested in the politics of the land: how it’s acquired and how it’s owned. For her first UK museum survey, the Belgium-based practitioner – who received a special mention at this year’s Venice Art Biennale – will show a range of tapestries and other works that reflect on the process and consequences of the extraction of natural resources.

Until 5 January at Tate St Ives


Cavaliero Finn gallery is displaying sculptural pieces by eight of the UK’s leading ceramic artists, including Ashraf Hanna, Annie Turner, Matthew Chambers and Akiko Hirai, within the golden Byzantine-inspired splendour of Fitzrovia Chapel.

Until 1 December at Fitzrovia Chapel, London W1T

Gareth Neal, one of three makers featured in Shoulder to the Wheel at the Crafts Study Centre. Photo: John Stokes

Shoulder to the Wheel / Moving Forward: The Crafts Study Centre at 50

Curated by Crafts’ columnist Glenn Adamson, Shoulder to the Wheel commissioned three makers – furniture designer-maker Gareth Neal, master wheelwright Greg Rowland and Institute of Making director Zoe Laughlin – to study a single wagon wheel from the Museum of English Rural Life, then create their own in response. The Craft Study Centre is also celebrating its half century with a year-long exhibition of works chosen by its trustees.

Shoulder to the Wheel until 14 December 2019 / Moving Forward: The Crafts Study Centre at 50 until 15 August 2020, at the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.


Makers with a formal and conceptual interest in natural materials and traditional craft skills are the focus of this exhibition at Sarah Myerscough’s recently opened new gallery in Barnes. See work by ARKO, Laura Ellen Bacon, Sebastian Cox, Tim Johnson, Soojin Kang, Fernando Laposse, Naoko Serino and Caroline Sharp.

Until 31 January at Sarah Myerscough Gallery, London SW13


Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art

An exhibition about the representation of nightlife in art includes a full-scale interpretation of the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna, a space created in 1907 with the aim of challenging the notion of mass production through craftsmanship. The Barbican Centre worked with Vienna’s University of Applied Art to create a full-scale version of its lively tiled interior originally created by Bertold Löffler and Michael Powolny.

Until 19 January at Barbican Centre, London EC2Y

Dazzle: Contemporary Jewellery

This annual exhibition offers work from more than 80 designer-makers, ranging from recent graduates – there’s a strong Glasgow School of Art cohort this year – to long-established professionals.

1 December – 5 January 2020 at the Oxo Tower, London SE1

Jann Haworth – Donuts, Coffee Cups and Comic, 1962. Image: Pallant House Gallery

Jann Haworth: Close Up

The American Pop artist is best known as the co-creator (with Peter Blake) of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover of 1967. Haworth will fill Pallant House Gallery with life-sized textile sculptures of cowboys, fast food and the elderly.

Until 23 February 2020 at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester


Discover how costumes for 20 new productions a year are created on-site by a crew of 46 craftspeople at the National Theatre – adding to its stock of a staggering 90,000 existing costumes that travel to venues nationwide.

Until 27 March 2020 at the National Theatre, SE1

Virginia Leonard, Night-Time Measurements, 2019, one of the objects in Beau-laid at Mason’s Yard. Photo: Oliver King

Rear Window

Curator Brian Kennedy presents a series of exhibitions under the title Rear Window, which explore different attitudes to contemporary creativity. Beau-laid explored the boundaries between the beautiful and the ugly, Parallax considered artists’ varying viewpoints, Florid presents old fashioned extravagances within contemporary art and Repeat will investigate meanings around repetition within abstraction.

Until 20 December at 4 Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y

Faces & Figures in Stitch

This show offers an overview of figurative hand embroidery by students at the Royal School of Needlework, depicting characters ranging from ancient Greek gods to Nelson Mandela.

Until 19 March 2020 at Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey

 Interface Soundscapes, an interactive sound installation by ECAlab

Hand Held to Super Scale: Building with Ceramics

This exhibition celebrates the resurgence of ceramics in contemporary architecture, exploring the loose connection between hand-held ceramic objects and large-scale urban interventions – from the glazed household items that inspire whole building facades to the manufacturers using scaled-up processes familiar to studio potters. Hand-crafted pieces sitting alongside mass ceramic production and robotic technology.

Until 31 January at the Building Centre, London WC1E

Flag made by the Fante people Ghana 1930s on show at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Image: Karun Thakar Collection

African Textiles

A rich body of work from nine African countries, from embroideries, veils and haiks from Tunisia and Morocco to weavings from Nigeria and Ghana, is on show at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, drawn from the Karun Thakar collection.

Until 14 December at SOAS, London WC1H

Change in Attitude

Some 5,000 porcelain black rhino horns, each representing one of the black rhinos left in the world, are free for the taking at Nunnington Hall in North Yorkshire, in ceramic artist Layla Khoo’s response to big game-hunting trophies.

Until November 2020 at Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire

Candace Bahouth, Mirror Mosaic Sneaker, 2019, at the Holburne Museum

Candace Bahouth’s Box of Delights

The mosaicist – who also works in needlepoint and tapestry – brings her trademark riot of colour to the Holburne Museum in Bath with an exuberant installation of glittering mirrors, shoes, and towering candelabras.

Until 5 January 2020 at Holburne Museum, Bath

Renee So: Ancient and Modern

Textiles, furniture and ceramic sculptures exploring the female figure in prehistoric cultures, which were created by Renee So during a residency at West Dean College, are on show in this exhibition.

Until 12 January 2020 at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea

Buy the November/December issue of Crafts magazine here

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