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A blog charting the progress of COLLECT Open artists

COLLECT Open is a platform created for artists to explore new ideas at COLLECT 2015. This blog will chart the progress of these artists.

Making Enhanced - Words by Helen Kearney
6 May 2015

After weeks of research, drawing, making, fundraising, building, writing, we are finally exhibiting at COLLECT. As a collective, Making Enhanced is showing new work that is the product of close collaborations between people of different disciplines: between designers/makers and writers/historians. This work is not quite finished- our show is a ‘Work in Progress’, and in that spirit we will be staging crits throughout the period COLLECT is on, with craft experts, designers, professors, curators, and more. And we want to hear from you too.

Visitors to our exhibition will see work from four pairs, which each explore particular themes.  We have Helen Kearney and the design and architecture collective PUG, whose project deconstructs the language of the Houses of Parliament in a critique that asks whether the buildings of parliament enable or prohibit democracy. A timely consideration for an exhibition opening the same day as a general election…

Soersha Dyon and Jennifer Grey are putting together a ‘Portrait of Marie Palluau’, a merchant’s wife who died in April 1548 in Paris, prompting an inventory of her belongings to be drawn up. The project considers the materials and typologies of the objects in the inventory, staging a new representation of their forms and materials to reimagine what an interior from this period may have looked like, and to create an experience which echoes the inventory in a jumble of materials and object shapes from the period.

Justine Boussard and Alice McClean, as local residents of Peckham, have investigated the social, material, and mythological history of Peckham Rye, and are now presenting it to other local residents and passers-by through objects, poems, and other material that can be taken up by others. They are constructing a knowledge of the past in the present, in an effort to better help us engage with what the future of this rapidly gentrifying area might bring. 

Betsy Lewis-Holmes and Tamsin van Essen – both coming to the project with research interests in the body – are exploring the rituals surrounding health and beauty, looking at the learned and routine gestures that are made by the body in producing and transforming itself. They are considering the performative use of tools, potions and pills in the daily pursuit of cosmetic and bodily perfection, from the Victorian era to today. 

As well as investigating the subject of their research, each of the pairs are exploring what it means to work together with people who have completely different methods, ways of constructing ideas, and final products. The work combines efforts of people who make, with people who write- and the results may be objects, texts, or something else entirely. We are keen to talk about our work, to have our ideas pushed and prodded during the period of COLLECT- come down and join in!



Kate Maestri
1 May 2015

It’s A London Thing…

I am a London artist. London is an urban landscape that is not characterised by any particular architectural style; having accumulated its buildings during different historical periods, as it evolved into a modern megacity.

Any journey through London bestows a parade of sculptural architectural shapes and forms; light and shade, solid and void. There is one visual language that I am particularly attuned to. To me the work of Denys Lasdun is the most beautiful. The cubic towers, bare concrete and hovering slabs he created for buildings such as the Royal College of Physicians, SOAS and the University of Education are uplifting, eloquent and utopian. The National Theatre, which I pass everyday as I go to and from my studio, is an icon of modern architecture.

My central precept for public art is that it should be site specific and integrated into the architecture. My large-scale projects are part of the structure and formation of the building rather than something that is applied later. I work in close collaboration with architects, engineers and fabricators; and aspire to produce work that responds to the architecture with affinity, modesty and purity. 

Structural, curved glass balustrade, The Sage, Gateshead. Architect, Foster + Partners.

My hand-made gallery pieces provide a space to experiment and pursue new ideas. Again architecture is a recurring motif. In parallel to my public art the ambition is to present work that is uncontrived and unadorned: Stained glass that appears to float, glowing colours that are intrinsic rather than applied. In turn the gallery pieces influence the large-scale commissions.  

Kate Maestri, Untitled (Blue), 1000mm x 300mm x 300mm, Perspex and Stained Glass, 2011.

Glass installation, Portman Square, London. Architect, Jestico + Whiles, 2013.

COLLECT Open has been a platform to push boundaries of scale and technique; to go beyond the outer limits of the material. Previous wall-sculptures have delivered unframed light and colour utilising flat sheets of stained glass. The new work is an exacting exploration of form that cantilevers outwards in three dimensions; replying to the National Theatre’s tectonic corners and angled struts.

Sketches illustrating design process of new work for Collect Open.

Sketches illustrating design process of new work for Collect Open.

Concrete is widely used for foundations, flyovers, pipes and footings. The National Theatre exploits the basic nature of concrete; the raw, unpretentious honesty of the material. My wall sculptures are also enhanced by the properties of commercial materials. Previous work has used Perspex to provide ‘invisible’ structure. For COLLECT Open I have worked with aluminium box section that has been crafted and painted by hand.

Section of model for wall sculpture at Collect Open



Infinity - Words by Cristina Vezzini
22 April 2015

Infinity is a collaborative installation by Valeria Nascimento, Sheng Tsang Chen and Cristina Vezzini: three artists who share a profound affinity with nature and reflect this in their respective artistic visions. 

For COLLECT Open 2015, we have taken on this challenge of creating a 5m long ceramic and glass wall installations which consists of more than 5000 components. 

This has been a unique opportunity to work with fellow artists and thinking creatively has enabled all of us to form a concept that collectively and individually represents our artistic styles. 

Valeria’s work is about repetitive sequencing with separate porcelain elements to form a cohesive sculptural group and she works principally with large wall and suspended installations projects. While Cristina and Sheng’s handmade lighting and glassware express their affinity with nature by encapsulating forms created in fine bone china and glass. Their works are characterized by an intense use of cuts and textures on both glass and ceramics to create layered patterns similar to natural scenery.

For our COLLECT Open installations our shared loved for nature is translated it into finely crafted, organic forms of our own imagination.  And it is the minute variations between the repeated forms – each individually crafted – that give them life.

Infinity is a wall installation that verges towards nature and abstraction stimulating the viewer’s imagination. 

It is composed of hundreds of porcelain, bone china and glass, cups; natural elements, unfolding across the wall giving these cohesive compositions an ethereal sense of weightlessness. Ceramic and glass cascade downwards with gay abandon, forming clusters and random patterns similar to those found in nature.

Infinity is not only a celebration of natural world but a celebration of the innate qualities of our respective mediums: porcelain, bone china and glass. 

Ceramics and glass, both being malleable materials, create an extensive range of possibilities and, like the structures in nature, have both strength and fragility. 



Making Enhanced - Words by Helen Kearney
16 April 2015

Making Enhanced is a collective of designers and historians who are, together, working on projects that explore the potential of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Our work is about bringing our own particular crafts- whether that be inscribing words on a page; making with our hands; drafting CAD-images; embarking on philosophical musing, or delving into archival sources – into contact with each other via shared interests. So each cross-disciplinary pair has taken on one particular subject matter to explore in depth, setting our own briefs and producing new work. The images shown here are hints of the collaborative work undertaken so far, and show part of the making process.

As a group we come from different backgrounds: 12 individuals from the practices of architecture, design, jewellery, curation, writing, history and ceramics. The work we will show at COLLECT relates to themes including those of health and ritual; buildings and politics; place and urbanism; decorative materials and concepts of authenticity in exhibition. Although much of this is far-reaching, or even possibly disparate, we have one thing in common: we are all researchers.

Our collaborations have been going now for a few months, but we feel like we’re still near the beginning of what will be a much larger project. Our process so far has been experimental and highly iterative, and we want our show at COLLECT to be a key part of this – it isn’t just about showing our work, it is about exposing our processes, and about engaging in debate about our work. Our COLLECT show will be a true ‘Work in Progress’ Show; we want to use it to extend outwards the iterative process, to you- we want you to engage with our work, to challenge us, to help us take risks, to open up debates and to respond to our ideas. For us, this is about learning, developing our practices, surprising ourselves. But we also want to inspire others to skill-share and begin projects that challenge them to step outside their comfort zone.

So much for our goals for the project, and for our WIP show at COLLECT… but here we are now, only a few short weeks to gather our ideas for COLLECT, and work is gathering to a frantic pace. Right now we’re in the moment just before: our ideas are there, crits have been given, making has begun, designs for the exhibition layout are being finalised. Everything is so close, so exciting, so nerve-wracking. This is the moment when as a group we’re drawing to an extreme degree on each of our own skills, each contributing to the project in a different way. Some of us are making films, others are building exhibition frameworks, others are taking photographs and writing blog entries. At this point, as we’re dashing head-first into the excitement of COLLECT and the great opportunity that it affords us, we are not completely sure what it will all look like in the end. But we do know it will be a great few days.



Katrin Spranger
10 April 2015

The Future of Apis Meliferra 

As a part of COLLECT open 2015 I  am designing and creating a 3D printed jewellery sculpture made from dehydrated edible honey. The piece deals with the issues of bee decline and in particular the alarming Colony Collapse Disorder.

Visualisation of the sculpture, CAD file made by Julian Sing

Within the design, I have used visual representations of ‘the food chain’ and elements of traditional adornment, symbolising the presence and history of jewellery whilst referring to its future applications. Drawing on perceived values of precious metals and the continuous esteem of traditional jewellery materials, gold is compared to honey.

The work aims to communicate that honey is not merely honey, but ‘pollination’ that is responsible for more than half of our food supplies.  

Chain section with bee motif, 3D printing progress, by Julian Sing

For the duration of the fair, the installation will remain untouched. However, on the last day, the COLLECT audience will be invited to interact with, experience and taste the installation. 



Rita Parniczky
30 March 2015

As one of the artists selected to exhibit at COLLECT Open 2015, I am currently hand-weaving to the largest scale I have ever woven of my translucent material X-Ray Fabric. 

In X-Ray Fabric I show what we do not see in most textiles: the singular thread of the vertical warp and the horizontal weft, and the inside structure they form and hide underneath the surface. My interest is to explore this invisible world and show what I imagine to exist if the fabric was x-rayed. Concentrating on the warp, I reveal and manipulate it to draw intricate patterns in a unique new way.

When light travels through X-Ray Fabric some patterns become more visible and the material glows as woven glass. As the light changes throughout the day X-Ray Fabric continuously transforms to appear ever so different. 

Pleated X Ray Fabric Pleat Series, Rita Parniczky

At COLLECT Open I will be presenting three panels installed as one large scale panel away from walls enabling viewers to walk around and observe the piece from both sides. The patterns are inspired by the architectural details of The Houses of Parliament, in particular, I recall structures such as fan vaults when constructing the three panels.

X Ray Fabric Crystal, Rita Parniczky