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Collect Open: New Conversations

Collect Open, supported by Sanlam UK, offers a unique opportunity to individual artists or collaborations to exhibit alongside world-class galleries at Collect. In the run up to the fair we’ll be looking at the themes explored by the artists and collectives who are producing 12 new ambitious craft-led installations for this year’s Collect Open.

This week we look at the new conversations being initiated at Collect Open. New projects explore poignant and relevant themes - from the effects of Dementia to the current climate crisis – that effect society, today.


Lorraine Robson - Dementia awareness 

HEAR ME SEE ME HOLD ME SHAKE ME HIT ME BLOW ME by Lorraine Robson, builds on a previous body of her work funded by Creative Scotland that explores the ideas of lost memory - Vascular Dementia in particular. The artist aims to continue raising Dementia awareness through sculptural ceramics to encourage dialogue, specifically to highlight creativity’s positive effect on those living with diagnosis.

My installation is intended as tribute to those that inspired it. Using found objects to create new forms opens up future work development possibilities in an exciting new direction adding to my very personal sculptural vocabulary.

Using red glaze (the colour significant as direct reference to Vascular) and white earthenware slip, the installation of 70+ plaster moulds of a single borrowed instrument - a Maraca, used by mum in her Residential Care Home during a live music event - will be hung in a considered arrangement along 5m wall length suggesting language/music with the “instruments” to play the altered casts from the same mould, suspended in front.


Paula Reason - Personal environements 

Paula Reason builds on her background as an architect to explore, through textiles, the relationship that we have with the spaces that we occupy.  She believes that people who make things potentially have a closer connection to things and this can heighten the connection that they have with their surroundings. 

Her project looks at the spaces of three people who have spent a lifetime engaged in craft. Three established craftspeople from a variety of backgrounds and experiences were selected as subjects for the work:

Kate Fedden, artist and glass engraver, has spent her life supporting and nurturing her family in their craft endeavours while at the same time carving out time and space for her own work.  She is now at the point where she has physical space for her work but says that with age, she now doubts her own contribution to art and craft.  This, however, is totally contrary to what her living space expresses about her and her contribution to craft. 

Diana Springall is a renowned textile artist, teacher and collector.  Her 17th Century Old Barn Studio has provided a source of income by offering short stays and teaching as well as an inspirational source for Diana’s own work.  Diana is now at the stage of collating, ordering and passing on the accumulation of years of working in textiles. This room seems to hold onto the layers of time, though there is an awareness of transitory nature of the space.

Michael Brennand-Wood is internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles.  A few years ago, Michael lost his studio.  It was a ghastly time for him in many ways.  Since then he as has been trying to build a new studio.  The piece explores what made the old studio so special and captures the essence of the old studio into the new.  

Paula meticulously records and draws these spaces, at a scale of 1:5, using the architectural conventions of plans and elevations which will be translated in to an installation of sculptural silk machine embroidered panels.

It is a drawing method that I have used all of my professional life. It allows me to remove my own perspective from the observation of these spaces, helping me to step into the shoes of the occupiers of the space."


Jacky Oliver - Grow your own

Celebrating edible gardens (gardening where plants are grown to eaten), allotments and guerrilla gardening, metalworker Jacky Oliver aims to create a piece which focuses on a return to the concept of growing your own and making use home grown products for home cooked food in response to the environmental challenges the world is currently facing.

The work is research led, using documents such as maps of allotments, dig for victory booklets and seed sowing charts from the Garden Museum, Haringey Museum and other archives, along with more personal evidence from the past such as handwritten recipes. 

The work intends to be multi-layered – it can be appreciated simply for its aesthetic qualities and the quality of skilled craftsmanship, to the narrative of the growing of food, preparing and cooking it, and additional the environmental issues that comes with that.

In keeping with the juxtaposition of old and new, I hope to create a piece that makes use of varied archive material as well as contemporary references.

Including statistics about food consumption and its distribution, maps of air miles travelled by food, through to contemporary recipes handwritten by cooks from all generations, the results anticipate the contemporary choices of food both to grow and cook would be more global in this installation – raising relevant questions about how we source, transport, produce and prepare food and what effect these have on the world today.


For your chance to see the works featuring in this year’s Collect Open, purchase your ticket to Collect and gain access to the 12 new ambitious craft-led installations from 27 February to 1 March at Somerset House. 

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