Phoebe Cummings said: 'I am overwhelmed to have been chosen from such a strong and diverse shortlist. The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize has done a huge amount to raise public awareness and discussion around contemporary craft and the breadth of practice it encompasses. Making work that is ephemeral and performative isn't always the most straightforward path to take, so the recognition and support of the prize will have a big impact in enabling me to continue pushing my work forward. I plan to use the money to make a usable work space at home - no doubt my family will be overjoyed that they can finally reclaim the kitchen table.'
Eschewing conventional practices of producing objects that are then sold through a gallery or shop, Phoebe Cummings has forged a career through commissions for public museums and galleries. She was an Artist in Residence at the V&A in 2010, where she first saw fragments of the (recently restored) 18th-century Meissen Fountain which inspired her piece for the Craft Prize.
The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize was launched in October 2016 by the Crafts Council, BBC Radio 4 and the V&A, in order to celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft makers in the UK. The finalists were selected by 29 expert judges who whittled down over 1,500 applications to 12 finalists all of whom celebrate the possibilities of using particular crafts and skills in different ways.
Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A said: ‘Craft is at the heart of the V&A and central to its purpose, so it was a huge pleasure to judge the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize and for the museum to host the exhibition. The 12 finalists demonstrate an incredible array of talent and breadth, which reveals just how exciting craft practice is today. I have known Phoebe’s work since her 2011 displays in Stoke, and she has grown as an artist and maker. I adore this work’s mix of earthiness and ephemera, quality craftsmanship and elegiac thoughtfulness. We are delighted to award her the Prize.’
Martha Kearney said: ‘At first glance, I was drawn to this stunning profusion of exquisitely wrought flowers. Looking more closely, the course of water eroding the raw clay evokes a beautiful melancholy. Phoebe Cummings’ work is a highly deserving winner for its high concept combined with immense skill, showing how traditional craft techniques can be re-imagined.’
Jacky Klein said: ‘Phoebe's work is rich and multi-layered, both visually and conceptually. Exquisitely crafted yet wistfully self-destructive, it opens up a fascinating dialogue with the history of sculpture, of craft and of ornament - making her a deserved winner of the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize.’