The debut exhibition at the new Crafts Council Gallery features the largest ever selection of artworks from the Crafts Council Collection – alongside an edit of exciting objects by up-and-coming craftspeople. Ahead of Maker’s Eye: Stories of Craft (7 July to 9 October 2021), the rising star of furniture design Mac Collins tells us about his already-iconic chair, how good design can be empowering, and the best advice he ever received.
Can you tell us about the piece in the Maker’s Eye exhibition?
Co-curator Christine Checinska chose the original blue edition of my Iklwa Chair. It was my breakout piece in 2018 and got picked up by Benchmark furniture. Since then, I’ve wanted to demonstrate what else I’m capable of, but it’s lovely to have it selected for this show. It’s a piece that will probably be important to me forever.
Why does it mean so much to you?
It came out of my undergraduate dissertation on the roles and responsibilities of Black artists during the Civil Rights Movement compared to today. I’d never examined the Afro-Caribbean side of my heritage. I tried to trace my family’s roots, but couldn’t go past the point of slavery – there were no records. Thinking about these humans being owned by others made me feel powerless and small. So, I created this big, bold chair that would make anyone seated on it feel confident and in control.
What is the meaning behind the Iklwa Chair’s name?
The word 'Iklwa' came from the name for the short spear used by the Zulu while opposing British colonialism in Southern Africa. These Iklwa spears informed the shape of the armrests that pierce through the backrest to protect the sitter.