To mark 30 years of supporting excellence in British craft, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) will be exhibiting at Collect for the first time in 2020, showcasing the work of seven QEST Scholars in an exhibition titled ‘Tradition Redressed’. The curated stand will examine the support given by QEST to artists exploring innovation and excellence within craft traditions. The makers will be showing works which interpret traditional crafts or materials in innovative and contemporary ways, pushing boundaries and keeping craft relevant. They are basket weaver Annemarie O’Sullivan, ceramicists Alice Walton and Matthew Warner, mixed-media artist Dorcas Casey, wood turner Eleanor Lakelin, silversmith Grant McCaig and glass artist Kaja Upelj.
QEST CEO Deborah Pocock comments, “QEST’s 30th anniversary in 2020 provides the perfect time for our debut at Collect. We are really pleased to be exhibiting exciting works by seven of our scholars, demonstrating the depth of tradition and innovation in contemporary British craft and the support that QEST can give to craftsmen.”
Ceramicist Alice Walton makes one off original ceramics, exploring complex and intense surface textures over simple forms which have been inspired by street furniture and architecture. The repetitive nature of mark making mimics the constant review of certain objects on daily commutes. For Collect Alice will continue to develop techniques that she developed since leaving the Royal College, creating elaborately textured surfaces from minute ceramic elements that highlight the meditative process of the material. These will be a pair of sculptural objects, one wall mounted, and the other plinth based, inspired by architectural forms.
Annemarie O’Sullivan draws on ancient basket-making techniques and embraces the arts of weaving and binding in her works. As with any craft, continued learning is key, and the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust provided Annemarie with invaluable funding through its D’Oyly Carte Scholarship. In 2016 she visited and trained with some of the best of her contemporaries, including Alexandra Marks in Italy, Les Llewellyn in Wales, Alison Fitzgerald in Northern Ireland, Mary Butcher in Kent and at Villaines les Rochers in France. For Collect she has created a large site-specific architectural woven vessel form that interacts with the historic Somerset House interior.
Sculptor Dorcas Casey reveals the unsettling qualities residing in seemingly benign domestic materials and subjects, creating a tension between her sculptures appearing familiar and comforting, while simultaneously peculiar and uncanny. Her QEST Tom Helme Scholarship is enabling her to undertake 40 days of one-on-one tuition with a renowned sculptor in Dorset where she is learning the ancient craft of lost wax bronze casting. For Tradition Redressed Dorcas will present two sculptures; a jesmonite and found object limited edition of her ‘Iguana on an Ottoman’, and ‘Cockerel’ a textile sculpture created from red leather gloves and antique lace under an antique glass dome incorporating cast bronze elements. Both works evolve from the idea of outmoded, discarded and marginal things returning as powerful presences.
Since 2011 wood turner Eleanor Lakelin has concentrated on the vessel form, studying with established makers whenever possible but largely teaching herself to hollow and carve works of increasing scale and ambition. Her sculptural objects are created using a traditional woodworking lathe and centuries-old chisels and gouges alongside modern carving techniques. Her work is exhibited internationally and held in prestigious museum and private collections. At Collect Eleanor will be presenting Column Vessels from her Echoes of Amphora series. These larger scale works were influenced by her QEST funded residency with wood sculptor Mark Lindquist in Florida.
Silversmith and artist Grant McCaig has an organic approach to finding extraordinary beauty in metals and the idea of function and preciousness associated with materials such as silver. For Collect he has developed a new series of sculptural objects using a combination of precious and non-precious metals; iron and silver. This combination of materials appeals to him as he feels that both carry particular histories and expectations. Revisiting processes that he has worked with before involving the fusion of disparate metals in a very contemporary and exciting way he is developing a new body of work to be launched with QEST at the event.
Kaja Upelj uses glass as her main material to tell poetic stories, and in 2018 she received a QEST Scholarship to attend an intensive course in kiln casting and digital technology at The Corning Museum of Glass in New York. She creates works of colour and light dancing inside the sensual nature of glass. Her pieces are tactile and welcome interaction from the audience, inviting both familiarity and personal connection. Her work for Collect explores an innovative and highly dangerous chemical technique to give iridescent effects in the glass and the resulting series, ‘Subtle Flow’, will be launched at the fair.
Ceramicist Matthew Warner is a London based potter whose work combines clarity of form with the subtle nuances of throwing, creating pieces that are at once familiar yet intriguing, classical and modern. Matthew sees pots as social objects that communicate ideas about lifestyle, status and taste and will be presenting seven teapots which interpret the work of Josiah Wedgewood in a contemporary way.
Collect: 27 February – 1 March 2020
Somerset House, Strand London WC2R 1LA. www.collect2020.org.uk