Monday, 31 October 2011

The Roll Neck Resurrection

Celine A/W 11
I love that fashion always comes back in cycles, reinventing cringe-worthy blasts-from-the-past into the latest must haves. As a cynic, I usually classify these trends as either-

a) Passing fads or
b) Impractical or
c) Ridiculous or
d) Requiring the confidence/body of a supermodel. 

So I was instantly sold when I heard practicality was back in vogue this A/W. The humble parka, knee-high boots and roll neck (you heard me right) sweaters/dresses were firmly in the spotlight. Yes, you can be warm, comfortable and stylish this winter!

The innate paranoia that comes with roll necks is ending up neck-less, double-chinned or more frumpy than fierce. But with the right colour and clever pairing, this is a versatile piece one can rock in real life.

5 of the Best Roll Necks

Navy, teal and burgundy are great alternatives to black, or draw attention with a bright pop of colour like crimson. For the rest of the outfit, choose pieces from the same tonal palette to elongate silhouette. The 1940s style pencil skirt, skinny jeans, leggings or sleek tapered trousers are hot choices right now. Finish off with a parka, blazer, wool trench or my favourite, an ankle grazing duster coat. You can customize your outfit to channel anything from elegant (a la Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, 1957), boyish to highland heritage.
Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, 1957

Kate Jackson (Far left) from Charlie's Angels, 1970s 

The best bit for me is that I’ve had roll necks in my drawers for years. Nostalgia always comes back in style. Not that I needed another excuse not to spring-clean my closet. Oxfam’s loss is my gain.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ceramics in the City (23-25th September) Review

The Geffrye Museum did not strike as an obvious location for ceramics fair. Charting the history of English domestic interiors since 1914, the Grade I listed 18th century Shoreditch almshouses and its preened gardens seemed more fitting as a period drama prop. Then again this was my first visit- appearances can be deceptive.

No sooner had I entered did I find myself in a walking time capsule of lavishly decorated living rooms, from the 16th century to present. Fitted with furniture and decorative arts that were integral and cherished at the time, it dawned upon me. Perhaps this was not such an odd location for a ceramics show. After all, most of us buy ceramics to do just that.

The 3 day selling event in its tenth year, Ceramics in the City’s eclectic selection of 43 potters ranged from the established to emerging talent across the country. Spanned across 3 rooms, the intimacy and informality was immediately apparent- a warm welcome to the stressful crowds and intimidating atmosphere of some exhibitions. There were no airs, moody, straitlaced expressions or pressure to buy (although with many items priced £10-50 it was certainly tempting). Rather it was a friendly meet and greet with makers genuinely passionate about their craft. From vessels, tableware, lighting to figurative, non functional pieces in distinct styles and diverse techniques, there was something different for everyone.  A sense of belonging to the home was the only coherent theme.

Amongst the seasoned ceramicists the works of Claudia Lis, Sue Paraskeva and Ruth King lent a soft, feminine edge to the show.

Lis is known for her celadon-glazed ware imprinted with rust flakes that bleed into pale green glaze. The marks are random yet convey a sense of deliberate precision, while imprints on her aptly titled 'Petri dishes' were reminiscent of spreading bacteria.
Claudia Lis

Sue Paraskeva's wheel thrown bowls were intentionally dropped with heavy objects to cause cracks, which are accentuated with coloured oxides. The relinquishing of control was a refreshing contrast to her previous industrial shapes.

Bulbous curves and geometric lines converged seamlessly like magic in the forms of Ruth King’s pots. Glazed in subdued iridescent greens, browns, blues and lilacs, I would dare anyone to resist the urge to touch the inflated pillow-like shapes.
Ruth King

In terms of pattern Ben Davies and Yo Thom stood out of the crowd. Davies’ university background in geography and geology was apparent in his work. His ‘Stone’ series involves layering slips over coils with marks created by tools, which are scraped back to reveal intricate stone-like surface reliefs. Equally mesmerising were his ‘Strata’ pots characterised with marbled patterns resembling mille-feuille chocolate swirls.
Ben Davies

Yo Thom’s Ai-indigo range of stoneware tableware featured graffito lines over indigo slip and matt white glaze. The variegated blues, elegant markings and unsophisticated forms an effective ode to her Japanese heritage. 
Philomena Pretsell

For a celebratory mood, there was Philomena Pretsell’s playful earthenware creations. Gently poking fun at contemporary culture with her transfers (William and Kate's Royal Wedding memorabilia for instance), gold lustre and cheerful colours, they would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Lou Rota’s animal and botanical transfer plates were also part of the humorous, quirky ceramics on show.                    
Lou Rota
Newcomer Claire Lovett, who graduated in 3D Design from University of Plymouth in 2009, stole the show with her peeling wallpaper vessels. Lovett’s’ paperclay vessels were inspired by the concept of family ancestry and traditional English wallpapers. Like excavated treasured relics passed along generations, they would not have appeared out of place in the museum’s 19th century rooms.

On a whole I felt the presentation could have been more polished-tables with white cloths were a bit too informal and did not do the works justice. It was impossible to compare Ceramics in the City to high profile exhibitions such as Origin, akin to comparing home brewed cider to chardonnay. If you were expecting cutting edge, controversial ceramics you would have left feeling underwhelmed. Ceramics in the City was an understated, no frills event of ceramics to enrich the home and the lives of people in them. Plus it gave the museum’s barren ceramics collection a much needed rejuvenation.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I Left My Heart at Origin Photo Gallery

Choosing the best makers at Origin is like choosing your favourite child. So I've created a photo gallery of Origin exhibitors that caught my eye for your eyes to feast on...enjoy!
Lisa Swerling

Alison Haddon

Pauline Edie

Piret-Eve Kändler

Alex McCarthy

Akiko Hirai
Eileen Gatt
Helen Noakes
Clare Knox Bentham

Polly Horwich

Charlotte Sale
Lucy Sylvester

Aneta Regel Deleu (Photography by Sylvain Deleu)

I Left My Heart at Origin

Last week's London Design Festival (17-25 September) marked the most exciting celebration of creative  design industries worldwide. Hundreds of events were held all over the capital and in case you've missed any of the the action, here's a roundup of my personal highlights. There's still time to visit the V&A's Power of Making and Postmodernism Style and Subversion 1970-1990 exhibitions, which opened during the festival.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, once again Crafts Council brought together the best in contemporary craft in its annual fair origin. This was the second time it took place at Old Spitalsfield Market, a historical, dynamic landmark in the cultural hub of East London. Encompassing a broad spectrum of disciplines from glass, ceramic, jewellery to wood, textiles and paper, I call it the Diagon-Alley of applied arts. A must-go event for craft lovers, designers, students to view and purchase beautifully made items and meet the designers themselves

This year saw iconic department store Liberty curate Liberty Selects display windows around the pavilion. The themed windows were adorned with specially chosen exhibitor pieces, reflecting the fashionable, eclectic and covetable spirit of the store. In addition there was  Lux Craft, a new collaboration with Nokia Design, showcasing innovative lighting by 10 selected makers. Suspended and placed on elevated black platforms in the pavilion's centre, the exhibits gave Origin a cutting edge and space age feel.

It's always great to see fresh talent, new work and exhibitors, which was evident this time. The selection panel- Michelle Alger (Liberty's home and gift buying manager), Yvonna Demczynska (Flow Gallery director), Lee Broom (Product/interior designer), Brigid Howarth (creative industry specialist) and Henrietta Thompson (Wallpaper editor-at-large) have done a commendable job for choosing a good balance of established, up-and-coming and international makers. Regarding the latter, it's not every day one gets to be up close with fantastic American, Japanese, Korean and Estonian craft to name but a few. Their strong cultural influences shape their styles and separate their work from British based designers. 

The works of Korean ceramicist Hyosun Kim and Japanese ceramicist Yoshimi Azuma intrigued me in that although remarkably similar looking, incorporating fused, distorted thrown containers. Both makers look at their native ceramics heritage for inspiration- Kim interprets the translucent qualities of Korean Moon jars and waster forms, while Azuma uses the traditional Japanese Kiyomizu technique.

Hyosun Kim
Yoshimi Azuma
Sophie Woodrow's porcelain creatures charmed me in an instant, reminiscent of the magical monsters in Spirited Away.Weird, amusing and adorably eerie, they were fascinating to look at, not least because of the labour involved- Woodrow painstakingly coils, incises, impresses and builds up the intricate textures of each one.

Sophie Woodrow

Kerry Kastings' stoneware vessels were some of the most amazing ceramics I have seen in a while. She has perfected a technique of adding oxides and carbonates to the clay body, glazing only the inside of the forms. The harmonious zen-exuding sky-like colours are a result of the glaze reacting with the additives in the clay body. A visual marriage made in heaven when paired with the elegant, speckled grey matt exterior.

Kerry Hastings
Kathryn Roberts' blown glass vessels blew me away with their understated elegance. The fluid shapes were illuminated in gorgeous jewel colours. Upon closer inspection you will see deliberate cut marks, which Roberts says, is a conteraction to the instinctive, loose way she makes glass.
Kathryn Roberts
Ceramics, glass, precious and non-precious jewellery were particularly strong, with  incredibly diverse approaches to each material- indicating the level of skill and reflecting the individuality of maker. What was surprising was the  affordability of many of the pieces (£100 and under). A clear sign of industry's understanding of shifting consumer attitudes towards buying contemporary craft in the current economic climate. This is good news for consumers as it makes authentic, quality craft accessible to all, not just the elite.

The only criticism was the lack of originality of some textiles, which to me all looked very similar, indistinguishable in a sea of same coloured knitted or woven patterns. The fact that few of the Lux Craft makers were present was another. The catalogue is impossible to navigate either. Besides this Origin has lived up to its reputation. No doubt I will be there next year, spending hours exploring the mecca like a child in a candy shop, enjoying every minute of it.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...