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Craftsmanship, colour and illumination.

Artist sculptor and designer Margit Wittig invited a select group of design professionals to hear interior designer Charlotte Stuart talk about their joint love of craftsmanship, colour and light.

Charlotte Stuart began her design career as a costume designer at the National Youth Theatre, moving on to create her own fashion label and eventually finding her vocation as an interior designer, working with the legendary Imogen Taylor of Colefax and Fowler. Taking a leap of faith, Charlotte went on to set up her design studio; Charlotte Stuart Interiors, which is growing in reputation with projects in the UK and Europe.

The sculptural lamps and candlesticks created by Margit Wittig for Kit Kemp’s Whitby and Berkley Square Hotels caught Charlotte’s attention and when they met and a design friendship began.

Margit Wittig trained in the traditions of fine art and sculpture, she has combined the disciplines of bronze casting and resin casting to build a reputation for elegantly colourful statement pieces of lighting and decorative features. She says about the fine line between artist and crafts person “I feel like an artist but I am willing to let my clients decide”

Margit’s lamps are totally bespoke, using composite elements of her resin and bronze forms, making each piece individual. The influence of Modigliani is evident in her sculpted bronze heads which are combined with geometric forms to create elegant totems of colour and form.

Clients can choose to omit the heads and Margit will painstakingly colour her geometric resin forms to ensure a complete colour match for her clients.

The colours of these pieces are informed by the strength of colour in Margit’s paintings, an aspect of her work that shows her talent for combining texture and form.

Moving her work forward, Margit is developing a collection of furniture and hardware accessories, cast from bronze and resin to add a creative touch to doors and furniture. These pieces have a monumental feel, reminiscent of the columnar forms of Brancusi.

The creative synchronicity between Charlotte Stuart’s vibrant interior colour schemes and Margit Wittig’s artwork is certainly something to watch out for in future projects.

Indoor gardening

I revisited one of my favourite art venues this weekend in the Cotswold town of Cirencester. The Brewery Arts Centre was one of the pioneers in encouraging designer makers to set up workshops and studios in their purpose built hub.For the past 40 years the Cirencester Workshops’ aim has been to ‘give the public good quality crafts, provide craftspeople with a fair rent and encourage them to produce creative work of a high standard, and to put the enterprise on a sound financial basis’.  I have been priveleged to witness the evolution of this centre over the years and have always enjoyed popping in to see what’s on in the gallery or peep into the workshops to witness some really stunning works being created. (Not to mention the fab coffee!)

The current exhibition, “How does your garden grow?” has been curated by garden designer Geoff Carr. He has created an indoor garden design which features ceramics, sculpture, garden furniture and tools. Although I was not a great fan of the synthetic lino ’tiling’ which didn’t really do the works sitting upon it justice, I thoroughly approve of the concept behind the show. So often, garden design elements are shoved to the background, overshadowed by showy plants and flowers, but this exhibition gives us the opportunity to see gardening staples, such as terracotta flowerpots, trowels and bird boxes in a new light as bona-fide pieces of craft in their own right.

The sculptural qualities of woven willow are more apparent in a gallery setting, before they have been overgrown with the plants they are destined to support. The ceramic forms of Nigel Edmonson incorporate ‘landscape based abstraction that responds to the Lakeland fells’ that lie on his doorstep.

Karen Edwards also works in clay , exploring her interest in plants and landscape. The pieces are hand formed, using various techniques to create individual pieces which are then embellished, embossed or polished and glazed.

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Karen Edwards

 

The palatial clay birdboxes created by Peter Garrard are a fantastical journey into his world of fascination with Chinese, Medieval and Pre-Renaissance artefacts. Lavishly decorated and glazed these dwellings would be for the most discerning of feathered property tycoons!

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Peter Garrard

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Peter Garrard

 

A row of beach hut striped teracotta pots spans the width of the gallery and I love the idea of these colourful elements added to the simplest form of garden pottery. The humble flowerpot has been given special treatment by potter Simon Hulbert who works in Haye-on-Wye. Simon says;”My work has always been varied in scale and complexity- from the humble plant pot, simply thrown, through to the larger one-off pieces which are often monumental in scale.” I am so pleased that he has treated us to this display of ‘humble’ pots.

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Simon Hulbert

I seem to have focussed on the ceramic elements in my photographs but there was a range of other mediums on show, including some stunning steamed wood baskets from Jane Crisp

jane Crisp

And just in case you feel the need to get your hands dirty and actually plant something in your garden here are some really splendid bespoke tools from Implementations to adorn your garden shed walls!

 

Dancing shadows. Alexander Calder at the Tate Modern.

My culture fix this week was a fleeting visit to the Alexander Calder show at Tate Modern. Renowned for his iconic ‘mobiles’ Calder’s early work was a revelation to me. He trained as an engineer and it is this grounding in the principles of engineering that allowed him to create his seemingly impossibly balanced kinetic sculptures in his later life. But it was the fragile three dimensional sketches in wire that fascinated me on entering the exhibition.

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Alexander Calder at The Tate Modern, London

Photography is strictly prohibited in the exhibition, and rightly so, but this does make life a little difficult when the likes of me want to explain the delicacy of Calder’s sculpted wire forms. I have photographed from the little catalogue given to visitors, a couple of the images, just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, but really nothing beats the real thing. Of course it is the essential three dimensionality of the work that makes it so fascinating; from one angle you are looking at a vague tangle of wires, and then as you move around, it turns into the most wonderful horse, expresssed in the minimum of line, or a pair of entangled circus acrobats performing their act, arms and legs akimbo!

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Alexander Calder. Tate Modern, London

As I moved through time in the exhibition my imagination was caught by Calder’s development into the astrological forms. these delicate pieces of line/wire work are so fragile, yet monumental in their simplicity I was drawn to opening my well thumbed note book and start sketching. So, you see, there is good reason for banning photography after all; it makes us lazy artists get out that trusty pencil and paper again!

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Sketch of Calder sculpture, Tate Modern

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Sketch of Calder sculpture, Tate Modern

And of course, once you start, it’s hard to stop!

Moving into the next chronological section of the exhibition were the famous suspended ‘mobile’ sculptures. I half expected to be underwhelmed by these, having encountered them so often in books and art history lectures, but no, this was a whole new experience. The fragility and subtlety of these pieces was breathtaking in its gentleness. I had expected hard, wiry forms, but the wire is so fragile that in some pieces, such as ‘tightrope’ the forms seem to hover mid-air, poised to make their next flight.

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Tightrope. Alexander Calder. Tate Modern

Throughghout the galleries I was struck by the importance, not of the physical sculptures themselves, but of their effect on the light and space surrounding them. The shadows change with a constant evolution, the sculptures themselves are often in continuous motion and the emotional waves that emanate from these pieces made me feel quite wobbly myself at some points!

A brief, certainly not intellectual, review of this exhibition is my encouragement to all, if you have the chance, to see the work for yourself if ever you have the chance!

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Section of suspended mobile sculpture by Alexander Calder. Tate Modern

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Tate Modern, exhibition brochure

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