Skip to content

Collect 2018 – in search of textile crafts

The Crafts Council’s Collect 2018 launched at the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road yesterday with a superb selection of galleries and makers from around the world. With over 400 artists exhibiting the whole of the Saatchi Gallery is filled with work spanning the spectrum of the modern craft practice. Boundary pushing ceramics and glass pieces sit alongside contemporary jewellery and bookbinding. I did notice a distinct rarity of textile pieces overall, which was a little disappointing, so am concentrating my efforts in a celebration of the few pieces that are featured.
There were some exemplary pieces of constructed textiles to be seen in the Collect Open section of the show, notably work by Korean textile artist Jiu Jang who has created site-specific pieces for an installation symbolizing the divine power of Numen, which rules the “eternal cycle from birth to death in all natural elements on earth”

Jang uses natural fibres to create monumental “garments” layering, stitching and felting fibres and dying with the seeds of the ebony tree to give a rich gamut of charcoal greys and earthy browns. The tactility of these pieces is reminiscent of ancient artefacts and the scale of the work is an impressive testament to the craft and patience of the artist.

In contrast to Jiu Jang’s wholly organic fibres, RCA graduate Hannah Robson has created a series of richly coloured woven structures using metal threads woven with yarns to create self-supporting textile structures and large hangings with 3D surface elements. Hannah incorporates copper wires in the warp of the weave and cleverly constructs forms that spring into 3 dimensional forms once they are removed from the loom.

The tradition of the woven tapestry has been used by Jilly Edwards as a story-telling medium, she has created a series of thirteen tapestry segments, each representing a four week time span. Colours are inspired by skies, and landscapes around her Bristol studio and map changing weather patterns. Presented on a long table top, this tapestry is a subtle and sensitive example of constructed textile skills.

As a lover of stitch I was intrigued by the work of Emily Gibbs. Layers of coloured silk organza are hand stitched in the seemingly simple running stitch as drawings or “portraits” of fellow makers exploring the idea of portraits, looking at depicting the person through their workspace and tools. This series of embroideries is a celebration of the often underrated skills of makers encompassing crafts such as glassblowing, pottery metalwork and shoemaking.


Amongst the 40 galleries exhibiting at Collect 2018 I only found a brave three that featured any textile based work, notably 50 Goldborne has travelled far to find their textile based offering. The gallery exhibits the Ubuhle Collective from South Africa, which is reviving the tradition of beaded textiles as art. Millions of meticulously hand sewn beads form sumptuous images and patterns reminiscent of tropical flora.


Afke Golsteijn’s hand embroidered bird sculpture is shown in the Gallerie Marzee exhibit, with hand stitched silk as the flowing tail of this piece.

And the Katie Jones gallery is showing a selection of indigo-dyed pieces by renowned Japanese textile artist Shihoko Fukomoto.


I may of course have missed some pieces, but as I have an eagle-eye for textile art, it is a real disappointment that I had to search so hard amongst over 400 artists in these prestigious international gallery offerings for contemporary textile craft pieces, when we know that the world of textiles has such a rich craft heritage. Hopefully 2019 will be a better year!

Storytime at Decorex 2017

Decorex is renowned as London’s premier interior decoration event, and its aisles are populated by the cogniscenti of the interior design world searching for new ideas.
Revisiting the show I was excited to see that Decorex is encouraging smaller design companies to exhibit, and rather than sticking them in a dingy corner of the show, they are interspersed amongst the established brands.

Fanny Shorter, for instance, has a beautiful collection of hand printed linens, bold in colour and exquisitely drawn. Not for Fanny the current trend of photo-montage and digital printing, hers is a truly personal collection of designs inspired by the stories of Gerald Durrell and the island of Corfu.

Story telling is also part of Newton Paisley’s collection. Designer Susy Paisley is a biologist who has used her drawings to create a collection of prints that highlight the plight of endangered species. Glorious depictions of tropical creatures and plants printed on linen serve to preserve wild habitat through her collaboration with the World Land Trust. 


Baker & Gray‘ s collection is inspired by the lifelong travels of designer Sarah Baker. Prints and embroideries are derived from family heirlooms and plants forms from the African continent. Reminiscent of raw, untreated cloth the linens have an earthy elegance that harks back to a bygone age.

Smaller design companies have historically been limited in their collections by the prohibitive cost of print production. The evolution of digital printing has somewhat alleviated this problem, with shorter minimum print runs and the opportunity for affordable multi-colour printing.

It is, however, gratifying to see that the art of hand screenprinting is still very much alive and championed by small design companies. March & May handprint their collection of small scaled graphic printed fabrics in their Sheffield studio. Bicoloured or monochrome designs are all hand printed to order.

Designer and ceramicist Laura Hamilton is one of the Justin Van Breda Showroom’s new additions. Again these designs are inspired by a life well travelled, depicting plant forms of the Caribbean in their simple,pared back drawings, hand printed onto linen.

One of the more refined examples of digital printing in Decorex were the wallpapers of Boho &Co shimmering hummingbirds and delicate plants climb the wall reminiscent of traditional chinoiserie papers. The colours are get my contemporary, and the temptation to over design using digital artwork has been cleverly avoided.

One of the new companies launching at Decorex this year was Hunt & Hope not a print in sight, this company has rediscovered the art of traditional needlepoint and given it a fun twist. Camouflage and animal skin patterns are stitched by hand to commission ready for use on cushions, ottomans and accessories. A refreshing new approach to a traditional art.It is refreshing to see these and other small businesses thriving in the tough world of the interior decoration industry.

Labour’s of love…

I have been periodically revisiting this beautiful vintage needlepoint tapestry of wild birds over the past few months, adding my hand beaded embellishment, and searching for the perfect reverse cloth for the cushion. Thankfully the Guy Goodfellow Collection has just launched a new emerald courway of their popular Fez Weave which coordinates perfectly, so at last the cushion is finished!

%d bloggers like this: