Artistic networks are important; they nurture and support, they create an environment to stimulate ideas and develop practice. But not all networks are equal; the good ones push and challenge you, they keep you on your creative toes and help you stay brave, and the very best make you feel just a bit lucky to be thought good enough to be part of them.
For this exhibition each maker invited their mentor from the Crafts Council Hothouse programme to show work alongside them, to demonstrate how their continuing dialogue has helped grow individual practices and to document how relationships have continued to flourish.
As a group these makers often work beyond conventional ideas of what contemporary craft is often understood to be. Not dependent upon producing functional products or even, in some cases, permanent objects they are led by ideas, material, methodologies, process, research, site and collections. What they share, and indeed as a network continue to find ways of sharing with each other, is the haptic and tacit knowledge that characterises craft making.
The knowledge that the hand and eye comprehends immediately but is difficult to articulate and near impossible to communicate just with words. It is knowledge gained from experience not books and those who hold it are often unaware of its exact nature -they know more than they can tell. It can only be shared through extended personal contact, in relationship, and through communities of practice.
Making and storytelling are at the core of Laura’s practice; creating unusual objects that inspire and engage the imagination and encourage both fictional and historical stories.
The uncanny, the subtle sensation that things are not as they should be, is a recurring theme within Laura’s work; contrasting or unexpected materials are often used to create a sense of wonder.
She frequently utilises personal and domestic items for their familiarity; this heightens the tension between the real and the unreal; concrete and illusion.
Thomas Appleton works with stone. He trained formally as a letter cutter and a stonemason; his work crosses between ?art, design and craft, to explore our connection to stone and to champion its relevance.
Thomas’s work explores the contrasts between old and new forms of communicating and sharing identity, renegotiating the role of stone in British heritage and challenging the conflation of prestige with permanence.
Bonnie Kemske creates ceramic forms that are complete only when they are held. Cast by the human body, they are finished in soft textures that entice our sense of touch. Bonnie aims to give those who interact with her artwork a positive and calming experience. One person said, ‘As soon as I fit it to my body and found a place where it was comfortable, it didn’t feel cold or hard anymore. It felt as if I was hugging an extension of myself.’
Laura Ellen Bacon
Laura Ellen Bacon’s large-scale installations are almost always built on site, allowing her to form work in a way that truly fits a site. The sculptures that she makes have a closeness with a host structure or the fabric of a building; their oozing energy spills from gutters, their ?muscular? forms nuzzle up to the glass and their tripping weave locks onto the strength of the walls. Whilst the scale and impact varies from striking to subtle (sometimes only visible upon a quizzical double take), Laura relishes the opportunity to let a building ‘feed’ the form, as if some part of the building is exhaling into the work.
Annie Turner’s ceramic art is closely linked with the river Deben and its surrounding environment where she grew up in Suffolk. Her sculptural ceramics are hand-built stoneware that appear rusted from having been fired once, twice and sometimes on more occasions, and their surfaces are thickened and coloured with oxides and slips. Turner’s sculptures are delicate yet possess a quality of strength that suggests movements of currents and the tides of the water, changing seasons and the passage of time.
Giles Macdonald is a letter carver working with slate, stone and other materials. Giles designs and makes inscriptions ranging from plaques and tablets to architectural lettering. More than just texts, inscriptions describe experience, and their appeal lies beyond the words used. We sense this when we’re attracted to inscriptions we can’t read and whose language we don’t know. A linear text reflects the horizon in front of us. Inscriptions become a way of exploring the wider world and an acknowledgement of being alive.
Shelly Goldsmith engages with textiles within gallery and site-specific contexts, often responding to historical environments. Using methodologies and theories borrowed from forensic or psychiatry partnerships, she explores and presents latent experience and memory inherent in worn clothing, especially examining the fine veneer of cloth that stands between us and the world; often a veil to the interior storm.
Listening carefully to the stories the reclaimed garments present enables narrative to develop and imagining around their ability to carry memory, to absorb and reflect experience. These garments are often presented as a metaphor for common human states and present opportunity for self-reflection and personal insight.
25th – 29th October 2016
13th January – 4th March 2017
Old Fire Station