Design Centre Stories

Gallery Highlights: Elevating Materials

With interior design placing an increasing value on hand-made objects, materiality has never been so much in the spotlight – and being able to shine a light on these skills is one of the reasons that Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour has mounted Artefact, its first contemporary craft fair.

While many stalwart craft disciplines are represented at Artefact, from ceramics to glassmaking and textiles, many other makers are forging their own path with more unexpected materials. These objects can be some of the most exciting to experience – when feelings of familiarity about a material you thought you knew, such as paper or plastic, suddenly collide with some incredible making skills, elevating that material into art.

An extra layer of intrigue is added when the material can’t quite be identified: you know you’re looking at something beautiful, you’re just not sure how it came to be. That is certainly true of Annette Townsend’s work at Ruup & Form: this ‘Wood Anenome’ sculpture (above) looks utterly lifelike and yet its blooms will never fade. Townsend makes her exquisite pieces from beeswax, using traditional modelling techniques yet presenting then in a minimal, contemporary way within glass globes.

At Cube Gallery, discover the work of Tony Blackmore (above left) whose work is made from intricately folded Mylar film, a material traditionally used to draught architectural plans. Blackmore draws on, scores and folds the film to create a relief surface of mesmerising geometrical patterns. He describes the act of making these objects as “akin to a form of meditation, and I am totally absorbed for hours at a time. There is always an element of surprise that I find hugely rewarding when a final relief form emerges.” Peter Monaghan’s work, also at Cube Gallery (above right) has an affinity with Blackmore’s, with its wheel of undulating colour made from paper that changes hue at every angle.

There’s more paper at Jaggedart, where Thurle Wright’s intricate work is make from existing texts such as atlases, works of fiction and dictionaries. Her complex paper constructions include ‘Tapestry Tales (above left) which is woven on a tapestry net, its sepia-toned sections created by the addition of tea. Modern materials are also on show, such as Klari Reis’ colourful installations (above centre), also at Jaggedart, which are made from epoxy polymer resin. Each piece is pigmented with powders, oils, acrylics and industrial dyes, built up through many layers of the ultra-glossy plastic. Helen O’Shea also works with plastic, but the results are very different; ‘Bi-valve’ (above right) is made from used milk bottles, but possesses an ethereal beauty that is far from the material’s prosaic roots. Find her work at Ting-Ying Gallery.