Sunday, 22 March 2015

The New Craftsmen

I finally got along to The New Craftsmen in London last weekend. The Mayfair shop contains work from over seventy of Britain's makers in a beautiful space which was, at one time, a leather goods workshop. Alongside the finished pieces, craftspeople design and make work, giving visitors a chance to understand the materials, skills and processes that go in to some of the objects on sale.

Some of my favourite makers from Scotland are involved including Hannah McAndrew (pottery), Ebba Goring (jewellery), Scarlett Cohen French (jewellery) and Grant McCaig (silver). Shetland is represented with work from Mati Ventrillon (knitwear), who was recently featured in my article on Fair Isle for a special knit edition of Selvedge. Orkney features too with sheepskins from Isle of Auskerry. Hooray for amazing craft from all over the UK under the one roof.

It's the presence and visibility of materials and craftspeople that makes this place really special. Seeing and hearing the process and watching objects come into being means that it's almost impossible to leave without something. I would have happily gone home with Dalston-based Gareth Neal's Brogdar, a modern take on the Orkney chair. But, alas, it was not to be. 

I fell in love with some silk fish stuffed with gorgeous lavender by Rose de Borman. Rose hand paints on silk, drawing inspiration from folk-art and traditional techniques inspired by her day-job sourcing antique fabrics. Choosing between them was tough. In the end I went for a lovely little guy that looks like a mackerel (perhaps not a surprising choice for a Shetlander) who is now happy and at home on our Edinburgh fireplace.

Hannah McAndrew 2 Rose de Borman 3&4 Gareth Neal 5 Ebba Goring 6 Stuart Carey 7 Iva Polachova (white pieces) and Nicola Tassie (brown mug) 8 Iva Polachova 9 Catarina Riccabona 10 Mourne Textiles 11&12 A happy Rose de Borman mackerel in Edinburgh

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Friday, 6 February 2015

Oh, Lerwick town

Sometimes home seems awfully far away. I've spent my evening revisiting some of my special Lerwick spots through photos. All of these pictures were taken in early January this year.

1. South end of Lerwick from Ness of Sound 2. Looking into the hills from Cunningham Way 3. A greedy little pony who follows me down to the beach pleading for sweeties 4. Looking south from the Sands of Sound on a stormy day 5. A very special red front door, behind which the world's best scones await 6. Sun setting over the Ness of Sound from the Knab.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Happy New Year

We're 11 days in to 2015 already, but it's not too late to say 'Happy New Year'! I saw off 2014 by going on a big long walk with my family to my favourite place in the world. We traced the coastline of Eshaness for a couple of miles and brewed a cup of tea at the Grind o da Navir, a natural amphitheatre hewn out of the cliffs by sea-flung boulders. An afternoon of biting winds and thundering waves was the perfect way to take stock of the last 12 months and contemplate the year ahead.

Last year was beautiful but oh-so-busy with the wedding, house moves, and all sorts. I don't have any new year's resolutions as such, but I'm hoping it will be a year of small pleasures rather than big changes. To that end, I've made a selfish promise to myself to do more of the little things that make me happy (and productive - the two go hand-in-hand at the moment) including such delights as:

- going to bed super-early with a book (I'm currently reading The Memory Palace and loving it)
- writing early in the morning when it feels like the whole world is still asleep
- walking slowly to nowhere in particular
- having very long, completely pointless phone conversations
- drinking even more tea

It will be a year of thinking hard and writing lots - with a trip to Iceland somewhere in the middle - and I intend to enjoy every minute of it.

I hope 2015 is already shaping up nicely for you. Happy, happy new year!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas folks. I'm home in Shetland for a few days of visiting, walking and guddling for stones at the beach. I hope you're having a lovely festive break, wherever you are. Take care and have fun. 



Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Selected at Dovecot Studios

Edinburgh is teeming with craft this month. Exhibitions, open studios, markets and fairs are to be found in every corner of the city. Selected at Dovecot Studios brings together work by makers from across Scotland in an exhibition that is testament to our diverse and thriving craft community. The work is displayed beautifully and the focus is on telling the stories behind the objects - stories of place and process.

Selected is much more than an exhibition. It is a project which explores the ideas behind the objects on display. The social media campaign, #MatchedMakers considers notions of ownership, wearability and usability, together with the concept of coveting craft. The accompanying symposium, Making Connections, brought makers and curators together for a day of thinking about craft practice and the networks involved in production and consumption. It is this kind of joined up thinking that stimulates ideas, inspires new ways of working, and forges lasting friendships and partnerships.

Among the pieces that have caught my eye at Selected are a porcelain necklace by Mirka Janeckova, which I wore in my #MatchedMakers photograph (top), and I went along today and bought a gorgeous pair of coral-like silver earrings by the same jeweller. Both pieces are inspired by coastlines, sea-life and shipwrecks. Janeckova aims to create a special relationship between her pieces and their wearer, so that they take on role of 'an amulet or container for personal emotions, memories and hopes'. My earrings are already special to me: they mark the end of the best year ever.

I could go on and on about all the gorgeous things at Selected - Susan O'Byrne's ceramic birds with their lovely expressions; Polly Collins's silver utensils; Morag MacPherson's luxurious silk scarves and kimonos, and Anna S. King's baskets of feathers. Hopefully these images of the show say much more than I can.

Selected runs at Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh until 21 December 2014.

1. Me wearing Mirka Janeckova for #MatchedMakers - photo by Lizzie Cowan of Dovecot Studios.
Selected exhibition images credit: Shannon Tofts
2. Jessica Howarth | Jewellery
3 & 4. Anna S. King | Mixed Media
5. Polly Collins | Silversmithing
6. Susan O'Byrne | Ceramics
7. Fiona Thompson | Ceramics
8. Gilly Langton | Jewellery
9. Lorna Fraser | Ceramics
10. Judy Scott | Textiles
11. Angus Ross | Furniture

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Craft Christmas

A list of Christmas craft gift ideas - handmade/meaningful things from great makers and shops.

one: Horn beaker by Abbeyhorn from Makers & Brothers, £14.82
two: Birdseye cuff by Hilary Grant, £18
three: Stitch studs by Ebba Goring, £40
four: Grostane Rug by Jamieson & Smith, £82
five: Ceramic beaker by O'Riain Pottery from Makers & Brothers, £17.16
six: Hand knitted scarf from the Peerie Shop, £35
seven: Wool felt crofthouse brooch by Donna Smith Designs, £9.95
eight: Boat model from Shetland Museum shop, £20