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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Collect 2012 Saatchi Gallery 11-14 May : A taste

Anna Ray's 'Knot'
I've always found it hard to differentiate between 'what is art' and 'what is craft'. Numerous curators, organisations and experts have divided opinions on the matter but 'Collect' is a craft fair that blurs the line so much, that it is impossible to claim there is a difference between the two disciplines. Collect is organised by the UK Craft Council, but unlike other events for contemporary crafts, it's an international affair where 31 galleries present work from the finest makers/designers in the world. And when I say 'finest' - I'm not exaggerating. Although there are many countries that are not present, the work that is on display is of the highest quality, and is reassuringly imaginative.
Heidi Sand
I attended the show on the first day of the four day event which was held at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. Every time I step foot in Chelsea I expect to bump into characters from Made In Chelsea but sadly it's yet to happen. The event was held over three floors, the first two housed the exhibitions  and the top floor was a showcase called Project Space which I'll come back to later.
The crafts at Collect included ceramics, textiles, woodwork, metalwork...but from the moment I walked in, it was the jewellery that caught my attention. Across the entire exhibition, statement necklaces and pendants and intricate rings were a re-occuring theme. All of them so delicate and refined that they were a work of art in their own right. Photography was frowned upon by some of the galleries so unfortunately I have very limited photos which means there were many exquisite pieces that I fell in love with that I can't show you, like Melanie Georgacopoulos jaw dropping pearl collars (far more superior to the versions on her website) and Hans Stofers giant chain pendants, selling for an average of £4k each! It's times like this I wish I was a curator so I really could do some shopping!
Anna Talbot (image taken from AnnaTalbot.com)
Here are some of the items that caught my attention. I loved these giant wooden
silhouette pieces by Anna Talbot. They all had an enchanted, magical, fairytale theme and it made a change to seeing paper cuts; a craft that seems to be everywhere these days....I'm a fan, but Anna's designs showed that wood is just as effective for telling stories.
Elise Hatlo (image taken from EliseHatlo.com)
In the same gallery was the work of Elise Hatlo - both were presented by Galleri Format from Norway. What appealed to me was the way the materials in each piece seemed to be complete opposites of each other. She made ancient rock look good with modern metal detailing.
Karola Torkas
I am definately going back to The Netherlands! When I went a year ago I discovered gorgeous ceramics and homeware for sale. At Collect there were several art galleries from the region exhibiting and I felt that overall, they were the most exciting to explore. This range by Karola Torkas part of Gallerie Marzee was the kind of necklace display I aspire to owning...one day when I get a walk in wardrobe, I will hang my jewels in this manner!
Here's one of the pieces as a close up, which I got from the galleries website.
Maud Traon (image MaudTraon.net)
I discovered Maud at the Lesley Craze Gallery and was immediately drawn in by the shimmery, fantasy theme of her rings. I liked the way her work was so playful, yet not tacky. Despite their bright candy colours which seem more like what you find in hobby crafts rather than professional craft, her portfolio maintained the high standard of work found across the exhibition.
Dana Hakim (image DanaHakim.com)
Finally, I know, this isn't my usual style (I'm a magnet for colour) but there was something very appealing about this obscure neckpiece by Dana Hakim that reminded me of a gasmark that I just really liked! There were so many beautiful pieces, so much nicer than the usual pieces you find at craft fairs. My worst jewellery nightmare would be have to have to wear a diamond from Tiffany's.....I would so much rather indulge in a handcrafted art piece. But will have to keep dreaming for now!
Cup by Anna Ray (2004)

Back to Project Space. This is where 10 designers are given free reign to create an experimental installation for the exhibition. Every one of them was extraordinary but the two which caught my attention (and I had a chance to speak to the designers) were Anna Ray's Knots (the image at the beginning of this post) and Crook & Jones rather spectacular living chair, pictured below. Knots was a massive wall of individual pieces that Anna described as Jemima from Play School's legs. Each time they are displayed they can be knotted in different ways so the overall shape of the exhibition can change. It looked like a giant rug but surprisingly each piece (which Anna allowed people to touch) felt very soft and delicate. It was an amazing piece but made even more interesting when Anna revealed they were initially inspired by the underwires found in bra. I've never seen one before until she showed me an image. You can compare here. Who knew bra underwires had coloured tips?
The Rhizome Chair
This rather fantabulous chair caught my eye immediately as it was alive is many ways! Not only was there a plant and some potatoes growing on it, there were lights and visuals. I went back to look at it three times because I was so stunned by it and on the third time was lucky enough to meet one of its creators. 
Dr Geoff Crook from Crook & Jones
Speaking to Geoff was very inspiring. he showed me some of the other designs he's worked on, all which take furniture beyond its usual boundaries. The chair is made up of pods that all change organically. One of them, is a glowing amber jewel, but on close inspection, it's also projecting a video of the chair being made, and at the very top pod is a potato clock. It was visually very beautiful but when you spent time investigating it, you realised there were so many details and aspects to it....it certainly makes you think before you sit.
Chrome Yellow Books (image from Craft Council website)
To end my highlights, I want to mention the pop-up bookshop by Chrome Yellow Books. Just like the Collect brings together the best designers, CYB brought together the finest craft books.You know when you visit galleries and they sell unique books that you've never seen anywhere else? Well CYB have managed to find these rare gems, and sell them at events.  As someone who is mad about statement jewellery I was very pleased to discover this book:
Book want 1
Lisa Walker (image from LisaWalker.de)
Each piece was fun, quirky and (heavy looking!). I like the way knitted fingers puppets have been given a new use, (and hey wearing it is probably as warm as snuggling up in a scarf!) My absolute favourite piece in the book was a 1980s turquoise clam shell laptop necklace as it's the exact laptop I have! Great work Lisa!
Book want 2

This paper jewellery book was another personal fave as it was nice to see paper used in such creative ways.

Sadly we'll have to wait another year until Collect comes back but when it does, I'll be first in the queue to see what delights will be on offer for 2013.

Collect 2012: The International Fair for Contemporary Objects took place at The Saatchi Gallery in London 11-14 May. For more information about it visit The Craft Council website.

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