Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.

Blog, Exhibitions

WEAVERS OF THE CLOUDS: TEXTILE ARTS OF PERU

21 June -8 September 2019 at the Fashion and Textile Museum London

Weavers of the Clouds brings the captivating designs of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful art and textiles. Peru has a world-renowned heritage of fibre arts and costumes, from a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Weavers of the Clouds examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond.

The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including the Museo de la Nación, Museo de Arte, Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana in Lima and the British Museum in London, including full costumes, tapestries, adornments, trimmings and accessories. 

Highlights include a 16th century Quipu – knotted fibres that were traditionally used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. Also on display; a rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers, a sequined and embroidered waistcoat, emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map.

Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave, one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years and in the works of many great designers, including the Bauhaus and Anni Albers. These incredible costumes and textiles are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging paintings, photographs and illustrations.

Images by highly influential photographer Martin Chambi and paintings by Indigenista Peruana – a group of painters who were active in Lima from 1890s – 1940s – are accompanied by finely drawn paintings by Pancho Fierro and Francisco Javier Cortés. A further selection of vibrant watercolours by Francisco Gonzaláz Gamarra’s will be on show for the very first time, illustrating and celebrating traditional costume.

Finally, The Fashion Studio hosts a display curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by award-winning Peruvian restaurateur and chef, Martin Morales, exploring the work of 15 contemporary Peruvian artists and makers. These ground breaking artists combine the patience and skill of traditional techniques with contemporary materials such as nylon, copper, wire, photographic paper and thread.

Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.
The exhibition is curated by Guest Curator Hilary Simon in collaboration with Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions and The Fashion and Textile Museum. Interviews available on request. 

  The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
T: 020 7407 8664 | E: info@ftmlondon.org

Museum opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm; Sunday, 11am – 5pm; Late night Thursday until 8pm; Last admission 45 minutes before closure. Ticket prices: £9.90 adults*, £8.80* concessions, £7 students and free entry for under 12s *including Gift Aid.  Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.

 
Blog, Exhibitions

The BP Portrait Award 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery London

The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2019 was announced this week at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibition is now open for the public to view until Sunday 20 October 2019. 

The Poet by Tina Orsouc Dalessio

2019 marks the Portrait Award’s 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP. The BP Portrait Award, one of the most important platforms for portrait painters, has a first prize of £35,000, making it one of the largest for any global arts competition. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.

As I write this I am very aware of the opposition to BP sponsoring the Portrait award. Despite the controversy the work is an incredible standard and the show is worth visiting. This year is particularly good as the work depicts people from all walks of life different ages cultures and ethnicity.

Arcus by Brendan H Johnston 2018

“There should be no role for an oil company in the artistic decisions of any cultural organization, and especially not in determining the winner of the world’s leading portrait award.” wrote the award’s judge, artist Gary Hume in a letter published with the group Culture Unstained. “This is the 30th year of BP sponsoring the Portrait Award, and I would argue that 30 years is enough. As the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent, the Gallery will look more and more out of step by hosting an oil-branded art prize.”
This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.

Smoke Break by Ola Sarri 2018

The first prize was won by Brighton based artist, Charlie Schaffer, for Imara in her Winter Coat. This is a portrait of a close friend of the artist. It was selected from 2,538 submissions from 84 countries. The judges admired the mannerist style of this portrait, which has a strong sense of a living presence in Schaffer’s composition. The judges went on to say, ‘the skilful depiction of a combination of several different textures including faux-fur, hair and skin are revealed by prolonged looking and together these produce an image that is traditional, but clearly contemporary.’ 

Originally from London, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins before graduating with a degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 2014. He has gone on to win the Brian Botting Prize ‘for an outstanding representation of the human figure’ three times.

Schaffer’s portrait Imara in her Winter Coat portrays Imara, an English Literature student he met after moving permanently to Brighton. Schaffer said: “She immediately struck me as someone who is uncompromisingly open and who wants to learn about anything and everything.” Sittings for the portrait took place over four months, with Imara posing in her warmest winter coat to withstand the studio’s cold conditions. Schaffer set out to paint only Imara’s face, but subsequently added the coat after being inspired by Titian’s Portrait of Girolamo Fracastoro in the National Gallery, London, with its pyramidal composition and the subject’s similar attire

Sandi Toksvig presented Charlie Schaffer with £35,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £7,000 (agreed between the National Portrait Gallery and the artist).

Born in London in 1992, Schaffer studied at Central Saint Martins and then the University of Brighton where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in Fine Art. This is the first time he has been selected for the BP Portrait Award exhibition. Schaffer’s practice is mainly concerned with the act of painting, and how the process that allows the painter and sitter to spend time with one another forms unique and intense relationships.

Second prize winner The Crown by Carl-Martin Sandvold

The second prize of £12,000 went to Norwegian painter, Carl-Martin Sandvold, for The Crown, a self-portrait in existential thought. The judges were particularly impressed by the assured handling of paint, and keen observation, creating a portrait that had made a memorable impression, and lingered in the mind. 

Artist Frank Bowling by Tedi Lena 2019

The third prize of £10,000 went to Italian artist, Massimiliano Pironti, for Quo Vadis?, a portrait of his maternal grandmother, Vincenza, a former miller and factory worker now aged ninety-five. The judges were captivated by the excellent depiction of the subject, in particular the sitter’s hands in contrast with the surrounding textures including rubber, tiles and curtains. 

Third prize winner Quo Vadis? by Massimiliano Pironti 2018

The BP Young Artist Award of £9,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by 30 year-old Brighton based artist Emma Hopkins for Sophie and Carla, a portrait that depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog. The judges liked the way negative space had been used in the portrait, and how the artist had refreshed the traditional depiction of the nude with an interesting mutual gaze between the artist and sitter. Emma Hopkins was born in Brighton in 1989 and turned to portrait painting after graduating with a degree in Make-up and Prosthetics for Performance from the University of the Arts, London. Self-taught, Hopkins first exhibited her work in a staff show at the Chelsea Arts Club while working behind the bar, now she is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Hopkins’ expertise has fed directly into her painting, which focuses almost exclusively on nude portraits and studies of human flesh. 

BP Young Artist Award Sophie and Carla by Emma Hopkins 2019

Hopkins’ portrait Sophie and Carla depicts the photographer Sophie Mayanne and her pet dog Carla. Mayanne is known for Behind the Scars, a photography project about people’s scars and the stories behind them. It is an interest that Hopkins shares, she says: “I want to understand as much as I can about what it means to be human. We are not just the clothed person we present to the world. We are the mind and body that we inhabit.”

The winner of the BP Travel Award 2019, an annual prize to enable artists to work in a different environment on a project related to portraiture, was Manu Kaur Saluja for her proposal to travel to the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India. Saluja intends to make portraits of the men and women from all walks of life who volunteer to work in the temple kitchens that operate year-round, providing meals to over 50,000 people free of charge, every day. The prize of £8,000 is open to applications from any of this year’s BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists, except the prize-winners. 

Z Hany U by Robert Seidel

The winner of the BP Travel Award 2018 was Robert Seidel for his proposal to travel along the route of the river Danube by train, boat and bike to connect with people and make portraits in the regions through which the river passes. His excellent  portraits work are displayed one floor up  from the BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition.

Admission to the exhibition is free. 

Blog, Exhibitions

Chihuly at Kew

Visit Kew Gardens to see the iridescent glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly and the magnificent Hive installation by Wolfgang Buttress.

At the end of Chelsea Flower show and the opening of many Gardens under the International Garden Scheme it seemed like a good time to visit Kew gardens. If like me, you choose a bank holiday Monday, go by public transport as it is near impossible to find a place to park. Having said that, once you are in the gardens they are so vast even with the large numbers of visitors it feels tranquil and not crowded.

         I had two reasons to visit, beside all the magnificent plant specimens, the first was the Hive the 17 meter high Installation and the second was to see the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly in the natural surroundings for which it was intended.

   From a distance the hive looks like a swarm of bees, as you get closer you can see the honey comb structure. The hive is made up of 169,300 pieces of aluminium and steel. You can climb up and see the sky through the hole in the top  of the structure or look down through the glass floor beneath your feet.

         The Hive, a symbol of UK creativity and innovation was commissioned by the UK Government for 2015 Milan Expo. It was created by Wolfgang Buttress, Simmonds Studio, Stage One and BDP. It gives a glimpse into the life of a bee colony.

         Honey bees communicate through smells and vibration, different pulses translate into different messages. Installed in the hive are 1,000 LED lights that connect to one of Kew’s bee hives. The illumination of the lights represent the bees’ ‘communications’ and the vibrational changes occurring within Kew’s hive.

         Accompanying the dazzling display  is a beautiful symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same key that bees buzz in.

        

         Chihuly is one of the most daring and innovative artists working in glass. You may already know his work, as his Chandelier ice Blue and Spring hangs under the glass rotunda at the entrance to the V&A museum in South Kensington.

Chihuly’s dazzling sculptures transform Kew Gardens and glasshouses into a contemporary outdoor gallery space.

Unique art installations are situated across the grounds, including the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Here you can see his Drawings and Rotolo series – the most technically challenging work Chihuly has ever created – and Seaforms, undulating forms that conjure underwater life. 

One of the highlights is the film that is shown in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. it includes Chihuly’s progression as an artist , his working methods and how each piece is conceived made and installed. His ambitious site specific  projects include Chihuly over Venice, Chihuly in the light of Jerusalem and his current work in Kew.

There are many outstandingly beautiful pieces to see.

The celestial vibrant blue masterpiece Sapphire Star welcomes you as you walk through Victoria Gate.

The Temperate House is home to a brand new, specially designed sculpture inspired by the cathedral space it inhabits until the end of October. 

I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest they might think it belonged there. Dale Chihuly

Kew is decidedly family friendly and amongst other things there is a Family trail following the art works with a booklet for children. The Chihuly exhibition runs until 27th October 2019 kew.org

Blog, Exhibitions

Living Colour

Opening tomorrow An exhibition of the work of pioneering Abstract Expressionist artist Lee Krasner (1908-1984)

30th May -1st September at the Barbican

Lee Krasner Desert Moon 1955. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Joy oh joy this exhibition is fabulous. What a coup for the Barbican the first European exhibition for over 50 years of the work of, American artist, Lee Krasner. The exhibition will then tour to Frankfurt, Bern and Bilbao.

Lee Krasner painting Portrait in Green in her studio in Springs, NY,1969. Photograph by Mark Patiky

         Living Colour features nearly 100 works-many on show in the UK for the first time – across her 50year career, and tells the story of a formidable artist whose importance has often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock.

Lee Krasner Palingenesis, 1971

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said ‘We are thrilled to be staging Lee Krasner: Living Colour. Despite featuring in museum collections around the world and being one of the few women to have a solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, in 1984, Krasner has not received the recognition she deserves in Europe, making this an exciting opportunity for visitors here to experience the sheer impact of her work.”

Lee Krasner 1938 photographer unknown

The exhibition celebrates Krasner’s spirit for invention –including striking early self portraits, a body of energetic charcoal life drawings; original photographs of her proposed department store window displays, designed during the war effort, and her acclaimed ‘Little Image’ paintings from the 1940s with their tightly controlled geometrics.

Lee Krasner Abstract No 2 1946-48

  

It also featured collages comprised of torn-up earlier work and a selection of her most impressive large scale abstract paintings.

Lee Krasner Polar Stampede 1960

Krasner was determined to find new ways to capture inner experience. As playwright Edward Albee commented at her memorial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in both her life and her work ‘ she looked you in the eye, and you dare not flinch’.

Lee Krasner Icarus 1964

The work is accompanied by rare photography and film from the period, in an elegant exhibition design by David Copperfield Architects. There is a very nice fully illustrated Thames and Hudson book to accompany the exhibition £35 www.barbican.org/artgallery

Blog, Exhibitions, Features, Uncategorized

Chelsea Flower Show

I was lucky enough to attend The Royal Horticultural’s Chelsea Flower show this week. I got there at 8am, opening time and headed for my favourite section The Artisan gardens. I am not going to write about the large corporate sponsored gardens as so much has been written by others about them. Instead I am going to talk ARTISAN

Three gardens particularly stood out, The Finnish Summer Garden that was inspired by the biodiversity of Finnish Meadows and Woodland. The garden was designed by Taina Suonio a Finnish landscape designer, horticulturalist, environmental biologist and researcher in the Fifth Dimension- Green Roofs in Urban Areas research group.

The garden comprises clear Nordic lines and includes a 100 year old weather beaten barn wall made of granite. The cascading water feature reminds visitors to the garden about the relationship the Finns have with their roots in the country and the much-cherished respite by their countless lake-side, riverside and seaside cottages. The garden included many Finnish forest flowers and herbs.

The Donkey Sanctuary Garden celebrated the 50 years of transforming the lives of Donkeys. The designers were Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams.” We have a real fondness and appreciation for these hard The working animals, so were delighted to be asked by The Donkey Sanctury to design an Artisan Garden to explain ‘why donkeys matter’ The garden demonstrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. Set in an arid location a shelter near a well provides some shade. A dripping bucket hangs above the well and colourful planting surrounds it. The planting in the garden includes plants typical of dry regions, including Eryngium bourgatii, Iris germanica and Lavendula angustfolia. The colour palette is claret, purple and silver

The Camfed Campaign for Female Education won the Artisan Garden Gold Medal.

The designer of the garden is Jilayne Rickards

‘ I wanted the garden to reflect CAMFED’s strong commitment to supporting girls in eduction and the vibrancy of rural communities in Zimbabwe. It is a powerful message of how, by educating girls, we can tackle gender inequality and poverty, and break the cycle of poverty for good.’

At the heart of the garden is a classroom which is surrounded by plants and trees and edible fruit, leaves and roots that provide vital nutrition, particularly for mothers and school children.

The crops, which have been developed by scientists backed by UK aid, are also enriched with key vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and iron, to tackle “hidden hunger” in developing countries. 

The plants include bio fortified varieties of maize, beans and sweet potatoes and are in a garden which, unusually for Chelsea, evokes a rural Zimbabwean school yard – complete with dusty red earth, a black chalkboard and orange trees. 

If like me you are interested in craft and design there are some first class designers showing in the artisan section of the show. There is a Dyers Studio set up by ex RCA student Lola Lely. She uses plants and natural materials to create dyes, pigments and paints.

Lola Laly setting up the studio

Charlie Whinney Wood & Steam celebrates what is possible using locally sourced green wood and eco-friendly steam-bending processes to create beautiful works that enrich your life.

Ceramic artist Corrie Bain is a British ceramicist based in Barcelona . she studied ceramics at Edinburgh college of Art. Her ceramics are inspired by microscopic imagery of seed pods, pollen and fractals. They are made from hand built porcelain clay.

From the Seed Pod collection

Botanicla, Applique Artist Natasha Hulse creates handmade fabric artworks for interior products such as bedheads lamps and cushions. She celebrates the beauty and phenomena of Flora found in British Woodlands, English gardens and the effect that nature has on us in our home.

Part of a head board by Natasha Hulse Design
Alitex Green House styled by Selina Lake

As well as the artisan sections, one of the other visual joys of the show was the Alitex green house styled by Selina Lake. She always designs her spaces to feel like somewhere you want to spend time.

My all time favourite, innovative and very comfortable seats in a variety of designs by Cacoon are on sale. Every season their chief designer Nick McDonald comes up with new designs, so watch this space.

As I finish writing this piece, I must not forget the Chelsea Pensioners who are still very much in evidence in their smart red uniforms.

The show is still on and the weather is good. so if you can get in, do go and visit.

Blog, Exhibitions, Press Show Picks

Clerkenwell Design Week 2019

Clerkenwell design week is one of the most anticipated design events of the year. It is a bit of a misnomer as ‘the week’ only lasts for three days.

Each year the design practices, interior companies and product designers open their doors for visitors to enjoy what is new and engaging in the design industry. Every year Clerkenwell Design Week presents new design projects and street spectacles, commissioned specially for the festival and featured prominently around Clerkenwell. Inviting some of the leading pioneers in the creative industry, these projects aim to push the boundaries of design, in terms of concepts, process and material capabilities. They are created to challenge visitors’ perception of design application, as well as to inspire and entertain them. Previous participants include Cousins + Cousins architects, Studio Weave, Gruppe, Assemble, Monotype, OKAY Studio, Johnson Tiles, Grimshaw Architects, Sebastian Cox and more.

Once Upon a Time draws on the rich and sometimes dark historical tales of EC1. Working in collaboration with UAL Chelsea College of Arts, BA Graphic Design Communication students, stories from 6 locations were brought to life by a series of graphical installations. Below are three of them.



Passing Alley – By Rory Brown

This modern memorial honours the 66 Martyrs who were burned alive at the stake for having protestant beliefs. Displaying the names of all 66 Martyrs killed in the Smithfield this design echoes the geometric style of the church’s stained glass windows.

St James’s Church Garden – By Alistair Ramage

The House of Detention has a very rich history with tales of failed escapes and destruction. In 1867 an attempted escape went tragically wrong as a bomb ruptured a nearby gas main killing 12 people. Known as the ‘Clerkenwell Outrage’ this design uses geometric illustrations to represent the explosion in a modern way.


 
House of Detention – By Natasha Lopez

The winning concept for St John’s Gate responded to the theme of history and heritage by proposing a new structure that subtly draws on the historic form of the St John’s Gate arch whilst bringing in materials and geometries that reference the design culture of Clerkenwell today.

The concept plays with the idea of space and enclosure, by inserting a densely built timber structure within the void of the archway.  This is then carved away to allow a route through and to frame the historic features of the site.  The timber frame is filled with moments of colour that intensify towards the top of the arch, drawing visitors’ gaze upwards towards the historic architecture.  This colour is created by using recycled materials and fabrics, that reference the design identity of the area.

While on the site, the pavilion highlights details of the archway and draw parallels to the 10 year anniversary of Clerkenwell Design Week.  When moved to a new location, the pavilion will take with it the geometry of the archway to act as a casting of the original site.

Another inventive, and close to my heart, installation was Bottle House. Designed and constructed by WSP Design studio, BottleHouse is made from disregarded plastic bottles and applies skills in architectural design, engineering and construction to transform an empty bottle into a building block-forming a unique shelter.

Herman Millar presented Aeron Hockey – a fun, fast paced sport played on Aeron Chairs. Not sure your boss will be too delighted if you decide to play this in your office.

The House of Detention housed some of the artisan  designer makers and start up companies. These included BLWM by Nia Rist prints, a collection of monochrome hand printed home wares celebrating all things pattern.

A new innovative company is Spitfire they have a range of very nice felt covered lamp shades and furniture.

Turbine
Turbine detail

My conclusion, a great show yet again, and I have only touched on a fraction of what was there. If you missed it this year make sure to put it in your diary for next, it is well worth a visit.