If you’re interested in things that are lovingly made by hand, that are idiosyncratic and one-off, then it would be worth tracking down a touring exhibition called Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution. The work has primarily been pulled together to inspire and to stimulate interest in the crafts, but many of the pieces on show will be on sale and any of those exhibiting can be approached for special commissions.
It’s one of a growing number of events that are following in the footsteps of the wonderful Carlo Petrini, who founded the Slow Food movement. He reminded us of the deep pleasures of culturally authentic food that was lovingly and personally prepared rather than so-called exotic dishes retrieved from the snowy depths of the freezer, and “slow” has subsequently become the adjective du jour. Attach it to something and it’s got to be good, has been the message. Anybody interested in the subject should get hold of Carl Honoré’s book, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, which is to the Slow movement what Das Kapital is to communism.
The exhibition will be touring until June 2011, and, as we’ve seen, has taken Slow as its theme. It also comes with a personal endorsement from Carl Honoré himself (“It offers,” he says, “a thrilling reminder that every object has a story behind it and that the art of making matters hugely to all of us.”).
Organised by Craftspace, a Birmingham-based organisation which exists to encourage crafts, it serves to remind us that craft is, by its very nature, slow, the result of meticulous human effort, of individual imagination and workmanship. Nothing can be speeded up. So what we have here is a collection of objects and installations, some of which could be called a trifle strange but some of which are truly beautiful. Each is special. Each is the result of somebody’s loving, personal, painstaking effort and imagination.
Paul Scott, a ceramic artist, in collaboration with a Danish ceramicist, Ann Linnemann, has come up with some exquisite porcelain (pictured), mostly cups and mugs but also beautiful trays (they start at £272, and for complete sets of mugs and tray go up to £1,560). Linnemann hand-throws them and Scott paints them with delicate botanical imagery.
Sue Lawty uses thousands of tiny stones to make a vast abstract work of art out of six panels (£22,400), while Rebecca Earley is a former fashion designer who gave it up in order to work on what she calls “upcycling” – transforming discarded garments into one-off highly original designer pieces (£640). Shane Waltener weaves sculptures from twine, yarn and wool and invites viewers to slow down and take time to add some weaving of their own.
All in all, it’s a reminder of the ingenuity of the human imagination. Check the website for where and when it will be exhibiting. It’s currently at Innovative Craft in Edinburgh, until March 10.