After launching last year with an ambitious programme that explored the many facets of British craftsmanship, London Craft Week returns to the capital on May 3 with nearly double the number of events. This city-wide celebration of all that is handmade features exhibitions, studio tours and talks from both celebrated masters and unknown makers, in both prestigious venues and small out-of-the-way workshops. It is a sparkling showcase of the UK’s most skilled talents – from embroiderers to engineers, from goldsmiths to gunmakers – who create some of the world’s most luxurious objects.
The broad spectrum of events ranges from the traditional to the unexpected – with many of the offerings blurring the lines between the two. So while long-established “fine craft” gallery Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA) juxtaposes Julian Stair’s spare and serene ceramics (third picture) with the striking silver art-like jewellery of Dorothy Hogg and the elegant wooden furniture of John Makepeace, alongside talks and demonstrations, the Southwark space will also host porcelain specialist Sue Paraskeva’s installation-making performance Smashing Pots (May 7, 2-3pm), which promises to live up to its title.
Open studios include that of glass artist Danny Lane in his northwest London space, where his extraordinary, often monumental sculptures (fourth picture) and furniture are constructed, and the Asprey workshop, where it’s possible to see the process behind homeware designer Hakan Rosenius’s new collection of barware and cocktail shakers – complete with Pommery champagne cocktails, of course. Glassblower Michael Ruh will be opening up the door to his South London atelier to highlight his colourful collaboration with perfumer Lyn Harris, and sponsors Vacheron Constantin demonstrate the exacting arts of watchmaking and enamelling (first picture) at their London boutique.
But these creative processes are also brought out of private workshops into a cool new context. At Shoreditch’s hip Ace Hotel, for example, Ben Hymers, an apprentice weaver from Dovecot Tapestry Studio, will be demonstrating the tapestry techniques (fifth picture) used to make the refined pieces that were commissioned by the hotel in 2013, and shoe designer Georgina Goodman (shoes, sixth and seventh pictures) will take up residency in Soho members’ club Blacks.
At each turn there will be the chance not only to talk to the makers, but also to buy or commission their wares. For those looking to take the leap into buying bespoke, guided tours advise on the process of custom-made suits, couture, millinery and shoes, while How To Spend It contributor Helen Chislett gives a talk on commissioning luxury site-specific, large-scale interiors pieces with designer Karen Howes of Taylor Howes – featuring Aryma’s exquisite marquetry work.
Also flying the How To Spend It flag is writer Charlotte Abrahams, who has curated The Craft of Wallpaper exhibition at east London’s Geffrye Museum, which shows papers by historic brands, incuding Fromental, alongside newer names such as Custhom, which will be creating “live wallpaper designs”. Another live event sure to draw a crowd is taking place at the British Museum, where Wang Dongling, recognised as one of China’s greatest living calligraphers, will be covering the floor with his monumental “mad” cursive script (second picture).
Overwhelmed by the choice? The London Craft Week website makes browsing a breeze, and allows you to plan your visit by adding events to a “my LCW” section.