Collect, the international fair for craft and design, returns for its 15th edition from February 28 to March 3 – and under the new directorship of Isobel Dennis, the event at the Saatchi Gallery is raising its game once again.
Since it first launched at the V&A in 2004, the fair has campaigned to raise the visibility and cultural prestige of high-end craft. Today it finds itself in the vanguard of growing global appreciation for crafted objects, which are increasingly sought-after in galleries and auction rooms. It provides a glamorous forum for the perusal and purchase of remarkable one-off handmade pieces – from the functional or challenging to the purely decorative and sometimes awe-inspiring – created using a wide range of craft skills.
Among the 45 galleries represented this year, 18 are from outside the UK, including – new this time – the pioneering New York gallery of contemporary collectable design Todd Merrill, displaying works such as Jean-Luc Le Mounier’s breakwater-inspired Brise Lames cabinet (£61,000), and the Czech glass specialist Galerie Kuzebauch, which is bringing an exhibition of new work by leading Czech women glass artists, including Lada Semecká’s sculptural vessel Universe in cast basalt (£8,500).
Asia is also well represented. In one of two spectacular stairwell installations, Ting-Ying, based between the UK and Dehua, the home of pure-white Blanc de Chine, is showcasing the fantastical Gravity in Pray (£10,000) by emerging ceramic artist Wanling Liang. In the other, London’s Mint gallery will hang a series of spooky, beautifully engineered flying interactive lighting devices, called The Bird (from £4,500 in black; from £6,500 in gold), by Seoul-based Korean robotics engineer and artist Wonseok Jung.
Meanwhile, the Korea Crafts & Design Foundation offers work by the renowned lacquer artist Chung Hae-Cho (Rhythm of Five Colour Cluster 1302, ottchil on hemp; £30,000 for set of five). Collect stalwart Katie Jones presents 18 Japanese artists, masters of almost as many different disciplines, including the metal artist Koichi Io (£1,750-£7,000), who has just been shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize – one of seven nominees for the 2019 prize who are showing at the fair.
Sarah Myerscough, always pushing the boundaries of contemporary work in wood, is showing a dramatic wooden vessel by Nic Webb and delicate ceramics by newcomer Luke Fuller, while Flow Gallery is bringing sought-after painterly ceramic vessels by Loewe Craft Prize finalist Akiko Hirai. For jewellery-lovers, Galerie Marzee, from the Netherlands, is a necessary destination, offering witty pieces from the legendary Dorothea Prühl, including three necklaces: the gold and titanium Schwäne and Frösche and gold and steel Fisch (€24,000-€26,000). There will also be talks from, among others, sculptural artist Yinka Shonibare and last year’s Loewe Craft Prize winner Jennifer Lee.