London Craft Week: My Best-Of, Part I
As a French woman, can I admit to have a deep love of London? The city just seems to have a certain grittiness that makes it very real, very ‘local,’ very welcoming to the visitor. Fewer beautiful people than in Paris, narrower streets and subway cars that give you no choice but to be really close (at times a bit too close) to the locals. Londoners are not natural on-the-subway conversationists, but seem to delight in it when you engage them. And you’ve got to love their quirkiness… and their gardens!
The London Craft Week (LCW) program took us across the city from Bank to Kensal Green, Southwark to Mayfair.
With over 300 ateliers, workshops, artists’ demonstrations, lectures and exhibits, it was impossible to do it all.
We chose to concentrate on jewelry-related activities but could not pass on the opportunity to visit the private members club at The Ned for a glass blowing demonstration, Louboutin boutique for spectacular wood painted bowls, Little Alstock for furniture design and marquetry handbags.
A Forest in the Fitzrovia
It was an almost mystical experience.
Opening night found us at the astonishing Fitzrovia chapel for a spectacular exhibit of scorched wood furniture and art objets by international artists. The chapel, with its over-the-top decorations of mosaics, marbles and stain glass, is an intimate space with the cool temperature only experienced in religious buildings. Due to its history, it currently finds itself at the center of a courtyard surrounded by modern apartment buildings. The contrast is astounding.
Invited curator for LCW Sarah Myerscough, aimed to create “a densely forested installation that will silhouette against the highly figured marble and gold mosaic of the chapel.”
The eye naturally went from the floor-level scorched wood pieces resting on a discreetly shimmering sand and lit up in an almost ghostly way, up along the marble walls of the chapel to rest on the rutilant mosaic ceiling and the benevolent look of the angels. It was an almost mystical experience. Myerscough’s aim for “the intrinsic and modest beauty of the wood to truly shine when juxtaposed with this decadent chapel interior” is unarguably on point.
Three jewelers transformed raw materials into objets d’art, to create 3 spectacular brooches through a ‘blind process.’ The result was nothing short of spectacular.
LCW is the perfect opportunity for artists to innovate and the LOT1 Collective seized the opportunity. Jewelers Sarah Pulvertaft and Jed Green, and embroiderer Beatrice Mayfield pulled together their techniques and ability to transform raw materials into objets d’art, to create 3 spectacular brooches through a ‘blind process.’ Each artist started a piece of work, then in sequence passed it to each other, only seeing the result of all contributions together for the final stage of making. The result was nothing short of spectacular. Set at Retrouvius, an architectural salvage and vintage store, the experience was exquisite in spite of unrelenting rain. Once in the space, we felt the warmth and welcome of the artists, lost ourselves into the magic of their art and went home with treasures.
What secrets were kept in these boxes?
The lure of meeting Faberge’s great granddaughter was too strong to resist. Her and her son were present to share with us some delicious pieces of the new collection. I wish they had spent more time sharing the extraordinary story of their ancestors and company (the event felt a bit too much like a sales pitch for pieces that surely no one buys on the fly). Nonetheless, learning about the challenges of doing Guilloche enamelling on small rounded surface was a great discovery for me. As was the thrill of opening an egg pendant to reveal a ladybug, sliding an enormous emerald on my finger and chatting with one of the company’s designer who dreams off these treasures.
The most extraordinary part of the event was its venue: the vault of the Midland Bank building in the City, now converted into a hotel and private members club ‘The Ned,’ named after the building’s architect Sir Edwin “Ned” Luytens. The size of the vault door, the rows after rows of private safes — who were the owners? What secrets were kept in these boxes? What happened to them? Is it possible that one of them has not been emptied by mistake and still contains someone’s love letters or family jewels? The imagination runs wild.
In London Craft Week Best-Of Part II I will share with you the makers of Cockpit Arts and Studio Fusion Gallery, Jessica McCormack’s Mayfair haunt and much more. Stay tuned.