Collect 2022 / 4 newcomers
TDE selects four impressive designers debuting at this year's collectible contemporary craft fair.
Online: 23rd February-6th March 2022
Somerset House, London: 25th-27th February 2022
THE ARRIVAL OF Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design, is always a herald of spring and this year, after the longest of hibernations, its physical presence within the neoclassical splendour of Somerset House feels particularly spirit-lifting.
As we have come to expect in these times, Collect 2022 will be a hybrid event, with an online talks programme and virtual galleries accessed via the digital platform Artsy. Some of the 40 participating galleries will be exhibiting on-line only, but the vast majority will be there in person, displaying work from all corners of globe in a celebration of the very best in collectible contemporary craft.
This year, Collect welcomes an unprecedented number of artists making their Collect debut. TDE introduces four of them, all of them using their lived experience to create work that pushes notions of what contemporary craft can be.
Anthony Amoako-Attah, appearing with Bullseye Projects
The folds in Anthony Amoako-Attah’s material-defying glass panels are important. A Ghanaian-born PhD student at the University of Sunderland, Attah came to the UK in 2014 to do a Masters in glass, having specialised in ceramics in his home country. “I was the only black guy in the class,” he says, “and the only guy too. I couldn’t understand the accent, it was rainy and cold and I didn’t know anything about glass at all. The folds in my work speak of this sense of dislocation and my process of integration.”
Attah was first drawn to glass because of its associations with preservation and value. “Glass is a language people understand – when you go to museums or science labs, precious things are stored behind and beneath it,” he explains. “I was interested in using it to store my culture.” His lack of material knowledge was both a challenge (when he first arrived on the course, he spent 11 hours a day in the studio honing his technical skills) and an opportunity; not knowing the rules freed him to work in more unconventional, experimental ways.
The panels he is showing at Collect came out of both this learn-by-doing approach and his desire to capture his culture. “At home in Ghana, the colours and patterns of different fabrics tell stories and I wanted to create work in glass that looks like woven cloth as a way of talking about my identity,” he says. “These pieces are screen printed, using glass powders to give the matt finish. I create the designs in Illustrator, make a glass impression, then transfer the designs onto the screens. Every colour has its own screen and I take my time printing, it’s like I’m dancing.”
Represented by Bullseye Projects. Prices range £9,500 – £14,500
Zein Daouk, appearing with Pik’d
Zein Daouk is a multi-disciplinary architect based in Beirut who has been creating ceramic objects that sit on the border between function and sculpture for over two decades. However, it wasn’t until 2019, driven by a trio of difficult life events, that she began to take her work in clay more seriously. “I injured my neck, then in October, there was the revolution and right after that the port blast destroyed my studio,” she says. “Ceramics offered an escape. I created a new studio in a beautiful, very quiet, 120-year-old building and I started making a new world.”
Daouk called this world ‘The Third Kingdom’. A study in shape and colour, each piece is inspired by a species of fungus. “Like most architects, I am a builder of stories,” she explains. “The world of fungi is based on creating symbiotic relationships – on healing the world – and I needed healing and kindness when I made these.”
These objects are playful and organic and come in joyous hues created by a time-consuming process of layering and firing multiple colours (there are six in the shining yellow of ‘Cantharellus’), but when encountered in person, it is their surprising fragility that stands out. Formed from a combination of hand building, slab work, coiling and wheel throwing, each one turns out, like the fungi they are based on, to be as light as air.
Represented by Pik’d. Price range £500 – £2,500
Ryosuke Harashima, appearing with Micheko Galerie (online only)
In 2018, Japanese furniture designer Ryosuke Harashima came across some old tools in a local antique shop. Struck by their beauty but also their irrelevance in the modern world, he embarked on the art project that has led him to Collect. “I use old objects as motifs because I am inspired by the passage of time reflected in them,” he explains. “In that sense I am not interested in creating something out of nothing by myself. I believe we humans have already made wonderful things and I want to share them.”
The starting point for both ‘Lost in Reflection’ and ‘My Little Bunny’ was a set of old lacquer boxes. Harashima has taken these utilitarian objects, set them into an architectural, polished copper frame and embellished them with exquisitely coloured, hand painted designs. In the case of the ‘Lost in Reflection’ stool, the painting – which he calls a ‘secret garden’ – is immediately visible, both on the edge of the box and reflected in the gleaming brass frame; with the ‘My Little Bunny’ cabinet, it is hidden; a treat for those curious enough to peer inside each stacked drawer.
“The presence of the secret garden changes the way we perceive the work,” he says. “These pieces are not just a redesign; they are about updating the value of existence.”
Represented by Micheko Galerie. Prices range from €6,000- €8,000.
Agustina Ros, appearing with North Lands Creative
“I went into craft, rather than fine art, because I want to blur the lines between maker and viewer,” says Agustina Ros, the Argentinian co-founder of the Barcelona Glass Workshop. “I want people to wear my jewellery and use my objects. The reason I chose glass as my material is because it needs light to come alive.”
Working primarily with borosilicate and cut glass, Ros combines traditional techniques such as engraving, mirroring and flamework in unusual ways to form a unique dialogue with her material. Continually experimenting, her most recent discovery is a process known as ‘fuming’ – the vaporisation of metal on glass – which allows her to create a myriad of reflective effects on clear glass.
The work she is bringing to Collect is the result of a – very successful – attempt to vaporise gold. “I am in love with gold right now,” she says. “I love the brightness it creates, but it also makes the glass warmer. Glass can seem cold and I wanted warmth for these pieces because all of them are useful – the jewellery is wearable and the ‘Pink Bubble Objects’ are meant for daily life.”
Daily life but not quite as we know it. There is a playful, fantastical element to all these pieces – the ‘Pink Bubble Objects’ conjure a tea party in Wonderland, while the oversized rings gleam and shine in the light, inviting the wearer to interact.
As for the risk of breakages, for Ros that’s part of the point. “I experimented for ages to make sure the glass is as durable as possible,” she says, “but of course, it is still glass. If you drop one of these pieces, it might break. But it might not and that’s beautiful!”
Represented by North Lands Creative. Prices range from £35-£200.