The ‘Contemporary Narratives’ exhibition celebrates the culmination of a collaborative project between the Crafts Study Centre and MA and MRes Crafts students from the School of Craft and Design. Students were invited to explore the Centre’s collections and archives by engaging with the work of an individual contemporary maker through observation, research, and visual analysis of a selected object. Some students were attracted by the formal qualities of a piece, whilst others were drawn to its historical significance, and sometimes choice was determined by a purely emotional reaction. The result was an eclectic selection of objects that provide a fascinating insight into the artistic endeavours, source materials and innovative creativity of notable artist-makers such as Bernard Leach, Hans Coper, Elizabeth Peacock, Peter Collingwood, Ann Marie Shillito, William Simmonds and Ann Richards.
Initially the focus of the project was on the object, but research naturally extended to the makers and their personal and professional histories. A narrative evolved from these individual circumstances, and the nature and impact of the often very different social, political, economic and cultural contexts. Students discovered the inspiration for and influences on the development of ideas and practice, and how combined with imagination and outstanding levels of skill these artist-makers became innovators within their respective fields. It was these narratives that students have sought to re-tell and re-craft through words, images and objects, and in the process have created another narrative personal to themselves and their individual practice.
This exhibition showcases the outcomes of this intensive research, and displays a diverse range of artworks in ceramics, glass, textiles, jewellery, and metal work chosen by students: Mike Barrett, Mona Craven, Jo Hannah Shao-Ling Ho, Jane Howard, Brigitte Kaltenbacher, Loucia Manopoulou, Candida Matterson, Alice McIlroy, Disha Seth, Cara Wassenberg and Diana Williams.