Hatched at Manchester Craft & Design Centre: A maker's dozen

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Ceramic wolf figurines

Untamed jewellery, mythological ceramics and steam-bent wood – we preview Hatched, a stunning-sounding contemporary craft exhibition.

We live our lives surrounded by the machine-made and mass produced. The corporate logo has all but replaced the print of the maker’s thumb. Yet, the art of craft is far from dead or dull, as an exhibition showcasing the work of twelve emerging designer-makers is set to demonstrate.

Hatched, opening at the Manchester Design and Craft Centre on 11 September (preview 10 September, runs until 9 November), combines the slowness and one-off beauty of the handmade, with the fresh inflections of a new wave of talent. From jewellery made from fossilised shark teeth, latex and hair, to vessels exploring the relationships and rituals behind fine dining; contemporary craft is far more than just a kitsch “stitch ‘n bitch”.

The culmination of a six-month programme led by the Crafts Council, Hatched will include work by members of the group Hothouse 5 – here’s our run down of the incredible designer-makers on show.

An exhibition showcasing the work of twelve emerging designer-makers

Photo of designer-maker Judith Wilson at work on the loom

Judith Watson. Judith’s practice spans multiple disciplines – including knit, felting, carpet-making, print and photography – through which she explores the cultural crossovers between past and present. Her bespoke textiles are characterised by a deeply anthropological interest, mixing different cultures and traditions through unusual, surprising and striking blends of patterns and materials. (Photo: Judith Watson at work in her studio)

Jo Gordon. A graduate from the Birmingham School of Jewellery, Jo set up her luxury handmade jewellery line, Fera Jewellery, in 2014. Taking its name from the Latin word for ‘wild’, ‘untamed’ or ‘savage’, the brand is unique for its at once gothic, contemporary, exotic, elegant and dark designs. Jo works only with ethical and sustainable materials, ranging from Fairtrade gold and recycled silver to, more unusually, hand-carved cow bone – typically conceived of as waste substance within modern Western culture, these materials are elevated to a thing of beauty through her work.

Designer-maker Tom Phillipson in his carpentry workshop

Tom Philipson. Tiring of his previous career as a Georgian furniture conservator, restorer and cabinet maker, Tom now applies the traditional skills and techniques he’s trained in to create new, sculptural designs of his own. Much of his work has a strangely abstract quality, suggestive of forms lifted from the deep sea, outer space or the insect kingdom. Remaining committed to the values of longevity and restoration, Tom’s pieces are made using reclaimed wood from around the world, Cumbrian timber and broken, un-repairable furniture bought from local sales rooms. (Photo: Tom Philipson in his workshop)

Photo of designer-maker Jasmine with a ceramic in her studio

Jasmine Simpson. Ceramicist and illustrator Jasmine creates animal figurines inspired by her own interpretation of the fables and mythological stories she was told as a child, as well as the rich heritage of the Staffordshire pottery industry where she grew up in Stoke on Trent. Using slip cast earthenware decorated with coloured slip, etching, sgraffito, colour glaze, applied enamels and lustres, Jasmine’s designs are at once delicate and wild, fragile and untamed. (Photo: Jasmine Simpson in her studio)

A slatted chair designed by Studio LW

Studio LW. Studio LW is a collaboration between London-based furniture designer-makers, Emma Leslie and Rhiannon Wilkey. Together their work shares a beautifully simple, clean aesthetic, in which function and form are inseparably tied. Having both trained in cabinet making at The Building Crafts College in Stratford, their primary focus is on the quality of craftsmanship, which in turn seems almost the defining subject of every piece that they make. Chairs, cupboards and shelves all sing out to be touched, sat upon, opened or used. (Photo: Studio LW – slatted chair)

Shot from above of jewellery maker Libby Ward

Libby Ward. Unlike many of the others among the selection, Libby draws upon a range of relatively modern techniques and chemical processes in the making of her jewellery, including electroforming, etching and patination, to create seemingly organic, biologically-inspired designs and surfaces. Her pieces have an almost rustic, primitive look, produced through a process of on-going experimentation, combining unlikely materials such as resin, silicon, moss, latex, squirrel tail, spider and hair. (Photo: Libby Ward in her studio)

Beatrix Baker. Beatrix’s practice crosses over from pure craft into the realm of sculpture. Inspired by the skill and ingenuity required to build complex structures such as ships, boats and vessels, she has spent a great deal of time researching these traditional methods of construction and speaking to those who still continue to practice them. Her sculptures are made from steam-bent Cumbrian wood and explore tension and curves, joins and dowels. They often incorporate found objects such as spools of thread, metal and jesmonite, and together share a playful, light quality.

Woman standing doing screen printing

Katherine Lees Ceramics. Graduating from the Manchester School of Art in 2012, and based at Rogue Studios (behind Piccadilly train station), Katherine creates pieces driven by her interest in old charms, amulets, and the symbols and beliefs that we attach to these objects. Her handmade vessels and jewellery pieces, made using Victorian bottle moulds and ceramic screen printing techniques, incorporate Victorian bone china Frozen Charlotte dolls, ornate pass keys and birds, bringing old discarded objects back to life as wearable, usable objects intended to bring good fortune. (Photo: Katherine Lees screen printing. Image courtesy the maker and Manchester Evening News)

Simon Wilks. Fascinated by the relationships and rituals that underpin the art of fine dining, designer and ceramicist Simon creates finely formed tableware, created to tie the elements of food, conversation and dining experience closely together. Alive to the delicacies of presentation, his pieces are situated upon beautifully treated wood (either polished mahogany, laminated ply or burnt oak), and accompanied by hand crafted spoons, spatulas and scoops.

BLH ceramics. After working as a London-based graphic designer and illustrator for 16 years, specialising in information graphics and typographic design, Lynne Hutchinson then took a career break to have children, and joined an adult education pottery class. Here she discovered a passion for the form, and now spends her days making clay, stoneware and porcelain vessels inspired by a love of mid-century British and Scandinavian design. Each piece is overlaid using a masterful set of intricate, technically challenging surface treatments, such as inlay and sgraffito, as well as carefully hand-drawn, etched patterns.

Stephanie Lawton holds up a screen print

Stephanie Lawton. Working from her studio at Hot Bed Press (in Salford), surface pattern designer Stephanie uses a range of modern techniques and digital technologies to transpose her own rather ornate, Victoriana hand-drawn designs onto a prolific range of ceramics, tiles, soft furnishings and wall coverings. Her work has a graphic, illustrative quality, combining the bespoke quality of the maker’s touch with the print-produced. (Photo: Stephanie Lawton in her studio)

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