Feeling crafty — or just want to ogle at the abilities of others infinitely more talented?
London Craft Week returns from 8 to 14 May with a bumper edition of 400 events showcasing the work of more than 700 artists and makers, from weavers and ceramicists to cordwainers and lapidarists (better look those up before you go).
It comes amidst a craft renaissance that has seen a surge of interest in once-naff pastimes like felting and mosaic, as well as a keener awareness of provenance.
You’ll have to be speedy to book into a workshop, but less hands-on delights include exhibitions, open studios, walking tours and talks. Here are the highlights.
The international stars
The star visitor is surely Seoul-based Dahye Jeong, winner of the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize 2022, who weaves impossibly light vessels and objets from horsehair.
This is craft at its most committed — the basket that won her the gong took two months to complete. A selection of her works will be presented by Soluna Crafts at Cromwell Place, from 10 to 14 May.
SCP has invited Dutch artist Floris Wubben to exhibit at its Shoreditch showroom. Wubben works in clay, but don’t call him a ceramicist — his sturdy stools, tables (and yes, vases) dance at the very fringes of the discipline. There are still tickets for the talk with ELLE Decoration’s Clare Sartin, on 11 May. SCP, from 9 to 13 May.
“Using an unyielding material to achieve my delicate pieces thrills me,” said Danish-Italian ceramic artist Sandra Davolio of the vessels she produces by thumbing wet porcelain into coral-like pleats (above). Marvel at the method at Modernity’s Belgravia gallery, from 9 to 13 May.
The new district
If you’ve had your fill of slick central galleries, head to Park Royal.
This north west London neighbourhood was once a little short on studios and showrooms, but a burgeoning community — think leatherworker Bill Amberg and colour king Yinka Ilori, who moved in last year — is doing wonders for its design cred.
The weekend will see a flurry of free walking tours, a marketplace to pick up pieces by local makers and workshops on everything from denim upcycling to family woodworking.
Craft Week has clearly put its weight behind some big-hitters, too — exhibitions include ‘Park Royal Clay’, a display of pieces made with raw clay extracted from vast local regeneration projects like Old Oak, and ‘Future Craft’, a forward-looking fusion of technology and time-worn techniques.
‘No park, no royals’ is the timely tagline. 12 to 13 May, Park Royal.
The craft in focus
Move over ceramicists — many of our must-see makers are wielding a needle and thread.
Quilters are well-represented across the festival, with Pemberton Qwilts exhibiting at Pinch (8 and 10 to 13 May), and Hackney Road’s Batsford Gallery showcasing contemporary quiltmaking at state-of-the-craft exhibition ‘Quilts: A Material Culture’, on 9, 10 and 12 to 14 May.
There are still spots on Chelsea Quilting Club’s introductory workshop (£30, 12 May) if you want to have a go yourself.
For textiles that would baffle your nan, we suspect there will be experimental delights (think human hair) at the Sarabande Foundation’s ‘WARPED’ exhibition, which features three studio residents — jeweller Megan Brown, interdisciplinary artist Anouska Samms and designer Martina Spetlova — and an interactive loom that will allow visitors to create an abstract work together. From 12 to 14 May.
At its heart London Craft Week is a celebration of those who live, work and exhibit in the capital, so expect plenty of craft that’s rooted in community.
‘Colours of Home’ is a new public installation in Poplar from artist Lola Lely, who has worked with locals to dress the Aberfeldy area in hemp cloth banners stained with natural dyes. In the process they have proved that public art need not be wasteful or perfunctory. See it from 8 May onwards.
For those without the time or impetus to schlep across the city, there is a neat pairing of open studios in De Beauvoir Town at the weekend.
Innovative furniture maker Brodie Neill will be showcasing ‘upcycled centrepieces’ at his canal-side atelier, while Gareth Neal will be challenging what you thought possible in wood from his Lawford Road studio, both 12 to 13 May.
Finally to honorary Londoner Vivienne Westwood, whose archival corsets will be on display at the brand’s Conduit Street store. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. From 8 to 21 May.
The full London Craft Week programme can be found here.