As part of our St James’s Series for London Craft Week, we are providing some inside access to some of the experts involved in curating the 300 Objects Exhibition. Discover their role in helping to create the largest showcase that London Craft Week has hosted to date and hear how craft has inspired and shaped their life. We spoke to Alice Fisher, Style Correspondent at The Observer Magazine. Read her Q&A below.
What drew you to the 300 Objects Exhibition?
I think it's a great idea for a London Craft Week to give a platform to emerging craftspeople to show their work alongside established names. Artists need all the help they can get right now and this will be valuable exposure for many in the craft community.
What is your stand-out piece from the Exhibition?
It's too hard to pick out just one. Obviously I love Laura Lees' embroidered postcards and Simone Brewster's paintings and sculptural objects because they were two artists I suggested for this show. But the Haus of Lucy ceramics really make me laugh and Darren Appiagyei's woodwork is mesmerising.
What is your favourite / go-to craft brand in St James’s?
St James is an underappreciated area of London's West End - there are so many great brands there. I've always been fond of John Smedley because it's from Derbyshire, like me. Fortnum & Mason Christmas windows are a family tradition.
What makes British craftsmanship so unique and how does the exhibition reflect this?
I love the fact that this show represents traditional crafty crafts such as woodworking, ceramics, basketry, but shows how innovative and varied these artforms can be. I think that's very British – to be connected to heritage but always incorporating influences from other cultures, always trying to improve and modernise.
As a style correspondent, how do you feel craft and style intersect?
Style is a personal thing, what suits you and what makes your individual style has little to do with fashion. I think craft is the same. You can't pretend to be into baskets if you're not. Your motivation for making tends to be deeply personal.
What is it about London that you think makes it an inspiring place for craftspeople?
There are a huge range of cultures and influences bumping up against each other in London. It's diversity is thrilling and inspiring and I think the capital is pretty good about finding space for people to show or create.
Do you have any advice for someone eager to learn more about craft? Favourite books, artists or points of inspiration?
Take every opportunity you can to experiment with different crafts and making techniques from evening classes and community workshops to studio open days. It's only by doing that you learn what you like.
You write a lot about design. Is there a trend you’re particularly excited by?
I just like the fact that the world is waking up to the importance of design. That how you make everything from a vase to a car to a factory has an environmental and social impact.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
It sounds like a cliche, but my mother had a big impact on me. She took such delight in sewing, pottery, painting, knitting, jewellery making. She'd turn her hand to anything with such an open and curious mind. I think that's a vital part of creativity and I'm so glad I saw that from an early age.
There is plenty of activity taking place this autumn to celebrate the culture of craft in your city during London Craft Week. For the best brand events paying homage to craftsmanship, read here, or to discover the latest public art and craft exhibitions taking place, read here.