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Modular Mechanics series by James Shaw
15th September 2017

Crafts Council: The New Materiality

It takes an imaginative mind and curious spirit to see a pile of human hair and think: ‘I could print with that’. Or to spy a bag of ice and to ponder whether it could be used to cast plaster. But for the seven makers exhibiting at The New Materiality – a Crafts Council showcase at the first ever Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair in Basel – this kind of uninhibited experimentation is at the very heart of their practice.

The aforementioned ink is a project called The Colour of Hair by Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters, who met on the Design Products programme at the Royal College of Art. The duo found that by carbonising the keratin in hair (both animal and human) into hardened aluminium they could create etching-like surface prints, using the material to form tables, trays and even a flooring system, especially for TRESOR.

The Colour of Hair

The Colour of Hair is not the only discovery featured in The New Materiality that's both ingenious and beautiful. Natsai Audrey Chieza’s Faber Futures investigates how the pigment properties of bacteria can be used to dye fabric – a continuation of an ongoing project to discover environmentally and socially responsible dying processes. Adam Guy Blencowe will exhibit a range tables and vases from his Thaw series, which adds ice to the plaster casting process to produce a puckered surface resembling moon rock. 

You can also catch Adam as part of Corinne Julius' Future Heritage at Decorex for LDF.

Adam Guy Blencowe's Thaw series

Laura Youngson Coll, a finalist for the inaugural Woman’s Hour Craft Prize, will exhibit Morphogenesis, her series of vellum and leather sculptures that investigate the intricate architecture of microorganisms. Developed during a residency in Cumbria, The Modular Mechanics series by James Shaw is a cunning system for joining modular blocks that allow for infinite possibilities in furniture making. You can also catch Shaw’s work as part of LDF show Ready Made Go 3, a collaboration between Modern Design Review and Ace Hotel that sees five designers make new products for the hotel.

Also with a Cumbrian connection but of slightly more sombre subject matter, Yesenia Thibault-Picazo’s Cumbrian Bone Marble is a composite made from Gypsum-based synthetic marble and cattle bones. It was inspired by the Foot and Mouth disease epidemic where a million cattle carcasses were buried in the Cumbrian countryside. Her project imagines artefacts of the future where this material is mined. Turkish weaver Esna Su, who is now based in London, also uses her work to discuss bigger social topics. Her Burden Bags are delicate lace sacks that reference the belongings carried by women refugees fleeing Syria  – a tribute to people displaced from their homes.

The Cumbria Bone Marble Miner by Yesenia Thibault-Picazo

The New Materiality is part of a wider programme called A Future Made, which aims to promote exceptional UK craft in Europe and the US. It’s an ongoing partnership between Crafts CouncilThe New CraftsmenCraft Scotland and the Ruthin Craft Centre, that will also include an exhibition in Miami through December.

Ensa Su
For more information about the show, visit www.craftscouncil.org.uk

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