I finally got round to visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum this weekend to see the exhibition of finalists in the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize.
Launched in 2017 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Woman’s Hour, the prize seeks to “reward originality and excellence in concept, design and process and to recognise a craft practitioner or designer-maker who is an outstanding artist and who has significantly contributed to craft practice in the last five years”.
The winner of the £10,000 prize was Phoebe Cummings for her fountain made from raw clay. The fountain is turned on at noon each day for one minute, so it erodes and dissolves over time.
Predictably, the work that appealed most to me was by Laura Youngson Coll. Her sculptures of microscopic marine organisms, made from goat vellum, were inspired by Haeckel.
Romilly Saumarez Smith is a jeweller who combines precious metals and other materials with found objects to create organic or natural forms.
Also very organic was the large scale willow sculpture by Laura Ellen Bacon.
Andrea Walsh combines glass and bone china to make beautiful delicate and translucent boxes and vessels.
Another finalist, Celia Pym, uses darning, knitting and embroidery to mend other people’s clothes, drawing out memories and meanings through the process.
In an adjoining room there was a drop-in workshop displaying clothes that people had brought in for Celia to mend throughout the exhibition.
Now, fond as I am of upcycling, I’ve never been a great mender of clothes (it takes me forever to get round to sewing on buttons that have come off). My mum used to have a darning mushroom in her workbox, though I have to confess I never saw her use it.
However, by coincidence, between Christmas and new year I did patch a pair of much loved jeans by sewing an extra piece of denim on the inside and then stitching over the top. Do you think it will show? 😉
After seeing the exhibition I was inspired to have a go at mending a very holey cashmere sweater. There are still a lot of holes to go – it will probably end up more purple than grey by the time I’ve finished. 🙂
ESP has offered me some socks if I want more darning practice but I have to draw the line somewhere!
The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition at the V&A runs until Monday 5 February.