I know this is a terrible thing to say, but there’s too much good stuff on right now. I just caught the last day of Diane Arbus at The Hayward (brilliant). Just missed Don McCullin at the Tate (gutted). And now London Craft Week has snuck up on me and I’m nowhere near ready for it.
London Craft Week is now in its fifth year, a festival of all things artisanal and considered, with the additional backing of some heavyweight sponsors including Dunhill and Purdey to give it that extra push. This year also sees a lot more fashion involvement, but in fact there’s a wealth of niche, luxury and global crafts events to explore.
The press breakfast was held this morning at Fitzrovia Chapel (above). A jewel box of a chapel, it was originally part of the Middlesex Hospital that was razed to the ground by property developers Candy & Candy. As a listed building (it was built in 1891) the chapel remained intact, at one point a forlorn sight in this vast expanse of Fitrovia nothingness once the recession of 2008 put paid to the Candy brothers’ redevelopment plans. The chapel is now a vision of Byzantine-esque golden-tiled, stained glass wonder, which you can savour for yourself if you swing by the ‘Scorched’ exhibition and various talks happening for the duration of London Craft Week (until 12 May).
Onto my pick of the gazillions of events happening during the week. Many places have week-long activities taking place, while others are hosting timed talks, workshops etc which may need to be booked. Unsurprisingly, retailers have jumped on London Craft Week with gusto, so there are whole streets on board. For example, Mount Street, where Pringle of Scotland will be hosting a demo of hand intarsia knitting (with a side of whiskey tasting) tomorrow that I know will be brilliant having experienced similar at London Fashion Week (book here).
Nearby in New Bond Street the three-storey Casa Loewe flagship store is a major craft destination and a loyal supporter of London Craft Week. Not surprising really, as creative director Jonathan Anderson is a personal collector of all manner of craft (and now a trustee of the V&A Museum). This weekend you can witness live leather basket-making demos using Japanese weaving techniques from the mother-daughter team of Shizu Designs (below). More info here.
Meanwhile, on my doorstep in West London I’m making a beeline for Celia Pym’s ‘mend project’ at Toast in Westbourne Grove. A textile artist who advocates a make-do-and-mend philiosophy, there will be a display of customers’ knitwear pieces mended by Pym, accompanied by their personal stories. Her work is amazing, so this will be cooler than it sounds, I promise!
Nearby at Couverture on Kensington Park Road, there’s a tile-painting workshop and talk by London-based ceramicist Miyu Kurihara tomorrow from 11am-1pm (£25, book here). Kurihara’s work (below) is inspired by kimono designs and traditional Asian ceramic craft and you may well find yourself seduced into buying a souvenir to take home.
On Saturday I’m planning to head to Kensington High Street to catch the enticingly named Living Colours: Kasane – The Language of Japanese Colour Combination exhibition at Japan House London. A lesson in the art of natural dyeing, it focuses on Kyoto’s 200-year-old family-run Yoshioka Dyeing Workshop. (BTW, that place is a serious credit card batterer, so I’ll be leaving my wallet at home.) Nearby is a Today At Apple talk taking place at the Design Museum, discussing the role of craft in an age of digital tools (Saturday, from 2-330pm, free but booking required.)
Over in South Kensington, The Conran Shop is celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus with a five-day installation of live screen printing by print experts, Make-Ready, and a talk from graphic designer Sascha Lobe tomorrow at 6.30pm (Free, but booking required.)
There are soooo many more events. Also on my wish list… chocolate tasting at Alain Ducasse, create your own ‘sleep oil’ at Anatome, rifle engraving at Purdey, how to make a Caran Dache pencil, a sniff around Dunhill’s leather workshops and a female founders pop-up and panel talk at the Allbright club with the fab Anna Garner on the panel.
Here’s the entire programme of events and good luck getting your head around it all!
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Pringle of Scotland, Fitzrovia Chapel, Loewe, Miyu Kurihara
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