Image: Becky Dodman Wainwright, Bex (detail). Tufted rug using a mix of acrylic and Axminster yarns, latex and canvas. 45 x 55cm.
The Devon Guild of Craftsmen is presenting ‘Making It’, an exhibition of work by 21 emerging artists, makers and designers in the South West, celebrating the innovation, diversity and collaboration present in contemporary craft and making. Many of the selected makers have recently undertaken career changes to focus full time on their practice or are recent graduates. The varied works on show, including textiles inspired by tea leaf readings and 3D printed scar tissue, both subvert and expand upon the traditional understanding of what constitutes craft today and those who create it.
The 2021 exhibitors, all of whom are resident in the South West, were selected from 72 submissions by a panel drawn from creative organisations across the area. They were asked to respond to one or more of the themes of diversity, innovation and collaboration in their submission, as well as meeting the criteria of having either graduated/finished training, or being self-taught and having started their career within the last five years.
Image: Becky Dodman Wainwright, Rufus (detail). Tufted rug using a mix of acrylic and Axminster yarns, latex and canvas.
Becky Dodman Wainwright uses tasseography, a fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, alongside her own illustrated tealeaf dictionary and a collection of bold colours, to create vivid geometric textiles. Her tufted and tapestry art combine new technologies with traditional craft to produce bespoke psychedelic energetic artworks that also act as abstract portraits of her subjects.
The tea leaf reading design process gives participants the space to embrace the lesser-known aspects of themselves, removing preconceptions of what they may like designed for them, to design with them, encouraging them to explore an infinite number of ideas through a set of stimuli. In so doing Becky has wanted to focus less on the illustrative, representational self, and focus more on the abstract part of ourselves.
Katie Allen’s knitted designs are handmade in her Gloucestershire studio using the wool from her flock of rare breed sheep. Truly circular in her work, which she deems ‘soil-to-soil’, Allen’s bold geometric patterns are shown alongside undyed pieces, used in her Fibreshed certified collection, only one of two in the UK, to showcase the natural colours her flock’s fleeces produce and is rooted in the South West of England throughout every stage of her sustainable production.
She says: ‘Every product envelops the journey of my shepherding life. From delivering beautiful lambs and watching their fleeces grow throughout the season, to shearing time and handing over my wool clip to the mill. When I run the threads of yarn through my hands on the knitting machine, knowing I've spent the year caring for the animals that produced it, I feel a profound connection to my work.'