Portrait of Orkney

Image: Mary Butcher.

The New Craftsmen presents ‘Portrait of Place: Orkney’, a new collection which celebrates the profound connection between craft and place, and the ancient straw- working traditions of these remote Islands.

The project began with a residency in May 2019, and saw furniture designer Gareth Neal and basket makers Annemarie O’ Sulllivan and Mary Butcher journey to Orkney with The New Craftsmen’s Creative Director Catherine Lock to spend time with local craftspeople, including furniture maker Kevin Gauld and sculptor Frances Pelly, to create a body of work pervaded with the heart and soul of these Islands.

The result is The Orkney Collection encompassing lighting, furniture, and artworks, presented in a dynamic exhibition produced by renowned set designer Simon Costin at The New Craftsmen’s Mayfair store. The collection is also available online.

During her time on the Orkney residency, basket maker Mary Butcher spent time meeting with local makers, learning about their processes and becoming immersed in their world. Upon her return, Mary gathered materials that reminded her of the textures and hues of the Islands, such as a type of field rush sourced from Shetland, which is stained by the colour of the local earth. This type of rush was imported to Orkney for centuries to be used as sewing twine.

The New Craftsmen was established in 2012 as a platform for genuine and meaningful craft, playfully imagined and properly made by artisans of the British Isles. Founded on a belief in the joyful, enduring value of finely crafted wares, its pioneering initiative has grown to become a substantial community of makers with a rich variety of expertise, including textiles, furniture and pottery, lighting and artwork.

With its makers The New Craftsmen develops collections that reinvent traditional techniques and create contemporary work imbued with the specific cultures and places in which they take shape.

Portrait of a Place: Orkney, The New Craftsmen until 31 October

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