We are surrounded by the word craft today – whether on food packaging in supermarkets or luxury brands, galleries to gift shops to hobbies at home. What is craft and why does it matter to us today: is it a product or a process? Is it always something handmade? Is it just a marketing buzzword? The exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, aims to challenge preconceptions, spark interest and inspire debate about the role craft can play in culture, identity and society.

'Why does craft matter today?’, is the question the inaugural Harewood Biennial, curated by design critic Hugo Macdonald, posed when it launched at Harewood House this month. Of the twenty-six exhibits which will be shown throughout the house, Useful/Beautiful will feature three commissioned, site-specific works from renowned craft pioneers Anthony Burrill, Faye Toogood and Max Lamb. The works are from some of the most exciting and diverse contemporary British-based makers, across fashion, textiles, woodwork, glass, ceramics, metalwork, furniture and paper.

Useful/Beautiful is a multi-generational overview of excellence in craft today, demonstrating artistry in a unique way. Each room of the 18th century Treasure House will host a different exhibitor whose work responds in some way to their site, for example, Andy Singleton’s paper sculptures will hang in the Main Library and Jenny King’s Irish embroidery will be shown alongside one of Erdem’s dresses in Princess Mary’s Dressing Room.

The exhibition takes place in the heart of Yorkshire, England. Harewood House was formerly the home of Princess Mary, Queen Elizabeth II’s aunt, and provides a charming backdrop to the exhibits.

Photography by Jo Randall.

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