Thinking about making, Sydney Craft Week

By Penny Craswell

Some of you may know that since April I have been working at the Australian Design Centre. As part of this position, one of my major projects has been to work with the team on a new festival, Sydney Craft Week, which runs until 15 October (there’s still time to check out events over the next three days – see the program).

Woodblock textiles printed in India, Galeecha Cultural Textiles exhibition at UNSW Art & Design, curated by Liz Williamson. Image: courtesy UNSW Art & Design

While exploring how things are made has long been part of my thinking on this blog and in my other writings, it is only now, thanks to Sydney Craft Week, that I have rediscovered my own love of making. When I was a teenager I painted, made candles, dabbled in making mosaics and more. Now I’ve taken up drawing, painting, pottery and knitting and am keen to explore other crafts (all at an amateur level of course). Read more

Review: Under the Sea by Tracey Deep

By Penny Craswell

The gently swaying forms of undersea plant life can contain fascinating folds, crinkles and patterns. Tracey Deep is an artist who sees the beauty in ocean plants, even after they have been washed up on a deserted beach. By making sculptures from these forgotten remnants, she introduces us to a world where even the most stinky seaweed can become a thing of beauty.

Sea Urchin, Tracey Deep, burnt willow. Photo: Nicholas Watts

Sydney artist Tracey Deep’s work was recently shown at Saint Cloche gallery in Sydney. In the exhibition text, Dr Prue Gibson draws parallels with the Cabinets of Curiosity or Wunderkammers of the 17th and 18th Century, calling Deep’s work: “her own cabinet of curious natural specimens”. Read more

Review: Crochet, performance and silly hats with Chili Philly

By Penny Craswell

 

The first solo exhibition of Phil Ferguson AKA Chili Philly at the Australian Design Centre crosses traditional boundaries of art, design, craft and performance.

Pizza by Chili Philly. Read more on The Design Writer blog
Pizza by Chili Philly. Image: courtesy the artist

A series of crochet hats made in bright colours (often in the shape of food or other recognisable fun shapes), the work is simple in some respects, but understanding it as just that would be to sell it short. Ferguson does not make crochet hats as artworks, or even to sell. Instead, he makes the hat, wears the hat and posts an image of himself wearing the hat onto social media. Read more

Object stories: Paper series ceramics by Hayden Youlley

By Penny Craswell

Sydney-based ceramicist Hayden Youlley’s Paper Series translates the random creases from a crumpled piece of paper into an imprint that offers the perfect balance of chaos and control. “I cast this form by hand in porcelain, transforming the often-discarded flawed object, fragile and temporary, into something robust and permanent,” he says.

Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior
Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior

 

Youlley works from his studio in Sydney’s Marrickville, using a slip casting process for his Paper Series as well as his other ranges, Tessalate and I.M Light. Read more

Notes from a design writer in residence

By Penny Craswell

An opportunity to work three days a week from the Australian Design Centre as a writer in residence has given me insight into the organisation’s role in Sydney’s craft and design community, and made me think in new ways about my own role in this community.

Australian Design Centre office, designed by Those Architects
Australian Design Centre office, designed by Those Architects

The Australian Design Centre has been around for decades, first called Craft NSW then Object, before being rebranded last year as part of a move to new premises in William Street. Primarily known for exhibiting a range of work by Australian designers and craft practitioners across a range of themes, some of which go on to tour around Australia, the ADC also holds regular talks and other events, sells work by local makers in their shop, produces educational resources and has a vital role connecting the design community and advocating for design. Read more

Small concrete in Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

Two recent graduates of architecture from Hong Kong University have created All Goods of Concrete, a new range of products exploring the use of concrete in small-scale objects and accessories. Yip Yi Kwan Jennifer and Lee Ka Anthony first started to experiment with concrete when building architectural models at university.

“Concrete appeared to be a dirty and difficult material to handle at the time,” says Jennifer. “Only when we started using it to make study models did we appreciate its simple and pretty texture.”

Mahjong in concrete, by Small Goods of Concrete. Photo: supplied, The Design Writer blog
Mahjong in concrete, by Small Goods of Concrete. Photo: supplied

 

In February 2016, the pair decided to extend their university experimentation with concrete, inspired by architects such as Tadao Ando who use it at a larger scale, pushing the boundaries of the material into industrial design and home decoration.

Read more

Five designer-maker stories from Simple Shape

By Penny Craswell

A wide-ranging discussion with Helen Osgerby, design lover and the brains behind online store Simple Shape, takes in the changing precinct of Deptford in London, serendipitous encounters with like-minded individuals, the role of narrative and storytelling in design, and the (almost literally) polar-opposite weather: balaclava-cold in London, oven-hot in Sydney.

Our rapport is instant, despite the distance, perhaps thanks to Osgerby’s approach to design, which is very much focused on storytelling. “When something has a story attached it, it has a resonance,” explains Osgerby. “That was one of the things that was important in thinking about the business. It’s about quality too – feeling a glass jug is handblown for example, it’s very skilled and unique and incredible.”

ss-EC0000-groupshot-YV030
The pastel ceramics collection by Elliott Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.

The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
I first heard about Simple Shape from Helen’s husband Jay Osgerby, half of London design studio Barber Osgerby, so it’s no surprise to learn that Helen is fully immersed in the design community, with plenty of knowledge and contacts (she tells me a story about working with “jelly architects” Bompas and Parr for an event where they decided it would be great fun to explode some jelly). 
Read more

Object stories: Macadamia wood design by Quench

By Penny Craswell

Quench is a group of Queensland-based designers who have been coming together each year for five years to exhibit their work both in Australia and overseas. In 2015, for the first time, the designers of Quench decided to take a more unified approach, deciding on one material – macadamia wood – and one theme – objects relating to food. The result is a series of objects that are handcrafted and beautiful, creating a truly Australian collection that tells a story. The name of the exhibition, which was shown at Tokyo Designers Week in 2015, is “Table Stories”.

Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied
Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied

For Table Stories, each designer has created a different story to tell. Marc Harrison, known for his Husque tablewares made of processed macadamia shell, has designed a macadamia nut cracker called Dr Crunch. Alexander Lotersztain, an Argentinian-born multi-disciplinary designer working under his brand Derlot, handcrafted Sclpt, a series of four spoons; Jason Bird, who sells furniture and objects under his brand Luxxbox, designed three objects called Vessel; Surya Graf, whose work spans architecture and industrial design, created Hex, a mortal and pestle grinder for fresh spices; and David Shaw, who designs furniture and is founder / director of the Street and Garden Furniture Co, created Prop, a sculptural object for holding hot food as well as a tea candle. Read more

Irish Design at Tent London

By Penny Craswell

At Tent London during the London Design Festival, I was impressed to see the high quality of Irish design at a government-funded exhibition organised by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Called ‘Ó’, meaning ‘from’ in Gaelic, the exhibition’s focus was on design informed by decades-old craft techniques, remote locations and local materials. And they didn’t just show the finished works, but also presented live demonstrations of the crafts practitioners at work.

Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied
Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied

I saw ceramicist Adam Frew throw a beautiful bowl on the wheel and everyone around was mesmerised – with very few watching through their phones (rare in this day and age!). He prefers to work by throwing pots, using white porcelain, because it allows him to be fast and spontaneous in his making: “It is important to maintain a flow in the production while constantly developing the work. It is an on-going journey with every new piece inspired by the previous form,” says Adam (ref: Give Irish Craft). Read more