Collect Art Fair: Shining a light on the best contemporary craft and design talent

Back for its 19th edition at Somerset House, Collect is one of the world’s most influential art fairs for contemporary craft and design. Bringing together the most exciting galleries and exceptional contemporary artists, the fair showcases striking artwork and thought-provoking projects created in the past five years. The work featured at Collect is about the living artists, the knowledge of their chosen material and the incredible skills they apply to it.  

We went along to discover new talents and trends set to leave a mark on the craft and design world. Keep reading to learn about our favourites. 

New ways with wood 

Inspired by wood as a living, breathing material with its own history, artists are creating contemporary sculptural objects that encourage us to look at nature from a different perspective.  

Using traditional woodworking lathe and chisels alongside modern tools and carving techniques, Eleanor Lakelin, a London-based wood sculptor, builds up layers of texture on her pieces. By sandblasting across the surface, the lighter wood is blasted away, resulting in a type of accelerated erosion which references patterns and lines in landscape and nature.  

Wood turner Darren Appiagyei’s work embraces the beauty of wood, be it a knot, crack, bark or grain. Using pyrography, a mark burning technique, Appiagyei subtly exposes the transition of tone in the grain of wood, resulting in an imperfect piece with incredible detail, texture and depth.  

Telling stories through stitches 

Textile and fibre artists are exploiting the textures and effects made possible through the harnessing of a mechanical process to tell their stories on tapestries.  

Alike Kettle is internationally renowned for being a pioneer of her art from. Having trained as a painter, Kettle started sewing as she had been painting, as that felt the most natural way to work. In her tapestries, tiny individual stiches combine to form painterly backgrounds featuring rich colours and metallic sheen. Kettle’s narratives tell of her own encounters, experiences and the continual process of growth, renewal and hope.  

Suzanne Knight is a Canberra-based artist who initially trained as a printmaker. Her art includes tapestry weaving, Japanese woodblock prints, drawing and painting. Knight’s most recent work raises awareness of environmental concerns of waste, plastic, landfill and recycling, and their consequences on the wildlife that relies on the ocean.  

Art that sparks joy  

Vibrant colours and intriguing textures are the main features of a new wave of ceramics looking to uplift and bring joy. The effects of the pandemic can still be seen, as artists and makers join forces to create decorative objects that reinforce the importance of connection, positivity and nature.  

South Korean ceramic artist Ahryun Lee embraces different perspectives between East and West, tradition and contemporary. Every piece in Lee’s collection has a unique design with bold colours and intricate textures attached to the body individually. Eye-catching and playful, Lee’s pieces instantly create a cheerful energy.  

London-based brand Objekti was born out of the discovery of pine-shaped objects made by some of Mexico’s most talented artisans. Objekti’s pieces are made by hand following ancient pottery techniques dating to the Pre-Columbian period. Inspired by the pine – a symbol of goodwill in Mexico – each piece features elaborate details of incision and appliqué. The whimsical objects are then dyed through a delicate process of mixing glazes with copper and other minerals to create a unique, shiny hue.  

Collect Art Fair is once again showing that craft skills and knowledge enrich and uplift us as individuals. The animated conversations and breadth of work exploring societal issues show that this field is very much alive and continuing to nurture and champion the finest talent.