Eight third year BA (Hons) Contemporary Crafts students from Plymouth College of Art have worked together to curate Echo, a public exhibition of work from the Crafts Council Collection, in The Gallery at the college.
Students on the Contemporary Crafts degree programme came up with the idea of approaching the Crafts Council to create a themed exhibition of work from their national collections and were then invited to apply for places curating the event.
The Crafts Council’s goal is to make the UK the best place to make, see, collect and learn about contemporary craft and their collections are one of the most expansive and significant collections of contemporary craft in the UK.
One of the students that curated the event was Frances Phillips, from Whitchurch, Tavistock, who said: “Seeing a completed art exhibition and being able to interact with a private collection behind the scenes, choosing works of art and how best to display them, are two very different things. As soon as I heard that we’d be able to work with the private collection of a prestigious organisation like the Crafts Council, I knew that I wanted to participate.”
The other Plymouth College of Art Contemporary Crafts students involved in curating the exhibition were Joanne Tyler, Sarah-Jane Rossi, Sybella Buttress, Helen Creedy, Fern Robinson, Sophie Holland, and Kate Lyons-Miller.
“I originally chose to study Contemporary Crafts so that I could try working in a lot of different mediums,” Frances said of her degree.
“Over time at the college I’ve really honed in on jewellery as the area that most interests me. Eventually I think I’d like to run my own business making jewellery, possibly bridal pieces. I love the idea of emotional durability in jewellery, that if you create something that the owner has an emotional attachment to, like bridal jewellery, then that person will want to keep it forever.”
Sarah-Jane Rossi, who was originally from Darlington but has lived in Widewell, Plymouth, for the past four years, said: “I’ve wanted to study art for a long time. When I was a teenager I studied Fashion at college but didn’t complete the course and it’s been bothering me ever since. When I moved to Plymouth I decided to do something about it and chose Contemporary Crafts because it enabled me to work in a hands-on way with lots of different media. I like being able to do a bit of everything.
“I jumped at the chance to work with the Crafts Council. The whole experience has been brilliant. Helping to set up the exhibition has made me really appreciate the work that the exhibitions team in The Gallery does!”
The theme of the Echo exhibition, as decided by the students, is to showcase the infinite possibilities available to artists through repeating a singular form, action or process and intensively layering and building pattern, resulting in unexpected discoveries and opportunities. The collection of work in Echo was chosen to reveal the potential for artists to embrace both machine and handmade processes. It seeks to question where we place value within contemporary craft, asking audiences to consider how each item in the exhibition has been produced.
Nicola Farrington, Touring and Loans Manager for the Crafts Council, said: “We regularly loan out works from our collection for public exhibitions, but this is the first time that I’ve worked directly with a group of students to create an exhibition like this. It’s very exciting to empower the students in this way, helping them to display some works that have never been exhibited in the south west before. Coming, as this does, not long after our Plymouth celebration of craft and performance, the Acts of Making festival, really helps to reinforce what a vibrant hub for culture Plymouth is in the region.”
Leah Harris, Exhibitions Coordinator at The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, said: “A group of third year students coming together to curate a public exhibition of Crafts Council Collection work is really quite remarkable, above and beyond what’s expected of them on their degree. It has been an exciting journey, sharing with them just how much work goes into preparing an exhibition like this, from the initial concept and choosing a theme right down to decorating the gallery space and arranging the physical work. Echo as a show meets the highest professional standards and the end result speaks volumes about the hard work and dedication of the students involved.”
Echo showcases the infinite possibilities available to artists through repeating a singular form, action or process and intensively layering and building pattern, resulting in unexpected discoveries and opportunities.
The exhibition features 18 makers from the Crafts Council Collection and beyond, revealing the potential to embrace both machine and handmade processes. It seeks to question where we place value within contemporary craft, asking audiences to consider how each item in the exhibition has been produced.
Echo runs in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art to Saturday 7 November (Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm, closed Sunday).
(from a press release)