Our group visit last week was for makers who aspire to participate at Collect in the future. It was good to have a group who, once more spent time together catching up, discussing their own practice and wonderful to see them realise that their work is on a level with much that is on show.
Collect is very much about selling to a high end market and to be able to see work from all over the world in one place is a rare opportunity. As usual, after a day or night of travel much of the first day is spent absorbing the atmosphere, people watching, forgetting to eat, resting weary feet and being amazed by all that is on display and the prices people are happy to pay!
Visiting London is always hectic as you want to cram in as many exhibitions and gallery visits as you can in a short space of time, take that experience home with you and then digest it all in the relative peace and tranquillity of the Highlands!
Collect is constantly inspiring, sometimes amusing and occasionally disappointing. The majority of the work is exquisitely made and pushes the boundaries of what is perceived as Craft, reflected in the fact that the show is called the International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects.
To see work by makers who you have long admired is a real treat and one of my favourite occupations is to go round picking the work I would buy if I had unlimited funds. You find new makers, new work by makers you know and work that you do wonder ‘how on earth did that get in’! But generally the quality is of the very highest and the gallery stands beautifully displayed.
Many red dots had appeared by the end of the Private View which goes to show that people are still buying; indeed both the Scottish Gallery and the National Craft Gallery, Ireland had sold most of their work by the end of the first day.
As well as our visit to Collect, our group visited several other galleries including the V&A and work at Fortnum and Mason ‘Handmade’. This display was really interesting as it was a selling exhibition in a very well known retail shop. Work from 50 makers was of the highest level and featured work for the home and in particular, food and dining. Many displays were on old tables so you could see and touch the work and it took away the gallery feel making it all more accessible.
It was a pleasure to see work by Tain based Glasstorm included as well as several makers from Cornwall that I had not come across before. I will be doing some more research as it is a wonderful way of retailing craft to an upmarket audience and an approach that is to be commended.
Once more, it struck me that so much can be achieved by getting makers together at events such as this. I personally value the time I get to discuss makers practice and problems as well as feel that relationships are strengthened and anything is possible with such strong and creative people working in the sector in the Highlands!