Craft has now been recognised as a major art form.

Contemporary craft offers amazing value with work by acclaimed makers and is still considerably more affordable than the work of fine artists, even though the output is of equal and sometimes superior status.

One of the major selling exhibitions of contemporary craft in the world, Collect opens in London next week.

In its 16th year, it will take over three wings of Somerset House in Strand, WC2, for a dazzling display of the best of international craft, with each participating gallery given its own room for display.

What to see at Collect

Nearly half the exhibitors come from outside the UK, representing 25 nations. Much of the work has been created for Collect and over a quarter of the galleries are new to the show.

They include several Asian galleries including the new Lloyd Choi Gallery, Gallery SP and glass specialists Gallery Sklo, all from Korea, and The Gallery by SOIL from Hong Kong. 

From the UK, The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust is celebrating 30 years of giving grants to British-based craftspeople with an exhibition of its scholars’ work that includes intricately coloured ceramics by Alice Walton, organic glass by Kaja Upelj, basketry sculpture by Annemarie O’Sullivan and a steel, zinc and 24-carat gold room divider by silversmith Grant McCaig.

While Collect is about objects that can be bought and collected, it offers non- buyers the chance both to see some amazing objects and often to talk to the makers. It’s also a magnet for trend spotters and analysts. 

Korean Eun-Suh Choi’s Conscious Pot IX sculpture in flame-worked glass at Gallery Skl

Top glass trends: playing with colour and textures

Traditionally, the British have been connoisseurs of ceramics, while the Americans have been collectors of glass.

This year, however, glass is a big feature. Bullseye Glass Company from Portland, Oregon, has optical illusion glass tables in multilayered geometric panels by Karlyn Sutherland that reflect her interest in architectural space, while Celia Dowson’s serene Rhossili Collection, developed from observations of the Gower Peninsula in Wales, includes glasses and bowls.

They are shown alongside Joshua Kerley’s innovative pendant lighting made of pâte de verre — small grains of glass in paste pressed into a mould fired in a kiln.

Kerley’s playful use of colour, with soft yellows, pinks and a dash of cobalt, is also evident in his series of jars with glass foam lids.

He upends conventional perceptions of glass, combining and juxtaposing traditional techniques with mundane materials like cork or common brick.

Glass artist Edmond Byrne and metalsmith Adi Toch collaborate in Material Dialogues: metal and glass, for Collect Open, the section of the exhibition where makers pursue their own projects.

The pair explore the alchemic meeting point of the two materials, their transformation from solid to liquid to solid.

Toch and Byrne have discovered a way of making metal and glass compatible so they can be joined together, revealed in a series of vessels mixing glass, silver and copper to create a variety of patinas, textures and colour effects.

Glass is a wonderful way to bring colour into an interior, such as Joon-yong Kim’s subtly coloured vessels for Gallery Sklo.

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Celebration: to mark 30 years of giving grants, the Queen Elizabeth Trust is showcasing scholars’ work such as organic glass by Kaja Upelj, priced £2,700 for three

Bold shades and wall arrangements

Colour is a notable trend this year, as is wall-hung work.

Peter Layton of London Glassblowing is showing a huge multicoloured wall piece, while Laura Hart at Vessel Gallery makes exotic wall-mounted glass flowers.

Klari Reis at Cynthia Corbett Gallery creates equally brightly coloured wall works of smears, bumps and blobs in epoxy polymer, inspired by biomedical discoveries in San Francisco, her hometown.

Myung Nam An for Cube Gallery continues the colour and wall themes with a range of individual ceramic elements that can be arranged however you like.

The ceramic element theme is taken further by Tal Batit for Collect Open with his ceramic carpet that looks like a large piece of cross-stitch. 

For those seeking something striking for the table, Goldsmiths’ Fair has a series of vessels in mild steel, brass and silver by Grant McCaig, patinated bowls by Adi Toch, vessels in paper and gold by Nan Nan Liu, precious metal boxes by Patrick Davison and amazing jewellery by Zoe Arnold. 

Collect runs from February 27 to March 1 at Somerset House, WC2. Admission is £23, a ticket for two is £40 and concessions are £19.50. 

Open 11am-5pm on Thursday, February 27 with a private view from 6pm to 9pm. Friday, February 28 to Sunday March 1, open 11am to 6pm (craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/collect).

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