Jay Blades presents Craftworks is a brand new exhibition curated by furniture restorer and eco-designer Jay Blades MBE.  A key part of London Craft Week, this inspiring event will be held in Shoreditch Town Hall from 15th -17th May and will showcase the work of over 80 exhibitors as well as presenting a three-day programme with insightful seminars, hands-on workshops and lively panel sessions. Here, Chris Cox, co-founder of Cox London, Craftworks headline sponsor shares his insights on the collaboration and tells us what to expect from the show.

How did you first meet Jay Blades and how did the Craftworks partnership come about?

Nicola was invited to the meeting where the Craftworks concept was launched and having listened to Jay’s objectives, she immediately thought it was a great cause. She met Jay again a few weeks later at a City and Guilds event where he was named Vice President (of City and Guilds) and they really hit it off. It was then that she immediately agreed Cox London would be the headline sponsor.

Image: Jay Blades with Nicola and Christopher Cox

What kind of things can we expect from the event over the three-day program?

There is a plethora of talent coming to the inaugural show and so many craft disciplines are represented including works in paper, textiles, glass, timber and natural fibres as well as metalwork, ceramics and jewellery – the list goes on. There will also be live seminars, workshops, panel discussions and some of the finest bodies in the craft sector including QEST (The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust), West Dean College and the worshipful companies of fan makers and clock makers will all be represented.

Image: Chair by Jay&Co

Why were you keen to be involved with Craftworks as an event?

Preserving rare crafts for future generations and nurturing talent of all ages is very high on the Cox London agenda and these ideas are also at the heart of Craftworks and Jay’s ethos. Like Jay, Cox London used to undertake a great deal of restoration for the trade, so Jay’s motto of ‘honour the past, celebrate the present, secure the future’ really resonates with us. We also just love an opportunity to be immersed within a group of like-minded makers and we want our clients to join us and help us celebrate and support the amazing craftspeople we have here in the UK, so the pool of skills and resources can keep on growing.

Image: Paper flora by Susan Beech

Will people be able to buy or commission work at the show?

Yes, absolutely. All of the original works by each maker will be on sale. Visitors will find both traditional and contemporary pieces by highly experienced makers as well as many newcomers whom you may not have seen or met before. If you’re a collector, an interior designer or a gallerist, if you’re speedy enough you will be able to purchase pieces to take home there and then. You’ll also be able to commission beautiful, bespoke objects, furniture, lighting, jewellery, vessels and even clothing and leatherware. 

Image: Surreal ceramics by Ikuko Iwamoto

Are there any craftspeople’s work that you are excited to see and if yes, who and why?

I’m delighted to see Ikuko Iwamoto’s work on show. She has a surreal take on ceramics, which often include tooth and bone-like shapes, that’s really mesmerising. I also love Mollie McMillen’s woven wall hangings and basket work, which are crafted from locally harvested tree barks – the intricacy of her work is incredible. Paper artist Susan Beech creates extraordinary paper flora, which she colours by hand with ink, pastel and paint. The fact that she studies real botanical specimens so keenly makes it hard to distinguish her creations from the real thing. The work of another ceramic artist, Jonquil Cook also pulls on my collector’s heart. She uses the centuries-old process of Scraffito, whereby two layers of unfired clay are applied to a surface and the top layer is scratched back. Her artistry is incredible and her stoneware pieces, which include vessels and tiles are so covetable and unique. I’m also looking forward to seeing makers I’ve not met before, like Souplesse Designs. 

Image: Souplesse Designs

Why do you think events like Craftworks are so important for UK craft as a whole?

They’re a great resource for people who want to buy craft as well as those who are selling, and they can even be fantastic inspiration if you yourself are a maker looking to be energised and stimulated. They also provide an opportunity for collectors, interior designers and anyone who is a fan of craft to meet a brilliant cross-section of artisans, to speak directly to them and to see, feel and experience their work in person. A show of this calibre, which runs for three full days in the capital and is completely free is such an exciting prospect and should not be missed.

Image: Ceramics by Jonquil Cook.

Jay Blades

We hope this insight into the collaboration between The House Directory members Cox London and Craftworks Show has proved interesting and insightful. If you have enjoyed it, do check out some of our recent blog posts here.

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