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London Craft Week
The sixth edition of this one-of-a-kind festival brings global craft to the capital

Six years ago, the cultural scene in London saw every week packed with design, art, architecture, fashion and food events but somehow a celebration for the craft industry was missing,’ recalls founder and chairman Guy Salter of the initial thinking behind London Craft Week. ‘We set out to shine a spotlight on unsung creative talent whether that’s an artisan working in a Paris atelier for a famous luxury house or a little-known independent maker in Chile’s Atacama Desert.’ Fast forward to 2020 and this September the festival will once again showcase the work of established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from across the globe – albeit some of them virtually.

 

Delayed and adapted to Covid-19 with a safety-first approach that includes a line up of both online and in-person ticketed, small group events, the spirit of the festival – championing all kinds of exceptional craftsmanship – remains the same. Exhibition highlights include 300 Objects in St James’s, where a series of guest curators (including designer Yinka Ilori, actor Russell Tovey and interior designer Martin Brudnizki) choose work by an artist, maker or designer they love, all of which are then for sale, and The Craft Takeover at Mayfair Gallery, a collection of modern masterpieces in glass, ceramic, furniture and textiles.

We unashamedly celebrate beautiful, special things, as well as the human ingenuity that goes into making them

London Craft Week isn’t just a chance to see beautifully handcrafted wares, though. There are also brilliant artisan-led demonstrations, fascinating behind-the-scenes tours and hands- on classes where visitors can try making for themselves. From a guided look around the botanical-inspired art collection at the Belmond Cadogan Hotel to a tutorial by ceramicist Gregory Tingay at Studio Pottery London on the processes involved in making moonjars, or creating a bespoke fragrance in a one-on-one session with perfumer Sarah McCartney to an online marketplace hosted by gin pioneers Sipsmith, the packed 11-day programme is about so much more than what is conventionally understood by craft. ‘By watching a craftsman demonstrate their skills, asking them questions or having a go, it can fundamentally change a person’s appreciation of, and relationship with an object,’ says Guy.

Other exciting events to look out for this year include online workshops in leather belt making, weaving and mending (by Kingsley Walters, Áine Byrne and Celia Pym respectively), an introduction to book binding by artist Rahel Zoller at the Design Museum and weaving demonstrations at Christabel Balfour’s east London studio, which is opening to the public for the first time. Plus, the festival will culminate on 10 October with Create Day, an ambitious new 24-hour initiative where back-to-back video content will be shown from over 300 makers, designers and creators around the globe, beginning in Asia and ending in North America – think German jeweller Silvia Weidenbach who is currently creating 3D printed platinum gold jewellery, Mexican designer Fernando Laposse who is developing a veneer for furniture from endangered heirloom corn; and American metal and leatherworker Jason Ross who makes accessories for some of the world’s biggest fashion houses.

‘We unashamedly celebrate beautiful, special things, as well as the human ingenuity that goes into making them,’ concludes Guy. And what could be more inspiring, especially in such uncertain times, than that.

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