DIVERSITY is interwoven with the core purpose of Our Journey: while every work was selected as being primarily excellent craft and design, the show incorporates a considerable range of materials and practices.
Deep consideration was given to the wide representation and celebration of the varied characteristics of Design-Nation’s portfolio: designer-makers are based across UK, from Devon to North Wales, Northern Ireland to Aberdeenshire, Lancashire to Sussex. There are many women, but also some men, a great range of ages, sexualities, family circumstances and backgrounds.
Diversity also extends to the way that makers work: while most here are sole traders, there is one couple in creative business together, and another body of work is the result of a long-distance and virtual lockdown collaboration between two very different designers.
Mainly though, Our Journey celebrates diverse practices: Helen Slater Stokes’ doctoral research was highly technical and the results spectacular: the insertion of lenticular lenses into her kiln-formed glass. Amongst Design-Nation’s many talented makers in ceramics Julie Vernon stands out as a skilled mosaicist, and one who is challenging the traditional forms of this ancient craft through her new nature-inspired combinations of glass, ceramic, natural marble and slate.
Diversity of family background is part of the approach that Janine Partington and Momoka Gomi bring to their work. Momoka weaves pieces that incorporate reused cloth and yarn, their aesthetic informed by her Japanese upbringing, evoking and mimicking the nature of memory. Janine’s career has been diverse – she is a highly skilled enameller and now is working in leather and paint, using her father’s tools to tell her mother’s story.
Diversity and variety are key to the enjoyment of Michaela McMillan’s composite figurines – highly imaginative, lively, colourful and imbued with narrative. Unexpected combinations are also found in Myra Hutton and Nick Rawcliffe’s collaboration, bringing Myra’s soft hand-felting together with Nick’s designs for moon-inspired lighting to create beautiful dreamy pieces.
Ash & Plumb are wood-turners, bringing a smart modern sensibility to this traditional craft, and celebrating the amazing range of native English timbers in their collections of vessels. Likewise, nature is celebrated by glassmaker Verity Pulford who brings new techniques to her incredibly detailed kiln-formed renditions of foliage, flowers and lichen.