Inaugural Woman’s Hour Craft Prize finalists announced

BBC Radio 4, Walpole Cultural Associate the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Crafts Council have announced the 12 makers in the running for the inaugural £10,000 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize.

From huge handwoven willow structures, darned high street hoodies and bespoke bicycles, to unfired clay installations, futuristic glass figures, and jewellery made with 18th-century pins found in the mud of the river Thames, the finalists explore issues ranging from our consumer culture, to the decline of UK manufacturing, and geo-politics.

The 12 finalists are: Laura Ellen Bacon, Alison Britton, Neil Brownsword, Lin Cheung, Phoebe Cummings, Caren Hartley, Peter Marigold, Celia Pym, Romilly Saumarez Smith, Andrea Walsh, Emma Woffenden and Laura Youngson Coll. The finalists were selected over the course of eight selection panels by 29 expert judges.

The Woman’s Hour Craft Prize was launched in order to celebrate the most innovative and exciting craftmakers in the UK, and coincides with the 70th anniversary of Woman’s Hour. The 12 finalists were selected from almost 1,500 applications, and their works will feature in a Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition at the V&A from Thursday 7th September 2017 to Monday 5th February 2018, followed by a UK-wide tour. The winner will be selected by Rosy Greenlees (Executive Director, Crafts Council), Tristram Hunt (Director of the V&A), and Martha Kearney (BBC journalist and broadcaster), and announced in a live broadcasted ceremony from the V&A on Wednesday 8th November 2017.

Meet the finalists below:

Laura Ellen Bacon works with willow and other natural materials to create striking monumental sculptures, using techniques traditionally associated with basketry.

 

Alison Britton rose to prominence in the 1970s as part of an influential group of ceramic artists whose work challenged established traditions. She has consistently focused on the pot as a form, to which she continues to bring new ideas about sculptural form and painted surface, exploring function, history, containment and ornamentation.

Neil Brownsword creates installations using ceramics, film and performance taking the ceramics industry of The Potteries in his native Staffordshire as his primary subject, observing its people and production systems.

Lin Cheung is an artist and designer who questions the established uses and meanings of jewellery. She looks at how jewellery is used to express identity, and how it is a powerful trigger of memory and emotion.

Phoebe Cummings creates temporary sculptures and installations from unfired clay. Intricate and detailed, her work responds to the natural world and lasts only for the duration of an exhibition after which the clay is where possible reclaimed and reused.

Caren Hartley uses her metalwork skills to produce high-performing bespoke bicycles tailored to each rider. Often incorporating precious metals and exploring the surface finish of the frames through paint, patination and gilding.

Peter Marigold is a furniture designer influenced by his background in sculpture, theatrical set building and product design. He experiments with materials and form to create considered yet playful objects.

Celia Pym uses darning, knitting and embroidery to create intimate works that speak directly to human experience. She carefully darns other people’s clothing, including socks, hoodies, jumpers and cardigans, making us think about our attitudes to care, repair and vulnerability.

Romilly Saumarez Smith transforms the stories contained in discarded everyday objects, such as dress pins found in the mud of the Thames, into beguiling works of art. Unable to use her own hands, she works alongside jewellers LucieGledhill, Laura Ngyou and Anna Wales who translate her pieces.

Andrea Walsh creates exquisitely-crafted box and vessel forms made of glass in combination with bone china that explore ideas of containment, materiality, preciousness and value.

 

Emma Woffenden creates glass sculptures and installations based around the human figure. Uncanny and at times unsettling, her works reflect observed human behaviour, with traits of humour, aggression and the absurd.

Laura Youngson Coll works mainly in vellum creating intricate pieces that lie somewhere between fiction and fact as she articulates the often overlooked details of our environment.