John Grayson, A Present for the People of England. Courtesy Shropshire County Council/Bilston Craft Gallery/the artist
Shropshire County Council Arts Service and Bilston Craft Gallery have devised a new project called CRAFTBOX to tour contemporary craft to informal, non-gallery settings in the West Midlands.
Works by 17 makers have been specially commissioned for the scheme and the box itself has been created by Wolverhampton-based furniture makers Pottinger & Cole.
Makers have responded to the brief to create objects for a handling collection that will fit into drawers in the box, which aims to give people the opportunity to engage with craft of various disciplines on a first hand basis and be able to handle and study objects closely.
“The project has been inspired by various successful outreach ‘box’ projects in Shropshire and by Bilston Craft Gallery’s exciting exhibition programme of contemporary craft,” said Sara Grant Thorold, Arts Development Officer at Shropshire County Council.
Betty Pepper, That Which Once Was. Courtesy Shropshire County Council/Bilston Craft Gallery/the artist
Artists selected are Annette Bugansky, Lin Cheung, Louise Chesshire, Jennifer Collier, Virginia Graham, John Grayson, Elin Isaksson, Lisa Jaggs, Sarah King, Hannah Louise Lamb, Claire Malet, Malcolm Martin/Gaynor Dowling, Betty Pepper, Sarah Thirlwell, Melanie Tomlinson and Alison Willoughby.
The work of John Grayson refers to a Georgian enamel snuffbox, which was made in Bilston in 1800. As the snuffbox was inspired by the times in which it was made, so too are John’s boxes, which depict Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Betty Pepper’s piece, That Which Once Was, looks at the past and ageing. “I wanted to involve the senses in the piece to try to evoke memories and perhaps start the story telling process,” said Betty. “Both of these are an important part of my work.”
CRAFTBOX is touring to venues in Wolverhampton from September to December 2007 and in Shropshire from January to April 2008. Workshops will be offered in each venue, together with a curator and interpretation information.
The scheme has been funded by Arts Council England - West Midlands, West Midlands Hub as part of the Renaissance in the Regions programme administered by MLA, Shropshire County Council and Wolverhampton City Council.