Good things come to those who wait: time-consuming crafts at Apricot Gallery in East London

By Mark Sheerin | 30 April 2015

Exhibition preview: Historical Futures, Apricot Gallery, The Rag Factory, London, May 2 – May 9 2015

Colouor photo of an artificial rock with gems
Historical Futures. Installation view
It is just four years since a 24-hour long film picked up a Gold Lion at Venice. The Clock, by Christian Marclay, became last word in durational art. Both the time it cost to produce and the time it asked of the viewer both gave the critics something to write home about.

But craft, as opposed to blue-chip contemporary art, has always had an impressive relationship with time. Traditional skills take years to learn and individual pieces weeks and months to produce. For a contemporary art skeptic, labour time can confer value where conceptual thinking might fail to.

With this in mind there is no arguing with the decision to include Blair Cahill, Cheryl Papasian, Necole Schmitz and Alex J Wood in a new show in East London. All four artists use craft techniques, with the help of considerable patience, to produce objects of fourth-dimensional merit.

From Cahill you can expect embroidered panels and machined steel, from Papasian artificial geodes and ores from ceramic or bronze. Schimtz uses traditional knotting techniques, building methods and makes ceramic vessels, while Wood fashions narratives out of paper models and, again, bronze.

All four artists are comfortable incorporating craft techniques within a contemporary art practice and, as such, they have their cake and eat it. The ideas behind the work might impress every bit as much as the skill. The hand of the maker ensures a certain lasting aura.

Given that we live in ephemeral times, Historical Futures could be refreshing. But the show is only open for a week. There’s an irony there somewhere.

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Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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