Made In Britain
Made in Britain
30 July to 11 September 2004
Cultural diversity amongst Britain’s young
Made in Britain' seems a phrase packed in mothballs, bobbled with nostalgia for a time when John Bull ruled and Britannia had yet to become 'cool'. Within the last 50 years, the face of Britain has changed markedly, but threadbare though that label may be, it symbolises a still-living tradition of quality and ingenuity. Each year, it helps draw flocks of foreign students here to study, and not all choose to return home once their studies are complete.
In Junko Mori's work, iron is coaxed into forms so delicate that they might be life forms. She does this using a range of techniques, some of them rooted in blacksmithing.
For Hiroshi Susuki, silver vessels, skilfully hammer-raised, become canvases, while Vladimir Böhm enamels his simple bowls to an artfully unfinished finish. Luminous as moonlight, they have the look of artefacts excavated from centuries of forgetfulness. In Koichiro Yamamoto's witty works, objects are buried within themselves, a pitcher or a tumbler half emerging from his cast glass.
Other makers use techniques specific to their origins. Kei Ito has spent well over a decade in this country, but in her work she looks East, back to Japan, intricately cutting, stitching and pleating fabric until it becomes something sculptural. The same fluidity can be found in pieces by Naoko Sato, who casts, stretches and re-casts glass to echo the ripple of silk, or by Danish-born Ane Christensen, who cuts and folds single sheets of metal, teasing them into three-dimensionality.
Preeti Gilani is the only British-born maker. Her hand-woven, hand-dyed bags and scarves draw most obviously on her Indian heritage, but their rich colours are flecked, too, with other sources of inspiration: tradition Japanese fashion and architecture, African textiles and Islamic art.
As a seafaring, island nation, we have always benefited from creative cross-pollination. In choosing to stay on and make Britain their base, these craftspeople are shaping the country that has shaped their creative selves.
Hephzibah Anderson © 2004
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