London Contemporary Furniture Exhibition

Opening Wednesday 31st March at the Millinery Gallery in Islington is the second exhibition of British Contemporary Furniture. More details to follow. See exhibited there “Andromeda” by David Savage. This piece is featured on the front of exhibition catalogue.

"Andromeda" by David Savage

The following is the unedited frontispiece to this exhibition

The Millinery Works is closely associated with the Arts and Crafts movement and in this exhibition, many of the makers have a similar association, often in fact a direct inspiration. The Arts and Crafts movement was a movement of political and aesthetic revolt. Its supporters and exponents were against a Victorian urban industrialism led by inspirational socialist thinkers of the calibre of William Morris and artists like Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

The makers in this show can certainly be regarded as a movement, though perhaps some would not share my direct assertion. However, what they are revolting against may be less clear. The web forum that has enabled this exhibition to be staged contains a loose association of rugged individuals. Each maker supporting a myriad of different causes, ideals and creative directions.  Most are deliberately working far from the centres of cultural power and influence. They inhabit small isolated workshops, some in urban but many in rural settings often creating work inspired by land, wind and weather. All the makers will have had to become expert at providing an exceptional customer service – they listen carefully to their clients and respond with a sensitive and creative interpretation. Time and again these artisans have exceeded their customer’s expectation and made something that is truly extraordinary. The best will have the support of genuinely creative patronage.

If the makers are a movement, like those of the Arts and Crafts period, one has to ask what are they demonstrating against? Today’s fine furniture makers, through their remarkable work, reveal the lack of quality elsewhere in our culture.  Such work is a counterpoint to poor standards, sound  bite journalism, the cheapness of our thinking, and the sheer lack of genuine quality in our lives. This body of work underlines and highlights the joy of excellence and true craftsmanship.
The exhibition here last year was an unqualified success;  the exhibitors then as now showed work that stunned with the quality of design, concept and execution. Workmanship, a key tenet of Arts and  Crafts ideology was seen almost as “a given”, an unquestionable, integral aspect of the work displayed. It proves, if there was any doubt, that today’s British Art and Craft exponents carry on a remarkable tradition and express the philosophy in a manner that it relevant and contemporary. Design and Expression are becoming two parts of the same occupation as makers use their considerable technical vocabulary to begin to speak clearly and meaningfully about our age and our culture.We see here and now a period of furniture making being referred to as a “Golden Period” and once again British Furniture Makers, as a movement, are leading the world.

David Binnington Savage   Feb 2010.


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