Review: Crafted at Kirkby & Huyton Gallery

Crafted, Huyton Gallery, 2016

Crafted
Kirkby & Huyton Galleryuntil 13th August 2016

Words by Shaneka Williams

Crafted is a biannual exhibition that displays the work of contemporary makers across design, craft, fine art and sculpture. This year the exhibition was displayed at two venues simultaneously – Kirkby and Huyton Gallery – each containing a good sample of work. A special feature of this years show is the inclusion of ten works on loan from The Crafts Council.

As someone who was unfamiliar with both spaces I was immediately struck by the immaculate white cube spaces, hidden within two libraries beyond Liverpool’s City Centre. I visited Kirkby Gallery first. A perfect introduction to Crafted. It had photographs of some of the work guiding the way to the exhibition space. Upon arrival I was met by a group of primary-aged children engaged in a class activity, however, that couldn’t detract from the work itself.

Mandy Hills and Janine Partington sit side by side, possibly because of their multidisciplinary practice. Hills’ vibrant screen prints capture an almost nostalgic appreciation of nature, with carefully overlapped simplified shapes. Her brooches lack the colour of her prints, but have a similar simple style. Partington’s enameled jewellery and canvases sit perfectly together, both having used the same colour palette. Her use of white, tinged with blue, on a copper ground, demonstrates how appealing less costly metals like copper can be.

Across from these are Steve Talbot’s intimately intricate boxes. With inspiration ranging from places, to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, to the age of enlightenment; it is no surprise that no box is alike. Each box contains two-dimensional images with three-dimensional objects, creating a layered assemblage. Talbot’s Alice in Wonderland inspired box contains illustrations from the book, chess pieces and playing cards… amongst other things. Other less obvious arrangements had shells, a compass, etc. etc. etc. These beautifully assembled works exist in a whole new space, of Talbot’s creation, which allows for each to be considered in appropriate isolation.

Amy Richards and Thrashion both exemplify the repurposing element of the craft aesthetic. Richards’ cluttered display looks out of place amongst the clean cut arrangements used by other artists; but given the nature of her work it is highly appropriate. Her jewellery pieces were originally antique objects – coins, and spoons etc. – that have been gently manipulated to form wearable pieces. Each is labelled in an elegant hand written cursive that enhances their unusual charity-shop-esque glory. Thrashion is a Cornwall based company that makes jewellery from disused skateboards. Initially I was struck by the multitude of vibrant colours, but after discovering the origin of the material I was amazed by the transformation – from skateboard to accessory. It’s almost baffling to think about its previous life and its previous owner.

Huyton Gallery – being the smaller of the two spaces – contains less works, but it is still an essential part of the exhibition.

Acanthus Art and Mint Republic take different approaches to the idea of the Northern city. Acanthus Art’s prints and multilayer dioramas are a tongue in cheek representation of the phrase ‘It’s Grim Up North’. The phrase itself sits above a darkened silhouette of houses, factories and smoke portraying the Northern Industries in their heyday; without the rose tinted glasses. Whereas, Mint Republic’s iconic Liverpool inspired prints perfectly capture the cities greatest monuments. Whilst also demonstrating a careful attention to design elements. ‘The Iconic Buildings of Liverpool’ print features Liverpool’s most iconic monuments including the Three Graces, and St. Georges Hall. It would be a welcome addition to the home of anyone who loves Liverpool, and its architecture

As one of only a handful of carvers, taking letterform across material boundaries, Wayne Hart continues to excel at producing beautiful inscriptions. ‘The Raven’ depicts a section from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, on stone. The stone’s continuous gradation enhances the curvature of the words, and the seamless curves of the letters. The connection between the material and the inscription is particularly crucial in this instance. Hart’s inscriptions demonstrate excellent craftsmanship and his choice of words shows the breadth of his inspiration.

Crafted captures the expanse of contemporary art practice, appealing to a variety of audiences from the art enthusiast to the ceramic hoarder. And with a range of prices, art has never been so affordable, or so functional.

Crafted continues until 13th August 2016