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Craftivism / Saturday 10th June 2017 - Saturday 15th July 2017

The term ‘Craftivism’ combines both craft and activism. It is the utilisation of personal creativity to express an opinion about the wider world. It is a means of reinforcing your voice and bringing about positive action and change through a form of activism that is simultaneously personal to you whilst being accessible to a broader range of people.

Craftivism has been described as ‘a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite.’ Craftivism is formed on the idea that instead of solely using your voice to express your dissent, you can use your creativity which is often more successful in capturing the imagination and is a means for others to get involved.

With the rise of mass production there seemed to be little need for craft on an individual level; however, this has not dampened the appeal of craft and applied art. In fact, the application of and participation in craft has grown in popularity and has proven to be, in many ways, more relevant than ever. Applied art and Craftivism have recently come to the fore owing to the resurgence of interest in traditions, the handmade, vintage and nostalgia. This is in antipathy to the rise of consumerism with its detachment from the making process and subsequent heightened anonymity of the maker.

This exhibition will showcase the work of artists who have found their voice through craft or who have helped and inspired others to find theirs through socially engaged practice.

The exhibition was inspired by the outreach work of Bluecoat Display Centre in local hospitals and with social care groups. These regular outreach projects work with under represented groups, teaching them craft activities with demonstrably positive effects on health and wellbeing. The exhibition will include the work of local artists who have played an integral part in this outreach work.

Bluecoat Display Centre aims to reveal how this social engagement informs the maker’s work alongside the variety of means in which ethically and socially aware work can be manifested.

Exhibiting artists include Jennifer Collier, Caroline GregsonSian HughesKatrin SprangerPhil Young & Emma Ware.

(Private View – Friday 9th June 2017, 5.30 – 7.30pm).

This exhibition has been curated by Gallery Assistant, Jessica Fenna.

For further information and to request high res images please contact Bluecoat Display Centre on 0151 709 4014 or email crafts@bluecoatdisplaycentre.com.


blue plant pot1

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Jennifer Collier has led the way in the upcycling revolution in art and craft; a veteran maker of vintage material, investigating the re-used and recycled since 1999. “Giving new life to things that would otherwise go unloved or be thrown away,” is central to her practice.

Welcome to her fantastical world, where every exquisite detail is made, folded and manipulated from paper. Once books, maps, envelopes, wallpaper or scrap, the paper is transformed into textural forms. Like cloth it is stitched to construct two or three dimensional objects. The main technique employed is stitch; a contemporary twist on traditional textiles. The papers themselves serve as both the inspiration and the media for the work, with the narrative of the books and papers suggesting the forms, so a retro camera from vintage photos, or a sewing machine from vintage dress making patterns. To accentuate the fact the work is all stitched she incorporates many different embroidery techniques into the work, such as the covered binding, button loops, covered buttons, Cathedral Squares, Bullion Roses, pleating and patchwork to transform a pile of beautiful papers into something truly unique.

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Caroline works from her home studio in the beautiful Cheshire countryside.

“My sculptures are woven with fine willow rods, some of which I grow and harvest myself. I take great joy in using inspiration from the natural world, which has always fascinated and delighted me. I love the idea that I can draw with the willow, resulting in what appears to be a 3D sketch, and I try to capture the movement, vitality and individual character of each piece. If I can make you smile and think too then so much the better.”

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My art processes include installation using found objects, as well as working with paper and ceramics. My practice was primarily paper based: framed photographic and watercolour paper,  and tissue paper collaged onto found ceramic shards and domestic plates. These were used to reflect the echoes and imprints of past lives through place, archive and abandoned buildings using the Cyanotype process with its evocative blue tones.

My current focus is porcelain paper clay,  using its strength and apparent fragility, to work even more directly  with text and narrative.   A family archive of airmail letters from the 1960’s circulated to relatives in Britain describing life and culture in the Far East,  forms the focus of this new body of work.  These letters have been laser etched into wood, and pressed directly into the clay . Some remain as porcelain letter fragments, others are embedded in structures that make connections with family objects – tea spoons, tea caddies, bowls and cups - and the far east.

The blue underglaze which I have used variously as  wash , monoprint medium for handwritten text and freehand painting,  connect with  the blue and white ware of my grandmother’s dinner service and also recall  the blue of my cyanotype work.  Indeed the folded ceramic pieces emerged from exploring form and shape using cyanotyped paper -  thus not only taking the porcelain pieces from functional to abstract shapes but also taking my paper based work into new 3D sculptural forms.

I also work in the wider community running projects within the arts in health field. These include working with people living with dementia – the Lost in Art project run by Denbighshire County Council - and with Creative Alternatives for people with mental health issues run by the Alef Trust.  I use a range of processes – not necessarily those related to my own practice.

I have also taken part in several Outreach projects and Residencies organised by the Bluecoat Display Centre where the focus has been Cyanotypes. Groups have used this technique to create outcomes ranging from bookmaking to framed work for the Radiology Waiting Room in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital – a project that won an award for the Radiology Department: Every One Matters:  Staff Engagement and Empowerment National Pioneer Programme Team Award 2013

The  positive outcomes and sense of achievement that emerge from all these creative and social engagements are clear and include change of mood, a more positive outlook, a sense of well-being and increased self-confidence and self-worth.


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As a conceptual jewellery artist, I create stories that comment on consumer culture, environment and science fiction. Focusing on resources that might become depleted in the future,  I explore natural materials including crude oil, water and honey to develop wearable but also time-based and interactive jewellery. As my hybrid practice touches several disciplines like fashion, food, photography, performance and installations, I occasionally collaborate with other artists. Based on my main projects smaller wearable collections are developed enabling my ideas to be worn in a broader context.

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My work can be read as highlighting how we treat the natural world, this is something I feel strongly about. The wood I use can be seen as representing nature being distorted by man-made structures. The wood can also be seen as representing us, being distorted by the things that happen to us.

Living in rich countries we have a comfortable life in general, but bad things can still happen and there is much pressure on us to succeed and be happy. This combined with depressing news, advertising and social media giving us a false impression that everyone else is doing better, having more fun, or not worried, does have a destructive effect. It is partly this distortion of reality and partly the feelings caused by this distortion, that I am also trying to embody.

I made this work not just as a cathartic expression to help me deal with my feelings, but to show that these feelings can be used as a creative force and a force for positive change. I want to show people that no matter how crushed, wrinkled and scarred you are by life, (either physically or mentally) you, like my sculptures, are still beautiful. Let us not be ashamed that we are effected, but instead revel in our wrinkles and celebrate our scars, because they show that you have lived through the hard times and survived. You are strong and others should respect that, we should help each other and keep fighting to make this world a better place.

I am aware of the irony that my work is highlighting the destruction of trees by the very act of destroying a tree. Trees are not throw away items and I source them from reportedly sustainably managed forests. The metal parts are often sourced from scrapyards so are recycled.


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Ware London has grown around a fundamental respect for our planet and it’s inhabitants, a belief in the power of the individual and of positive practice generating awareness and change. These are intricate sculptures that frame and compliment the body, reflecting our curves and angles, emphasizing and celebrating the beauty in nature. Designs that are inherently about the material and its unique qualities, these creations grow through the application of a repetitive process in a way that almost mimics patterns in nature. Each piece is handmade in Emma’s East London studio. Fuelled by a frustration about our impact on the environment she focused on thinking creatively to utilize materials that had fulfilled their original purpose.

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