Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Designers

On Friday, Jo took me to the New Designers exhibition at The Business Design Centre in London.

New Designers takes place in two parts from 3-6 July and 10-13 July 2008, presenting the next generation of designers to the industry. Thousands of designers, graduating from the UK's design courses, display exciting and truly original work to industry, the public and the media. We went to the first week, which was showing the work of textile designers and ceramicists.

It was an inspirational day.

The first thing that caught my eye was the work of a textile artist called Amy Carlisle. Amy used an abstract expressionist style (which obviously resonated with me in terms of my own approach) to produce large pieces of colourful and energetic fabric. But what fascinated me most was the way she demonstrated her research and development. Rather than simply displaying her sketch books, she had sewn the images and references onto paper and then had them bound up into hard-back books. The books themselves were pieces of art and I so much wanted to buy one!

Documenting the process is an important part of textile design because of the need to be able to reproduce the material at a later date if required. This is something you don’t see so much in fine art where the finished piece stands alone. But I am fascinated by processes and it made some of the work much more interesting and engaging. It seems to generate more conversation around the work, and I think that’s important.

Later in the day I came across Alison Reynolds and Julie Price from West Wales School of the Arts. I had met Alison and Julie a few times before at Craft Markets in the Rhondda. Now, though, I was able to see their full-scale work and contrasting styles… and brilliant it was too.

Overall, the thing that struck me most about New Designers, was the vast potential it represented. It’s not just a design exhibition; it’s a trade show and a commercial opportunity. The graduate designers showing there are looking for sales, commissions, work opportunities. They have been trained over a number of years and are now hungry to make their mark. They need to be put to work in relevant and productive ways to bring their education, vision and skills into the world. Sadly, as we all know, many of them (like those of us who’ve gone before!) won’t achieve that. But I’ve always had a passion for young people with their energy and potential, so I’m going to find ways to play a part in facilitating that.

We both have lots of work to do.....
yes indeed we do.
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