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Collect 2018: Showcasing Scottish design and craft talent

In a nutshell, Collect brings together 40 galleries from four continents to showcase some exceptional work from makers, designers and creatives. Now in its 14th year, 2018's event is taking place at London’s Saatchi Gallery from 22 - 25 February, and the programme is packed with Scottish talent, both established and emerging.

Exhibiting this year is Andrew Lamb, Elizabeth Jane Campbell, Bryony Knox, Malcolm Appleby, Sheila McDonald, Karylyn Sutherland, Jeff Zimmer, Jonathan Pang, Mella Shaw, Northlands Creative and more. 

Craft Scotland, supported by Emergents, will also be presenting Scotland: Craft & Design: a collection of exquisitely crafted statement pieces from 17 technically accomplished makers. You can view the full show brochure here.

With the event kicking off this week, we spoke to two Scottish exhibitors, Mella Shaw and Jonathan Pang to find out more about Collect, and why it is such an important platform for showcasing work.

Jonathan Pang

Jonathan Pang says that Collect is a valuable showcase for his work due to the high profile nature of the show. "It has allowed me to showcase unusual but interesting ideas in a curated exhibition format," he explains. "Creative Scotland and Craft Scotland / Emergents have allowed me to explore what I feel is a valuable consideration within the furniture industry - that being the use of recyclable and sustainable materials."

Jonathan's furniture business was established in 2015, after 15 years spent working within the furniture industry in Scotland. During the course of his practice, he gained a large amount of experience, which he says informed his decision to focus on smaller scale, one off or free-standing pieces, so that he could have more design and manufacturing control.

Speaking about his practice, he says: "I specialise in detailed freestanding furniture pieces, predominantly made from wood. But I have began exploring new recyclable and sustainable materials."

Jonathan's says his passion lies in "clean, simple designed furniture that has tactile and eye catching detailing". Going on to describe his style in further detail, he says it is "very similar to Japanese and Scandinavian design, and in a way, a mixture of the two." He says he is also inspired "by the use of contrasting materials and production techniques."

The work he is taking to Collect is unique, and emblematic of his intricate design style. "I have produced a pair of eye catching and dramatic cases made using a recyclable material called Richlite," he says. "The first case holds a set of Uranium glasses that are underlit by a series of discreet LED lights. The case also features apertures in the lid which house the glasses when closed but also allows the light to beam upwards, adding intrigue.

"I have also added concealed lock covers that slide open to reveal the lock itself. This was inspired by certain aspects of Japanese designs where sliding and concealed panels were introduced instead of padlocks.

"The second case / box is a large detailed puzzle box, again taking inspiration from Japanese puzzle boxes, where a series of moves allows certain areas of the box to be opened. It also features a Damascus Steel pattern, which is likened to a topographic map. These contours have been routed into the surface of the Richlite and include deeper contour lines that act as a finger hold for moving panels."

Mella Shaw

Mella Shaw describes herself as "an artist using clay to make objects and site-specific installations." She explains that her techniques for creating her eye-catching work include slip-casting, press moulding, hand-building and sand blasting, but for her, "the individual idea determines the approach."

"This conscious decision-making allows me to craft thought-provoking work informed by each site-specific context," she says. "I bring my background in anthropology, material culture and museums to the mix as well, and feel strongly that the idea and the material are equally important; it is only through the craft-based skills I have developed as a ceramicist that I can work in the way I do – always thinking through making."

At Collect, Mella is showing a ceramic installation called HARVEST. "It consists of a large amount of press-moulded and slip-cast ceramic fish and ceramic plastic containers," she says. "It addresses the urgent issue of plastic pollution in our seas and oceans. We are on the cusp of a devastating environmental tipping point as it is predicted that, unless something drastically changes, by 2050 there will be a greater weight of plastic in the oceans than fish."

Mella will be showing her work as part of the curated space called Collect Open, which she says is an "invaluable opportunity on many levels - firstly to show my work in an incredible venue, The Saatchi Gallery, but also to get my work seen by an audience that is very clued up about high-end craft and making. As well as this, it is really exciting to be showing my work along side so many established makers that I look up to and respect."

Collect is not the only outing HARVEST is set to get this year.

"The Creative Scotland funding I received allows me to show my installation HARVEST in two venues in Scotland," she says. "The first is Custom Lane, in Leith, Edinburgh, 15 March – 11 April, and then later on in the summer, I am showing it again at The Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, Fife, 6 July - 23 September.

"Each of these will give me an opportunity to display HARVEST in new ways and present it to different audiences. I then plan to continue to tour the project over the coming year."

Collect 2018, 22 - 25 February 2018, Saatchi Gallery, London.

This article was published on 22 Feb 2018