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Makers take to world stage as Venice hosts first major international craft event

Published: 12 Sep 2018

Craft Scotland

In a significant boost for craft in Scotland, Craft Scotland is delighted to announce the presentation of three of Scotland’s renowned makers in the first ever Best of Europe craft exhibition. Taking place as part of Homo Faber a new international celebration of craft and craftsmanship in Venice from 14 - 30 September, the exhibition showcases the finest art and artisan craftsmanship created by individual talent in Europe today. 

Scotland based makers Patricia Shone, Frances Priest and Amanda Simmons have been selected as part of a showcase featuring of 150 makers across Europe. They have been carefully selected for the exhibit by curator and gallerist Jean Blanchaert, who sought not only to showcase examples of European creativity and craftsmanship at the very highest level, but to demonstrate the diversity of Europe’s artistic heritage, as contemporary artisans draw on traditional techniques and materials that are firmly rooted in their homeland.

We are incredibly proud of Scottish craft and events like this are integral to making sure the rest of the world has the opportunity to see the fantastic work being made here in Scotland- Clive Gillman, Creative Scotland

Patricia Shone’s work is informed by the powerful landscape around her on the Isle of Skye. Her highly textured vessels are fired using a variety of techniques and temperatures - raku firing, wood firing and saggar firing - to create a range of effects reflecting the geology of the land.

Amanda Simmons makes kiln formed glass objects, playing with gravity in the kiln. Manipulating mass, heat, colour and time she creates complex, elusive work that has intense colour and pattern which reacts to the light it is placed in.

Frances Priest’s work explores cultural histories of ornament and decoration through collections of ornately drawn and coloured ceramic objects. Her latest collection of works explore and reflect upon the collections of patterns gathered by Owen Jones in The Grammar of Ornament. The piece featured in Best of Europe is covered in hand drawn and glazed patterns - reflecting on the labour intensive process involved in creating pattern in decorative art, such as mosaic, embroidery, weave, marquetry.

Craft Scotland Director Fiona Logue said: ‘Craft Scotland works diligently to raise the profile of Scottish craft internationally as we know our highly talented makers can engage on the worldwide stage. Being part of the Michelangelo Foundation Network has ensured Scottish participation in this momentous exhibition. The selection of work by Frances Priest, Amanda Simmons and Patricia Shone for such a prestigious showcase is testament to their work and to the renown of Scottish craft as a whole. I very much look forward to seeing their work enjoying well deserved global attention among the Best of Europe.

Curator of Best of Europe Jean Blanchaert said: “The black ceramic raku work of Patricia Shone has a prehistory flavour and, in the same time, gives you an impression of a very distant future. The ceramic of Frances Priest, composed by numerous mosaics, emanate a great joy and has the colours of an imaginary and still unknown Scottish clan. Somebody could think that the glass powder would be like sand, unholdable. But Amanda Simmons found a way to compact this powder. In these two objects you can even see migrant white birds flying in a blue sky.”

Clive Gillman, Director of Creative Industries at Creative Scotland said: “We are incredibly proud of Scottish craft and events like this are integral to making sure the rest of the world has the opportunity to see the fantastic work being made here in Scotland. Craft Scotland does an excellent job of keeping Scottish craft at the forefront of the global conversation and supporting our makers and we are delighted we can support them to do this work.”

Selected maker Patricia Shone said: “I am hugely honoured and surprised to have been selected for such an extraordinary show. To have a piece of my work alongside so many great artisans’ work from all over Europe was unthinkable until it happened.  This exhibition is all about the very best abilities of human hands and imagination. For me it is particularly poignant to be included as we head towards Brexit, but I am optimistic that although our politics may be moving away from inclusion in Europe, our common humanity and history will always connect us across borders.”

Best of Europe is one of 16 exhibits that make up Homo Faber: Crafting a more human future, a major new exhibition celebrating European craftsmanship, organised by the Michelangelo Foundation. Hundreds of exceptional works created by some 150 artist-artisans from all over Europe will be exhibited for Best of Europe, stunningly displayed in a room envisioned and designed by renowned Italian architect Stefano Boeri.