40:40 - forty objects for forty years

The Crafts Council celebrates 40 years of the Crafts Council Collection with a major exhibition: 40:40 - forty objects for forty years.

It is part of an exploration into ambitious digital online presentations and gateways, seen in the online exhibition programme and the new online Collection catalogue and images library, launching in early 2012.

40:40 - forty objects for forty years is supported by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, enabling new content to be commissioned with the aim of piloting a new approach to a dynamic online archive.

The exhibition features 40 works from the Collection, each selected by an invited commentator: These friends and colleagues of the Crafts Council have a personal and professional relationship with us and the Collection and consist of makers, curators, and critics, who have contributed a personal interpretation or response to their object of choice. The objects are showcased with supporting films, audio clips or previously unseen archive material.

Alongside the invited commentaries are six newly commissioned groups of work. In continuation to our cross-arts engagement with the Collection and invitation for critical responses from a range of creative voices, these commissions are from poets, a sound artist, two creative collectives and an animator. These new commissions can be found under the Inspired! section of the site and present work that takes inspiration from, responds to, and reinterprets the selected objects, adding fresh insights into the works and the Collection.

The Crafts Council Collection: A Contemporary Craft Collection

The Crafts Council was founded in 1971 and incorporated under Royal Charter ten years later. The Collection forms an integral part of showcasing, promoting and celebrating contemporary craft. It is an active working collection, with objects represented in online and physical exhibitions, and loaned to UK museums and galleries.

For 40 years, the Crafts Council Collection has identified, acquired, documented and made accessible the best and most interesting examples of contemporary craft.

The Collection comprises over 1400 objects and reflects a national overview. The primary craft disciplines are represented, as are the unexpected including video, plastics, light, and works embracing digital innovation. Alongside established names, we ensure that work by emerging makers is acquired. Traditional and functional objects, as well as experimental work that pushes the notion of craft to its limits, are represented, the linking factors being quality of craftsmanship and makers’ inherent understanding of materials.

Works are acquired chronologically, within five years of making, providing a unique snapshot of contemporary craft practice for any one year.  Our acquisition policy stems from a drive to encourage critical debate within the craft sector, to challenge and provoke views of what contemporary craft is, could be and should be.

On Collecting: The Value of Public Collections

As well as serving to record the past, define the present and educate for the future, collections present the material evidence of creativity; they inspire, enthrall and enlighten.

Public collections are catalysts for creativity: access to the real object in a collection can offer new experiences for all. They can promote dialogue, debate and questioning, as well as underpin learning, creativity and cultural awareness for everyone, helping to make sense of the world around. Public collections are an invaluable resource for research and scholarship.

Alongside the pedagogic, inspirational and archival value of contemporary collections, the fiscal and economic value should not be underestimated.

Permanent collections of contemporary work are central to the public sector’s direct support and patronage of artists and makers and contribution to the cultural market. They also enable individuals as private collectors to make informed choices about their own purchases. Whereas in the 19th century, public collections evolved through the gifts and bequests of wealthy private collectors, it is now often public collections that inform and stimulate private collecting.

Responded to by...

Oscar & Ewan, Design Studio Alphabet Poster
Amanda Fielding Although the puff adder cannot fly it has caught the hornbill
Pete Collard Arcady
Sarah Mann Asentamiento Dress from the series ‘Duende A Time for Healing’
Maria Militsi Ballet to Remember
Jana Scholze Bedside Table/Alarm Clock
Lucian Taylor Big Beautiful Vase II
Corinne Julius Brooch, Spirit Level Series
Rachel Coldicutt Bubble Bath
Andrew Renton Budgie Teapot
Professor Simon Olding Chair
Paul Reynolds Cliché
Martina Margetts Conditions for Ornament no.4
Max Fraser Cross-fire Teapot, Natural Occurrence series
Mark Henderson Deep Bowl with lines incised through black pigment over white glaze
Tom Gallant Dress 09, Autumn Winter 2008
Rafael Molina Flat Jug
Matthew Turtle Grid Dish
Deirdre Figueiredo MBE Hand of Good, Hand of God
Shelly Goldsmith Loop
Alun Graves Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot
Professor Catherine McDermott Miss Ramirez Chair
Ralph Turner Neckpiece With Thin Articulated Pendant
Philip Hughes Observed Incident
David Watkins Primary Orbits
Michael Marriott Prototype Square Table
Professor Polly Binns Remember Me
Lin Cheung Room Temperature
Philippa Brock Self Assembly
Joanna Foster Small yellow bowl
Glenn Adamson Space Ship Derelict
Drummond Masterton Star Tesselation Dish ST 14
Aidan Walker Star Wars Chair
Malcolm Garrett T-Shirt and Jacket
Vicky Richardson Table=Chest
Daniel Charny Twig Brooch
Professor Stephen Dixon Virgin and Child
Shane RJ Walter Wedgwoodn’t Tureen
Rosy Greenlees Wednesday Light
Caroline Broadhead Wobbly Dress

~ Acknowledgments ~

The Crafts Council would like to thank all those who contributed to the project and made it possible, including the forty commentators, and those commissioned to produce new work.

ico Design
Sound recording (Paul Adrian)
James Addyman, BBC 
Crafts Council project team
Claire West, Director of Programmes
Annabelle Campbell, Exhibitions & Collection Manager
Sarah Turner, Exhibitions Project Officer
Paul Reynolds, Inspire Intern
Nick Stevens, Web Project Officer
Supported by: Candice O. Brien, Oknim Jo, Neringa Stoskute, MA Curating Contemporary Design, Kingston University London
Particular thanks to
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for the generous support with the new commissions and contributions.

Disclaimer: Every effort is made to obtain permission to reproduce the text and images on this website from the relevant copyright holders and to ensure that all credits are correct. We have acted in good faith and on the best information available to us at the time of publication. Any omissions are inadvertent, and will be corrected if notification is given in writing. If you become aware of any material that you believe infringes your copyright, please contact exhibitions@craftscouncil.org.uk.