During a recent trip to London, which coincided with London Craft Week, I had the opportunity to visit the outdoor pavilion at Contemporary Applied Arts. Part of ‘The Crafted City’ project, this was an initiative designed to demonstrate excellence in craftsmanship and celebrate the role of making. The work shown during the event included ceramics by UK artist, Robert Cooper. Cooper frequently uses found objects in his work and this particular exhibition consisted of candlesticks made from a myriad of objects. Many were recognisable – some were not. They included pottery shards, handles, lids, fragments of dishes and spouts. There were glimpses of Victoriana, indications of previous use, the possibility of former lives lived, suggestions of other times and distant places.
Our relationship with objects is complex one and we are attracted to them for many reasons. Sometimes they are social signifiers or hold value (be it cultural, or even monetary). Perhaps they define beauty for us, create an interesting narrative or maybe we are just inexplicable drawn to them and their meaning remains a mystery. I’m not altogether sure what attracts me to Robert Copper’s work. In creating something new from the remnants of history, his work creates an interesting juxtaposition of past and present. Maybe it appeals to my interest in both the history of the handmade and contemporary craft. A reminder of the rich history of clay and how makers today continue that tradition and sometimes interpret the past in new, and sometimes unexpected, ways.