Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Director of Bluecoat Display Centre reviews Symposium: 'Building the Market for Collectors of Contemporary Craft in the North West'

Saturday October 11 6-9pm at the
The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2014

Angela Mann, Co-Director of GNCCF opening the evening
Bravely billed to take place from 6-9pm on a Saturday evening, the organisers of the recent symposium accompanying the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair risked the pull of the sofa from the ubiquitous X Factor and Strictly, and instead challenged the brain cells of the invited 50 professional art world attendees to concentrate on the topic of “Building the market for collectors in the North West.”

The setting was the Old Granada studios where over 150 individual contemporary designer makers stands showed over the long weekend. The space itself was huge and cavernous, with a slightly industrial “New York” loft feel -and while it was occasionally just a little chilly, it offered an enviably spacious way to view the incredibly diverse range of exciting individual work by established and emerging makers. The symposium was further complemented by the Ornament exhibition curated by Kelda Savage, who worked with leading North West based galleries to show collectable contemporary craft along with key pieces drawn from the collections or recommended artists.

Stimulating presentations by James Beighton, the former curator of MIMA, Jo Bloxham, a collector and curator and Louise Gardiner, a practicing artist and maker, set the scene and opened the questions and discussions regarding the collectors market. My neighbour remarked how clearly and cleverly Beighton explained the way the context of a craft piece changed once it became part of a public collection in response to a question raised from the floor.

The final summary of the night by the Chair of the Crafts Council, Professor Geoffrey Crossick, impressed me personally. In it he referenced the regular euphemisms of “the collectors market” and emphasised instead the importance to individual artists survival rates from the sale of work. Crossick also made the relevant point of the role of the gallery in achieving these, and suggested that a useful addition for future similar events could be the perspective of a contemporary craft gallery with retail 

Dr Maureen Bampton
Bluecoat Display Centre

Images: Chris Payne


The audience

James Beighton, former curator at MIMA