Northern Stars

A mixed media exhibition of work by the Crafts Council’s Hothouse 2012/13 participants
Bluecoat Display Centre
Until 14th September 2013

Review by Gayna Rose Madder

Hothouse is a programme of support for emerging artists, providing advice to assist them with nurturing their specific disciplines and careers in the craft sector. The ever-innovative Bluecoat Display Centre is one of three institutions working with the Crafts Council as partners in the Hothouse project, in the North.

The eclectic collection of objects on display features the work of nine artists, and includes some truly original pieces; hard to achieve in this competitive area, when so much has already been done. But it provides evidence that the process this concept offers is working.

For me, the brightest of these Northern Stars is Catherine Carr. Her exhibits, mainly dishes of different sizes, are crocheted or knitted from glass, by hand. The effect is quite extraordinary.

Each piece glistens and glitters, some with a metallic caste, others with a crystalline quality. Made of recycled glass, the delicate lace structures play with light and leave striking shadows.

It is touching to discover that, using skills now fading in use, taught by her grandmother, the artist also used patterns inherited from her to make the pieces, thus celebrating and keeping in memory and in use skills inspired by women workers in the textile mills of northern England.

Fay Jenkinson also finds an unusual use for a glass medium in her jewellery collection here - porcelain. Generally considered too fragile. Fay utilizes this inherent weakness, deliberately breaking the pieces, then incorporating the repair into the design, along with resin, gold and silver. This collection is again of completely individual items, and very beautifully designed.

Boundaries between the expected use of materials or tools and what else can be done with both are blurred in the work of many of the artists featured, and this becomes something of a theme of the whole exhibition. Jill Shaddock's contemporary ceramic objects, formed by slipcasting in layers, raise questions about functionality. Minimalist designs using a limited colour palette, invite exploration as to whether they can be used, or are decorative, aesthetic objets d'art.

Other artists' work featured include Naomi Robinson's ceramic vessels, Grant Aston's sculptures, Greig Alderman's hand-made art jewellery, Anne Laycock's 'scribble vessels', Kirsty Pearson's hand-drawn jewellery, Sarah Pasley:'s 'shiny things' and Drew Markou's wide, overlapping range of works, which includes jewellery, vessels, furniture, sculpture and landscape.

This fascinating exhibition has been curated to showcase some of the most talented, innovative emerging artists currently working, and is unmissable. It is also worth mentioning that the prices of obtaining these singular, unusual and potentially valuable works is very reasonable.

Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool Hope University & Yorkshire Artspace are working with the Crafts Council as Hothouse partners in the North.

Bluecoat Display Centre, 50-51 the Bluecoat, College Lane Entrance, Liverpool L1 3BZ
T: +44 (0)151 7094014

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