I love to visit the annual New Designers show in Islington, North London every year and it is a show I try not to miss. It doesn’t seem long ago that I was exhibiting there as a graduating student myself. The raw talent of the year’s graduates is always exciting to see, their futures not yet mapped out. It is a joy to see them showcasing their work. Their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious and you can feel their anticipation of what their future creative careers may hold.
At the end of last month I popped along to part one of the show which includes textiles, fashion and accessories, contemporary applied arts, ceramics, glass and jewellery and precious metalwork. I like to catch up with the tutors from Edinburgh College of Art where I studied and spend a couple of hours wandering around the show, looking at work, chatting with the graduates and supporting them by buying some work.
This year work of ceramicist Alison Rees caught my eye and I bought a few of her pieces. She had completed her studies a year ago and was exhibiting in the One Year On section of the show, where a select few designers from the previous year’s show are invited to exhibit again and are given a space to showcase their latest work. It was the graphic quality and small scale of Alison’s ceramics that I loved and drew me in. They work beautifully as a group and can be arranged in all sorts of configurations. I thought I would share these simple photos I took of them displayed in my home.
After we had been chatting for ten minutes, I gave her my business card and she looked at it and said, “I read your blog!!” It was quite a coincidence and I went rather red as it doesn’t happen very often!
Alison’s little pots now sit proudly on a shelf in my kitchen where I see them every time I pass by and give me such pleasure. You can get a sense of scale of them in the photo below, they’re about an inch and a half high. She is continuing her studies next year at the Royal College of Art and I wish her every success and will definitely be popping along to the RCA shows in the future.
You can see more of Alison’s work on her website here.
Purchasing work from new graduates means that not only do you have the most wonderful original art in your home but it shows support for them as they move in to the next stage of their creative lives. We have bought work from graduates almost every year since about 1996 which was when we had our first apartment with empty walls to fill. And now with the web it is much easier to keep in touch and see how they are getting on which is great.
We have work from textile artists like Debbie Smyth whose work you may now be familiar with, and Marion Parola who recently set up Bespoke Atelier textile design studio in Glasgow and also runs textile design workshops. Last year we bought a piece of work by Lesley Elliott which I posted about here. She is now studying film and recently travelled to Iceland to make a short film about their horses which has since won an award. You can see the film here.
If there is an art college near you it is worth finding out when the shows are on and going along if you can.
My very best wishes to all of this year’s design graduates for your future careers.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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