In a creative sphere that is still viewed as predominantly euro-centric, these fresh voices on the collectible and high-craft scene are building new bridges for cross-cultural exchange and greater understanding.
A recent graduate from Wolverhampton University, Christopher Day is an emerging glass and mixed media artist who received a special commendation at the 2019 British Glass Biennale. A self-confessed ‘arts enthusiast’, Day’s creative career comes after more than two decades as a self-employed plumber. Initially feeling that his life had taken him on a journey that significantly detoured away from his early love of the arts, Day is now able to reflect on the fact that many of the skills he has developed in his earlier career have directly transposed to the creation of his artworks. A relatively late bloomer in the glassblowing world, he is often seen as Britain’s only black glassblower.
Wolverhampton, the birthplace of the Black Arts Movement of the 1980s inspired Day to make work that starts conversations about race. Stories like the murder of Emmett Till, other American lynchings, as well as his own experiences as an artist of British Jamaican heritage informing his highly personal works.
Day’s intention is to discuss and investigate the treatment of black people in Britain and the United States of America, with much of his research now focused on the history of the slave trade in the Eighteenth Century.
Born and raised in China, Jinya Zhao discovered a passion for glass whilst studying for a BA at the China Academy of Art and MA at the Royal College of Art in UK. Currently Zhao is doing an Artist-in-Residence at the Southern Illinois University in USA. She sees glass as an ideal medium to explore the themes of environment, emotions and personal experiences.
Her work spans sculpture, installation and design. In her current collection, ‘Non-existent Existence’, Zhao has created a body of new work, using different glass qualities in order to explore the subtle relationships and tensions between colour, form and structure.
Her intention is to playfully explore how glass can affect the viewer’s perception of reality and to engender emotional responses. For this collection she uses opaque and transparent layered blown glass to deliberately obscure the interior of the specific enigmatic forms. This creates a paradoxical interpretation of what is interior or exterior.
Hand-building ceramic forms, Egypt-born Ashraf Hanna makes both individual and related groups of vessels, each object informing the next. The profiles, lines and spaces emerging from this process of development, their ultimate placement in relation to one another, the juxtaposition of sharp lines and softer curves, have become a major interest to him.
The forms Hanna develops are further enhanced by the introduction of a carefully considered, restrained palette of refined slips and stained clays. The pared-down nature of these new forms and the subtle surface treatments combine to produce vessels that are concerned with the essence of form.
His work is held in many public collections including, The V & A Museum, London, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, The National Museum of Wales and the Museum Ariana — Geneva-Switzerland.
Inspired by the rich woodland surrounding his birthplace of Nagoya, Japan, Kazuhito Takadoi grows and hand picks grasses, leaves and twigs from his garden, sowing each blade through the paper. As the grasses dry and mature they embark on a subtle colour shift, comparative to seasonal change.
For Takadoi, his work is a collaboration with Nature; taking materials that his environment offers and with them trying to convey aspects or moments of it. Nature is ephemeral and he sees his work as an interruption to the natural process of decay.
The artist trained in Agriculture and Horticulture in Japan, the US and in the UK, before studying Art and Garden Design in the UK.
His works are in important private and corporate art collections including Fidelity, Loewe and the Toshiba Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2019 Takadoi was awarded a Special Mention at the Loewe Crafts Prize.
These artists are part of the Crafting a Difference showcase, currently running in London at SoShiro gallery. Curated by Brian Kennedy, the show brings together galleries Cavaliero Finn, Jaggedart, Madeinbritaly, Ting Ying Gallery and Vessel Gallery, together presenting over 75 established and emerging artists from around the world.