27 February – 1 March 2020
Somerset House, London.
Collect is the most exciting gallery presented show of new contemporary international craft held in the UK each year. Angus is currently working on the Sutherland Collection inspired by Scottish vernacular furniture and the rituals around whisky drinking.
We are delighted to be returning to Collect with Craft Scotland and seven exceptional Scottish makers working in silver, metal, textiles, wood and ceramics.
For more on the makers visit the Craft Scotland website here.
Collect is organised by the British Crafts Council.
“This year, Collect brings together international galleries from across the globe, each curating their own displays to sell work made in the last five years by the world’s leading contemporary artists and designers. With artists represented from over 25 nations from Sweden to Uganda to Japan, the breadth of exceptional work on show will range from ceramics, glass, metal, wood and textiles to makers working in non-traditional materials with experimental techniques.”
For more about Collect see here.
This year for the first time Collect will be in Somerset House. An iconic neo-classical building on the River Thames and now a vibrant arts centre. We had several years presenting work in the Origin pavilion in the courtyard and we have previously exhibited in one of the beautiful rooms with Crafted: Makers of the Exceptional.
To buy tickets please go to
If you are planning to visit please get in touch. Angus and Lorna will be in London for most of that week.
Images above show the new Sutherland Chair in progress and images below show some details of the top of the new Sutherland Drinks Cabinet.
Making for Collect is a very different process to making for a commission. Usually commissioned furniture starts with design process moving through sketching, model-making and detailed drawings. At each stage there may be collaboration with the client (whether an individual or commissioning team). For Collect there is much more freedom and experimentation at the making stage and it goes from sketch to bench. Angus builds with the components and calls this “sketching with wood”.
Inspiration for one-off seating for exhibition often evokes a place (Tay Bench) or place and movement (Spey Bench) or place and structure (Forth Bench). This collection has been inspired by the dramatic landscape of Sutherland as well as the remarkable collection of furniture at Highland Folk Museum Newtonmore. There is an open air museum for visitors with reconstructions of how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up to 1950s.
We were given privileged access to a new purpose built storage facility, ‘Am Fasgadh’ which houses over 10,000 items, including the largest collection of Scottish vernacular furniture, as well as a conservation laboratory, research areas, library, meeting rooms and offices. Access to this collection is by appointment. We were very fortunate to visit with our friend furniture historian David Jones, previously lecturer in Scottish vernacular furniture at St Andrew’s university, who was able to explain how some design elements could be tracked across time and place. For example there was a fine chair from North West Scotland whose design could be traced to the Vikings. Images of the collection are below.
I was reminded of visiting the Design Museum in Copenhagen and the explosion in mid-century furniture design after students were able to closely study a broad collection of chairs ranging across time and place housed in the museum below their studio.
We love the dramatic landscape of North West Scotland and Sutherland and the Vikings had a big impact on language, design and culture in that area. The unique landscape has a geology that makes mind-boggling deep-time visible. The earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago and the Lewisian Gneiss rock below the water and boggy flat ground in the picture above was formed 3 billion years ago! The Gneiss rock started as molten lava which was later thrust deep into the earth when it melted and metamorphosed into the hard Gneiss. The dramatic island mountains, including Suilvan (below) are made of Torridon sandstone created by river sediment one billion years ago when simple life first began (and now found as fossils in the sandstone). At that time Scotland was part of a supercontinent located south of the equator (including what became Canada and Greenland). Over eons the tectonic plates move northwards, warm seas form and evaporate (creating more sandstone), volcanic rocks erupt, and 400 million years ago tectonic plates collide to form a vast mountain range, greater than than the Himalaya’s, which then split apart and erode (now Norway, North America, Ireland and North-West Scotland). Other Sutherland rocks were deserts and tropical swaps and all were eroded 2 million years ago by ice ages until layers of Lewisian Gneiss is revealed. The Torridon sandstone island mountains have tops of hard weather resistant Cambrian Quartsite which have protected the mountain from erosion whilst the surrounding sandstone has been eroded away. Peat, trees, animals and people appeared in the last 10,000 years.
Phew – apologies geologists for the gross over-simplification and thanks to the North West Scotland Geopark which we visited last year. Suffice to say this landscape is special and the Sutherland Collection has made some attempt to evoke it. This will become clearer in the next newsletter when more images are available.
If you are planning to visit Collect please email us and let us know!