Friday 6 July 2018
One of the perks – though some might say a drawback – of being editor of F&C is that part of your remit is to view all kinds of furniture; contemporary, classic and period.
With that in mind, I went to MAKERS, an exhibition put on by the Northern Contemporary Furniture Makers (NCFM) at the Cube gallery in Manchester in May, and was blown away by the consistent high quality of craftsmanship and design on show.
This, I felt, was something special. This is the first time that NCFM has chosen the Cube to stage its exhibition, and the choice is a good one. It's a 10-minute stroll from Manchester Picadilly railway station, in the heart of the city centre. There's an impressive choice of places to rest up and refresh nearby; a handy convenience that adds to the whole visitor experience.
The MAKERS exhibition took place over two floors and featured work from other craft disciplines as well as the NCFM including glassware, silverware and a variety of printed media. At similar shows I often find the mix a little too eclectic to really appreciate the various art forms when they are displayed alongside each other. However, at the MAKERS exhibition, much to my relief, furniture was displayed amongst furniture; simple gesture, but one I appreciated.
Event organiser Janine Fishwick and designer/maker Gary Olson curated the exhibits and ensured each piece had space to breathe and be admired, which is an art in itself.
Out of around 50 pieces on display there were only a couple that I had seen before so this exhibition represented the very latest work from the group, which has amongst its ranks some familiar names: Robert Ingham, Chris Tribe, Richard Jones, Christine Meyer-Eaglestone and Wood Awards winner, Paul Case. With more than 1,000 visitors through the door and sales in the region of Â£10,000, the show at this venue is poised to become an annual event.
There's no such thing as a free lunch so it was a pleasure to have been asked to compile a list of five exhibits that best represented the description 'functional beauty'. Not an easy task considering there is a school of thought – Shaker – that holds no distinction between the two, but after much deliberation, here are a few that made the list plus a selection of others that were equally as impressive. To be honest, the quality of workmanship was so consistently high throughout, I thought it unfair to pick some and not others. Thanks for that, you lot.
However, I did come away from there with no doubt that the NCFM includes some the finest makers you're ever likely to see. Really.
To view more examples of the fantastic exhibition and to view the individual makers' portfolios of work, click here.