Friday 6 July 2018
The Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design exhibition is always a pleasure to visit as it represents perhaps the UK's largest collection of bespoke furniture held under one roof at any one time. Established makers' work sits alongside that of rising stars and in many cases the difference is hard to spot. CCD has a number of regular supporters with awards going to the piece that represents the best use of British timber. This year's winner was Dorset-based maker Peter Claydon of Red Leaf Surfboards with his long board. The Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) he uses comes from the Ashmore plantation near Shaftsbury. Peter Hall & Son and David Colwell were both highly commended by the judges for their writing desk and 'XTable' respectively.
In stark contrast was 'Mollusque', a piece by Marc Fish from his Robinson House Studio. Marc has developed a unique technique for creating vast sculptural forms that are lightweight but incredibly stable. 'Mollusque' is the second piece to feature the technique, which was also on display.
The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers singled out Kevin Stamper Furniture for their design award, but for me, the best work on display came from Mark Tamcken. His writing desk made from bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei), ebony (Diospyros spp.) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) was absolutely faultless, as were Ian Hawthorne's boxes.
Exhibition director, Jason Heap has grown the show year on year to increase the number of exhibits and the range of work on display to feature jewellery and other art-based disciplines to complement the furniture. There were 77 artists and makers this year, up from 60 in 2011 and with four days before the end of the show, sales figures had already eclipsed last year's total. It's possible that 2012 will be the last year we see Cheltenham College hosting the event as the current space is due for renovation. Negotiations are on-going to determine if this will prevent the space being available and CCD will be announcing a decision in due course. Whatever the result, we will naturally follow.