Meaning Behind Materiality: London Craft Week 2021

6 - 31 October 2021
  • Meaning Behind Materiality marks Cynthia Corbett Gallery’s fourth year of participation in London Craft Week, a festival celebrating outstanding British and international creativity. The curation includes Gallery artists Matt Smith, Albert Montserrat and Klari Reis. Young Masters are represented by Amy Hughes, Amanda McCavour, Emilie Taylor and Elin Hughes, while Guest Artists are Freya Bramble-Carter, Rafaela de Ascanio and Tanya Gomez. The showcase offers a deep dive into  the different forms of craft which include ceramics, textiles and mixed media: from Albert Montserrat’s vessels, brought to perfection to Elin Hughes’s deconstructed pots, from Tanya Gomez’s glacial tureens to Freya Bramble-Carter’s colourful natureinspired vases, from Amy Hughes and Matt Smith’s revisitations of Alhambra vases and Rococo subject matters to Klari Reis’s studies in microbiology and experimentation with epoxy polymer, while Emilie Taylor and Rafaela de Ascanio look at their respective pots and spheres as mediums for expression of feministic ideas and messages. Finally, Amanda McCavour’s Poppies installation offers the viewers a walkthrough an embroidery forest with a deep hidden meaning.


    The art historian Michael Rosenthal described Thomas Gainsborough as "one of the most technically proficient and, at the same time, most experimental artists of his time" – and this same aesthetic inspired our curators during their work on Unpacking Gainsborough. Exquisite mastery of technique and medium along with reference to the art of the past are the founding values of the Young Masters platform, while Cynthia Valianti Corbett has always championed experimentation in both emerging and established artists represented by her eponymous Gallery. After London Craft Week the exhibition at Gainsborough Hotel will expand into a dedicated Frieze Art showcase from the 12th through 31st October. The following Gallery artists will be presented within this phygital curation: Deborah Azzopardi, Lluís Barba, Andy Burgess, Anne- Françoise Couloumy, Fabiano Parisi and Tuëma Pattie. Young Masters and Guest artists will include Alastair Gordon, Dina Bukva, Lottie Davies and Yuki Aruga.

  • “It is fascinating to see how Gainsborough Hotel’s lobby is transformed into a pop-up space where the most fascinating artistic dialogues are happening! The empty Rococo villas of Fabiano Parisi are mirrored by the snow-clad abandoned British country home of Lottie Davies and the Hammershøi-lit lonely rooms of Anne-Françoise Couloumy – providing the viewer with a quiet contemplative moment amidst one very busy hotel lobby. Yuki Aruga’s lavish flowers and Alastair Gordon’s paper darts look at different aspects of quodlibet and Tuëma Pattie’s realistic and more abstract landscapes invite the viewer on a journey through the artist’s prolific career,”  -  says Cynthia Valianti Corbett, the Gallerist.


  • Rafaela De Ascanio

    Rafaela De Ascanio

    De Ascanio’s paintings and sculptures work in tandem, compiling layers of iconography and exchanging symbols to explore the female experience through differing processes. Her paintings have a tropical colour palette, attributed to her early years spent in the volcanic Canary Islands. She hand builds clay into anatomical forms that are glazed with flowing circular narratives and fired to create enduring stone bodies. De Ascanio portrays the female in defiant guises, empowering both her and the viewer. Images emerge from autobiographical events, fantastical symbols from sci-fi film and literature, esoteric pagan practices, and ‘fire and brimstone’ altarpieces. Disrupting the patriarchal narratives propagated throughout art history, she revisualises the female as the protagonist and leader, with sexual ownership, and psychological resilience.

  • Freya Bramble-Carter

    Freya Bramble-Carter

    Freya Bramble-Carter is a London based ceramics artist, known for creating contemporary designs, strongly inspired by the ethos of beauty and nature. Freya combines her lifestyle, work and enjoyment in one and tries to live in the most true and authentic way she can learning and expanding on a personal level as well as professionally in this art form.

    Before studying fine art at Chelsea College of Arts Freya learned the craft of clay under her father’s guidance (Chris Bramble), and then through teaching, but enjoys the process of ‘unlearning’ the rules when it comes to making her own pieces. Having always felt a strong physical connection to the clay she works with, Freya believes in creating pieces with soul, that inspire and become a source of energy in the home.

    Freya’s work ranges from fine homewares including plates and bowls to sculptural pieces for the home and garden.


    Applying her talent to artisan glazes and handcrafting unique silhouettes, Freya's limited edition pieces are designed to elevate the details of your home or act as the perfect go to for a thoughtful gift.

  • Tanya Gomez

    Tanya Gomez

    Tanya Gomez is a celebrated ceramist renown for her porcelain vessels in her signature lustrous colours.


    With an MA in Ceramics from the Royal College of Art, Tanya’s process is practice led. Developed from traditional methods and disciplines Tanya has honed her skills over the last 15 years and uses dynamic throwing, cutting and assembling techniques to create large cylindrical shapes. Impactful both individually and as a group, her vessels create expressive, vivid landscapes and fluid, architectural forms.

  • Amy Hughes

    Amy Hughes

    British Amy Hughes’s practice is both fuelled by and symbolic of the highly prestigious Porcelain wares produced at the Royal Sèvres Factory in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Hughes’ works reference and pay homage to the originals, but are created with a freer approach, giving them a new lease of life.

    After Alhambra pieces take inspiration from the large lustre vases produced during the Nasrid Dynasty (the last Muslim Dynasty in the Iberian peninsula, ruling Granada) in the 14th and 15th centuries which became romantically known as 'Alhambra Vases', and of which only 8 remain in semi-intact existence today. The skill, the legend, the intrigue surrounding these vases captivated and fuelled my fascination to explore a contemporary response to the stunning relics. The forms, the two wing-like handles, the horizontal decorations all reference the originals, the rawness in composition and materiality nodding to their faded beauty. Drawing studies of their intricate surface pattern have been enlarged and explored on the coil and slab built forms creating exciting pattern and shape with a colourful and lively approach. 

    Amy Hughes works and exhibits internationally, including high profile Collect art fair with the Crafts Council with Cynthia Corbett Gallery and a spell as Artist in Residence at Konstfack School, Stockholm, Sweden. She was nominated to represent the UK in ‘New Talent’ at the European Ceramic Context 2014 as well as being shortlisted for the inaugural Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize 2014 for artists who show an exceptional command of ceramics, alongside an awareness of the heritage of ceramic craft.

  • In 2015, Hughes was chosen as the first Ceramics and Industry Artist in Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum working in collaboration with 1882Ltd, as well as being selected as one of eleven artists for AWARD at the British Ceramics Biennial ‘presenting new works exemplifying the energy and vitality of the best of British contemporary ceramics practice.’ 

    In 2018 her first solo show Garniture at Croome Court (part of the National Trust) was funded by Arts Council England – she had the opportunity of working with Croome Court's extensive collections. Most recently she was selected as one of 5 commissioned Artists to work with at The Leach Pottery St Ives on the Leach 100, which is part of centenary celebrations looking at the past, the present and the future of studio pottery. In 2021 she will be participating in For the Love of the Master: 25 artists fascinated by Piranesi – a group exhibition celebrating the legacy of this versatile Roman artist in the 21st century. This homage to Piranesi will be held in Dublin Castle & the Casino at Marino, Dublin.

  • Elin Hughes

    Elin Hughes

    Elin Hughes was shortlisted for the Young Masters MaylisGrand Ceramics prize in 2019 and was one often artists selected for MOMA Machynlleth’s ‘YoungWelsh Artists’ showcase in 2020. Sincegraduating from the BA Ceramics at Cardiff Schoolof Art and Design in 2019, Elin has shownwork in multiple exhibitions around the United Kingdom,most recently at Circle Contemporary inCornwall, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Dover StreetMarket in London. She currently lives andworks in Dolgellau, North Wales.

  • Emilie Taylor

    Emilie Taylor

    Emilie Taylor was born in 1980 in Sheffield, where she now lives and works. Her large scale ceramics use heritage craft processes, particularly traditional slipware, to interpret and represent post-industrial landscapes. Emilie is interested in the pot as container and metaphor for how we seek to contain different communities within society. Beyond the studio she works with the communities represented in her work, and through interdisciplinary projects hopes to apply the alchemical quality of ceramics in a socially engaged context. Emilie has completed residencies in the UK and abroad, and has exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Ruthin Craft Centre, Gallery Oldham and the Arts & Crafts House Blackwell. Her most recent solo exhibition (May Day, May Day, May Day) at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum concludes 11th of July 2021. Her work forms part of public and private collections.

  • Albert Montserrat

    Albert Montserrat

    Albert Montserrat is totally convinced that ceramics is the most noble, traditional and humanly attached material of all. Also, historically, what this material has allowed us, the humanity, to achieve, in all aspects, from improving our health to a medium of expression, is immense. This makes him feel real veneration and respect to it. He shows a very particular interest for the highly technically demanding oriental glazes from the Old Masters, having inspired him to make an extensive research, giving the strong finish to Montserrat’s work. Glazes are his passion. He is fascinated to see and endlessly test what the chemical elements around us bring to the surface of the vessels that he throws on the wheel. He has a special interest in the traditional vessels that the history of ceramics has brought to us. From the Egyptian canopic jars to the Roman amphoras or the Korean moon jars.


    Montserrat has been intensively and continuously making ceramics for over ten years in Spain, Mexico and the UK. His work is held in public collections in Spain and the UK and in private collections in Qatar, USA, UK, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Belgium and France. He won the Barcelona’s Ceramics Biennial in 2018. Montserrat holds several internationally acclaimed awards: Highly Commended Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize 2019 and Young Masters Lerouge Knight Art Award 2019.

  • Klari Reis

    Klari Reis

    Klari Reis uses the tools and techniques of science in her creative process, constantly experimenting with new ways to apply materials and methods. She is driven by curiosity and her desire to explore and document the natural and unnatural with a sense of wonder and joy. Formally trained as an architect, the artist from her base in San Francisco (in proximity to one of the largest concentrations of life science/technology companies in the world) collaborates with local biomedical companies and is inspired by the cutting edge of biological techniques and discoveries.

    The unifying theme of Klari Reis’s art is her mastery of a new media plastic, epoxy polymer, and the fine control she brings to its reactions with a variety of dyes and pigments. Her compositions display brightly coloured smears, bumps and blobs atop aluminum and wood panels. A skilled technician with a studio for a laboratory, Reis uses science in the service of her art.

    Klari Reis's work has been exhibited worldwide and public collections include Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK; Next World Capital’s offices in San Francisco, Paris, and Brussels; MEG Diagnostic Centre for Autistic Children in Oxford, UK; Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London; the Stanford University Medical Center Hoover Pavilion in California; and Elan Pharmaceuticals, Genentech, Acetelion and Cytokinetics in South San Francisco.

  • Matt Smith

    Matt Smith

    UK-born Matt Smith is well known for his site-specific work in museums, galleries and historic houses. Using clay, textiles and their associated references, he explores how cultural organisations operate using techniques of institutional critique and artist intervention. He is interested in how history is a constantly selected and refined narrative that presents itself as a fixed and accurate account of the past and how, through taking objects and repurposing them in new situations, this can be brought to light. Of particular interest to him is how museums can be reframed into alternative perspectives.


    In June 2020 our long-standing partner Contemporary Art Society has acquired twelve ceramic and tapestry works by artist Matt Smith. This acquisition will become a central focus for the displays at the Hove Museum when it reopens. This exciting project was possible due to the Contemporary Art Society’s Rapid Response Fund in partnership with Frieze London, which is a new initiative supporting artists and museums during the Covid-19 pandemic. The CAS Rapid Response Fund is being used to purchase works by artists to add to collections of museums across the UK – ensuring financial support goes where it is needed most. We are thrilled that Hove Museum will now feature a major installation of Matt Smith's artworks, which is highly illustrative of his style and artistic research. Much of Matt Smith’s work explores and comments on marginalised history and it will form a key inspiration for activity sessions as the museum expands its work with groups with varied critical social needs.

  • "What museums collect, and what this tells us about what society deems important, is an ongoing fascination to me. Recent events have shown how important objects, and particularly sculpture, are in the national debate about who we are and how we got here. I have worked with the museums in Brighton and Hove many times over the last decade and am delighted that this acquisition leads on from that relationship. I look forward to seeing how the works are interpreted and curated to help the widest possible audience feel welcomed and visible within the museums," – Smith says.


    In 2015 / 2016, Matt was Artist in Residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2009 he received the ARC Award for Craft from Aspex Gallery and was awarded the inaugural Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize in 2014. At Collect 2018, he was awarded "Object of the Show" by Ekow Eshun. For Collect 2020, Cynthia Corbett and Matt Smith co-curated a site-specific installation featuring textiles and black parian works. The curation was extremely well-received, and Matt was awarded the inaugural Brookfield Properties Crafts Council Collection Prize, which allowed the Crafts Council to purchase six artworks for the Council's collection. The V&A Museum's Design and Textiles department also acquired one of Matt's subversive embroideries.


    Matt regularly exhibits his work at public collections including Coming Out, Walker Art Gallery 2017, A Place at the Table, Pallant House, 2014; Subversive Design, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 2013; DIY A Revolution in Handicrafts, Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburg, 2010.

  • Amanda McCavour

    Amanda McCavour

    Based in Toronto, Amanda McCavour is a Canadian artist who works with stitch to create large-scale embroidered installations. She holds a BFA from York University, where she studied drawing. In May 2014, she completed her MFA in Fibers and Material Studies at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. From 2007 through 2010, McCavour was an Artist-in-Residence at Harbourfront Centre’s Craft & Design Studio. Her work has been exhibited in galleries nationally and internationally, with recent solo exhibitions in 2019 Pink Field, Blue Fog at the Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg (ON); Consumed by Clouds at the Kootenay Gallery of Art, History and Science, Castlegar (BC); The Floating Garden at Workhouse Arts Centre, Lorton (VA); and Pink Field, Blue Fog at Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center, Sioux Falls (SD). Upcoming projects for 2021 include new installations for Paige Court, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison (WI) and The Delaplaine Arts Center, Frederick (MD). She is also working towards a commission for Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia (SC) in 2022. McCavour has received numerous awards and scholarships from the Ontario Crafts Council, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of America, The Ontario Society of Artists, The Surface Design Association, and The Embroiderers Guild of America.


    In her work, McCavour uses a sewing machine to create thread drawings and large scale installations. By sewing into fabric that dissolves in water, she can build up stitched lines on a temporary surface. The crossing threads create strength so that when the fabric is dissolved, the thread drawing can hold together without a base. With only the thread remaining, these images appear as though they would be easily unraveled and seemingly on the verge of falling apart, despite the works ravelled strength. The artist is interested in thread's assumed vulnerability, its ability to unravel, and its strength when it is sewn together.


    Poppies” began as a commission of one-hundred flowers, hanging and photographed to commemorate 100 years from the end of the First World War. From these humble beginnings, this work expanded to hundreds of embroidered poppies hung upside down from the ceiling creating dream-like environment. The poppies are a keepsake, memory and a tender reminder of life, time and space.

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