Documentary embroidery and social ceramics: the art vs craft debate
Works from Nest Gallery's latest group exhibition challenge traditional notions of craft and art
Ever since Emmanuel Kant defined art as “intrinsically final”, art and craft have remained theoretically distinct. For centuries the difference between art and craft has been the subject of philosophical debate and although closely related, their respective boundaries continue to be hotly contested. It is in these aesthetically muddy waters that artists from the female cooperative Nest Gallery love to dwell.
Nest Gallery’s latest exhibition The Great Outdoors reveals the diversity of what is currently referred to as “contemporary applied arts”. Taking the exhibition title as their umbrella theme, Nest Gallery’s group show features artworks in a variety of media including ceramics, embroidery, drawing, printmaking and installation art.
In her series of embroidered illustrations Reena Makwana marries an ancient sewing technique with candid observations of street culture more commonly associated with the likes of documentary photographer Martin Parr. Makwana’s intricate pieces, which can take more 30 hours to complete, immortalise aspects of Deptford’s bustling street life in coloured thread, from visits to the corner shop to mobility scootering.
Similarly inspired by observations of urban living, Alison Mure presents Wiff Waff, a pair of slip-cast ping pong bats featuring pencil drawings of players mid-swing. Mure’s work is a quirky and deftly crafted homage to the unexpected social interactions around London’s outdoor ping pong tables.
Photographs: Heygate Ladies © Reena Makwana (TOP), and Dale Beckwith (BOTTOM).