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Future Craftsmanship

Future Craftsmanship

The LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize (LFCP) is an international award highlighting the importance of craft today. It is now open for entries for the 2020 edition, looking for submissions from international practitioners. Aesthetica discusses the award, and the future of interdisciplinary practice, with Jury member Anatxu Zabalbeascoa and previous winner Jennifer Lee.

A: How important are prizes such as the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize for emerging artists?
AZ: We feel that their greatest win is the possibility of being seen. We have been informed of previous entrants’ participation in many exhibitions and of being asked to show their work worldwide. This is the goal of the Prize: to remind our society of the tremendous importance of well-done things. 

A: Why should artists get involved in initiatives such as this?
JL: A prize like the LFCP could inspire and encourage the next generation of makers. As an example, a young potter I didn’t know stopped me on the Underground to congratulate me. Her excitement at the idea that a potter like her could win such a prize one day was palpable.

A: What does the future of modern craftsmanship look like?
AZ: Modern craftsmanship might sound paradoxical, but it includes assimilated and updated traditional methods. In a society that has too many things – and yet no memory of things – craft is a reminder of what we as humans can create as a legacy. It is about knowledge, skills, patience, and therefore time, achievement and individual expression.

A: What impact has winning the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize had on your career?
JL: I’ve been working now for almost 40 years and I don’t regularly apply for prizes. It’s hard to quantify the impact of winning the LFCP – the most obvious result has been an enormous widening of exposure that I couldn’t have imagined. Because of the way the prize is organized all shortlisted makers have the opportunity to gain greater exposure. Thanks to the LFCP, I’ve also been introduced to new work and have met some wonderful people working in different areas.

A: What are you looking for in a winning work?
AZ: We look for outstanding works of craft with artistic ambition that update traditions and push the limits. We look for the unexpected, yet the unquestionably and skillfully well done. The works are at once state of the art and timeless – see winners, honorary mentions and finalists from previous editions.

A: Can you describe your winning piece?
JL: Titled Pale, shadowed speckled traces, fading ellipse, bronze specks, tilted shelf, 2017, the pot is hand-built using the ancient traditional techniques of pinching and coiling. It is made from basic elemental materials – clay, water and oxides. I have developed methods of colouring clay by mixing metal oxides before hand-building. There is no glaze or surface decoration, it is burnished with an agate before firing. Colour runs through the pot – so form and colour are integrated. The speckle occurs from clay that was laid down for thirty years. My work involves a paring down of content from an assimilation of previous work. The landscape and world we inhabit are in a constant state of change. When clay is fired you can create a lasting image, capturing a moment in time.

The LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize is open for entries until 30 October. Find out more and enter here.

Lead image: Courtesy LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize.