Working with celebrated artists and craftspeople at London Craft Week

Students and academics from Plymouth University will work alongside iconic names from UK music and design to create two highly original, participatory events during London Craft Week.

They will get the chance to shadow master craftsmen from Steinway & Sons as they deconstruct and rebuild a grand piano, which will then feature in two exclusive live performances.

And they will team up with renowned artists Martin Smith, Nik Ramage and Jim Bond to build a site specific kinetic installation featuring elements of creative engineering, crafting and invention.

The two events, being coordinated through a partnership between Affinity at Plymouth University and Hole&Corner magazine, have been designed to transform preconceptions of making and craft and to showcase the skills and ingenuity of some of the finest makers in the UK.

Justin Bovington, Creative Industries Strategist with Plymouth University, said:

“From a Creative Industries perspective, this collaboration enables the University to be involved in a prominent national celebration of art and design. It also demonstrates the South West’s reputation as a centre of excellence at an internationally renowned event. Through the achievements of our students and the expertise of our academics, we are playing an integral role in showcasing the scale of talent in craft and design and, more importantly, bringing a fresh perspective culturally and creatively.”

Julia Jarvis-Knell, Contributing Editor at Hole&Corner, said:

“London Craft Week is another brilliant platform for us to work with Plymouth University to promote and celebrate the ingenuity that goes into making. It presents an opportunity to grow the importance of retaining this rich knowledge of craft and creativity in the UK and to cross fertilise established artists and craftspeople with the next generation of designer-makers.”

The first event, Marvellous Mechanica, is being hosted in the Grade I listed chapel at the not-for-profit members club House of St Barnabas in Soho from May 3-7. It will see students working alongside kinetic artists Martin Smith, Nik Ramage and Jim Bond to build an installation that takes inspiration from mechanised devices including marble runs, Newton’s cradles, trebuchets, catapults and loop-the-loops. These devices will be quirky, unusual objects that interest, delight or excite.

Meanwhile at Bargehouse on the South Bank, Piano Craft is a celebration of the past, present and future of the piano and sound and takes place on May 5 and 6. Students will have the rare opportunity to shadow the master piano makers from Steinway & Sons as they deconstruct, re-assemble and introduce the intricacies that go into handcrafting this iconic instrument. There will also be an exclusive live performance by Alexis Taylor, from the band Hot Chip, of his new solo album Piano on May 5 and on May 6 a recital by a Steinway concert pianist. In addition, there will be a series of presentations that explore the future of sound by Plymouth University academics Dr Alexis Kirke, Dr Mathew Emmett and Peter Quinn Davis.

Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to work alongside leading craftspeople in a unique and vibrant setting, giving them experiences which can fuel their own ambitions. It also gives our academics the chance to showcase their expertise to an international audience, further demonstrating our status as one of the leading art and design universities in the UK.”

London Craft Week, being staged this year from May 2-7, aims to showcase exceptional craftsmanship through a programme that features hidden workshops and unknown makers alongside celebrated masters, studios, galleries and shops.

The first event, staged in 2015, saw 20,000 visits to 70 events across the city, but this year’s programme will see around 130 events featuring luxury brands including CHANEL, Lalique, Carl Hansen & Son, Rolls Royce Motor Cars, LOEWE, Graham & Brown and Holland & Holland.

Affinity with Plymouth University

Affinity exists to nurture and deliver engagement and knowledge transfer between academia and the creative industries