The Protagonist Magazine

The Protagonist, March 2, 2023

At this year’s Collect Alice Kettle, represented by Candida Stevens Gallery, received the Brookfield Properties Craft Award 2023 in partnership with the Crafts Council. The gallery explains the following online about the textile artist: “Alice Kettle is internationally renowned for being a pioneer of her art form, with an application and process that makes her a unique creator and maker of art. Her work is regarded as boundary breaking and contemporary in its process, yet it also evokes a deep sense of the fundamental with its themes. Kettle depicts contemporary events and the experience of being in the world in her stitched tales. […] Kettle’s work contributes to a tradition of thread narrative in Britain, which began in the 11th century with the Bayeux tapestry, and with the histories of women who have long communicated their lives and experiences through textile work.” 


Choosing Kettle for the Brookfield Properties Craft Award 2023 is yet another unmissable statement of recognition of the importance of textile art not only in the art and craft dealers and collectors world. Kettle’s use of recycled textile and her creative transformation of this material into expressive pieces of art via layered stitches continues to impress. 


That seemingly “ordinary embroidery” at first sight can have a message for us is demonstrated at the fair. In case you have never seen Matt Smith’s “subversive embroideries” (or you would like to see one again) you can do so at Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Cecilia Charlton’s hand-embroidered wool yarn and acrylic paint on canvas over painted and gilded canvas “Wormhole Mosaic (Sweat of the Sun. Tears of the Moon)”, 2022, sized 176 x 170 cm calls our attention already when seen from the entrance of Candida Steven’s Gallery. Cecilia Charlton “creates hand-sewn embroideries that engage with the formal histories of abstraction to explore a broad range of themes including the cosmos, memory, and current events. […] her artworks achieve an optically challenging and playful approach, questioning the hierarchy between painting and textiles” – the gallery website tells us. 


The examples described here can serve as some “textile appetizers” only as they are a very small glimpse into what is to be seen at Collect 2023. The fair offers a wealth of ideas which materialised in ceramic, wood, glass, paper, lacquer and more, and for me most interestingly, in textiles. Several Collect Open stages add to this rich offer with special and innovative works. 

Collect 2023 can be seen until Sunday 5 March 2023, 6pm at Somerset House, London. 

Live on for all until 12 March 2023.