Review: The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds


Situated just underneath the left hand side of Leeds Art Gallery, you will find a quirky little space called The Craft Centre and Design Gallery. The small gallery presents a huge range of contemporary craft from over 300 designers; it holds everything from ceramics, to prints, jewellery, sculptures, home-ware, birdbaths, even temporary tattoos…

When you arrive and enter the space, it immediately strikes you as very contemporary in design, just like its craft. Spotless white walls, wooden flooring and bright lights, the perfect set up for exhibiting the work it does. The first showcase that grabs your attention is Isobel Cortese’s Victorian style terrariums, part of the “Another Life’ exhibition which is a vast selection of pieces made from recycled, and re-invented materials. On display are small everyday objects like teacups, salt-shakers, and compact mirrors. Cortese has covered the surfaces of these objects in moss, creating what she describes as ‘miniature worlds’, tiny models of people doing ordinary activities like; gardening, walking their dog or just sitting around. You have to really admire the originality of her work, and its small-scale makes it incredibly interesting to gaze at, as she captures everyday life in such an aesthetically eccentric way.

Isobel Cortese

Isobel Cortese

Moving along the gallery you notice a small platform displaying a series of table lamps made from laminated paper by designer Hannah Nunn. The lamps have intricate flower/plant designs cut into them, inspired by the natural characteristics of our world. The lamps project really warm, neutral lighting; a relaxing glow that provokes thought about how well these lamps would work to create a homely vibe. There are browsers full of prints, flicking through them uncovers work from a range of different artists such as Kay-Van Bellen, Finlay Mcinally, Anna Tosney and a great deal more. The work of Trevor Price is particularly enjoyable, a couple of his prints titled ‘Family of 3’ and ‘British Summer Time’, have a really bizarre, almost tribal feel to them. They are printed in black and white which only adds to making them very visually pleasing. The majority of prints seem to be rather abstract in design; there are a lot of sketchy-in-style drawings and paintings that fit in with the theme of contemporary art well.

On the topic of themes, there is masses of animal imagery in the gallery. In particular, a large amount of hares, foxes, and birds. At the back of the gallery, positioned on quite a nautical themed stand, there is a superb wooden Anglerfish sculpture by Jeff Soan, which stands on a plaque with the caption ‘life’s a beach and then you die’ carved into it. It seems to be a general curiosity for these monstrous sea creatures, coupled with the quirky quote that makes this piece stand out above the rest. Standing on a plaque of its own, Gin Durham’s ‘Hare With Gold Lustre’ also really shines with artistic prestige, a large hare sculpture which mixes stunning metallic blue and grey colours with a gold lustre finish, giving the whole piece an amazing glow, oozing luminous creativity. Also on display at the front of the gallery are two little haberdashery mice made from recycled textiles and embroidery, A wave of nostalgia washes over me as I remember the high-pitched mice from my favourite show as a child, Bagpus.

Bryony Rose

Bryony Rose

There really is something for everyone at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery; it
holds a wonderful selection of visually stimulating ornaments and purposeful objects that would be perfect to have around the house, especially if you’re looking to add a few touches of zany creativity. From vases, to out-there teapots, cups and wall panels as well as a multitude of cabinets that display some really astounding jewellery. Generally, the gallery is beautifully organized; the contemporary set up is bright and airy, showcasing the craft to its best potential. It’s greatly appreciated that they incorporate quotes from the artists, helping the viewer to get a thorough understanding of why they create what they do and how. It’s exciting to step into a gallery that isn’t just pictures on a wall, a few sculptures here and there, but to be met with such a diverse range in all art forms, and to leave feeling enthused.

For further information and to find out what’s on visit the website.

Images courtesy The Craft Centre and Design Gallery.