Close to Hand – Craft Scotland at Collect 2024

Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Iona Wolff

Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Iona Wolff

Craft Scotland returned to Collect, the leading international fair for contemporary craft and design, Wed 28 Feb - Sun 3 Mar 2024 with our ninth presentation. We were delighted to work with Susanna Beaumont as the curator for our presentation ‘Close to Hand’.  

'Close to Hand’ is an unabashed celebration of makers, materials and the vital tool that is the human hand - and its transformative power to charge a material with a new sense of being.    

For the past 15 years, Craft Scotland has showcased excellence in Scottish contemporary craft locally, nationally and internationally to support makers to flourish and cultivate audiences.   
If you missed the opportunity to visit Collect 2024 in person at Somerset House, you can still discover our Online Showcase. Explore the participating makers' works, read their interview series and 

Read on to learn more about Close to Hand with an essay by Susanna Beaumont.  


Close to Hand

Willow is reaped, harvested, stripped and woven. Seaweed is gathered, hung, dried and tied. Silver is quenched, raised, drawn, chased, annealed and burnished. Linen is stretched, printed, quilted and stitched. Enamel is mixed, applied and fired. Wood is hauled, seasoned, hammered, honed and scorched. Clay is thrown, coiled, turned. Paper is cut, pierced, threaded warp and weft. Rosehips are picked, dyes are made.  

And time and time again, hands move rhythmically, repeatedly. Hands exercised. Pushing, pulling, drawing, warming, wetting. A hand cajoles a wayward material to comply, to yield. A hand takes a paint brush across a page; a thumb and forefinger hold tight an incisor. Hands are cupped to steer, heavenwards, a tower of clay. Hands clasp a hammer, a chisel, a mallet. And tentative, sometimes anxious fingertips explore a material and its new form, feeling its readiness, its completeness, its finish.  

Close to Hand.  

Makers go hand in hand with their materials.  

Image: Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

Close to Hand is an unabashed celebration of makers, materials and the vital tool that is the makers’ hand. Presented by Craft Scotland at Collect 2024, it salutes the hand’s transformative power to fashion and charge a material with a new sense of being, to create the exceptional. 

Showcasing the work of 12 makers from across Scotland selected through a Craft Scotland open call, Close to Hand comprises jewellery, ceramics, sculpture and textiles by recent graduates and those with established practices. What unites them is a clear delight, fuelled by curiosity, to both challenge and collaborate with their chosen materials. Some brilliantly plunder a craft history stretching back centuries, delving deep into rich strata of time-honoured materials and making traditions, others are latter-day alchemists embracing the overlooked. They all craft the exceptional, melding fresh ideas from near and far with the innovative and the ancient with unwavering adventurous hands.  

Image: Susie Redman at Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

The Scottish landscape is tangible in the work of Iona Turner, Susie Redman, Richard Goldsworthy, Stefanie Ying Lin Cheong, Emma Louise Wilson and Heather McDermott. They often gather by hand materials that were once cleaved to its terrain. Iona Turner gathers seaweed from beaches, delighted by its plentifulness and a wish to use sustainably sourced material. Working with knotted wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) she creates extraordinary sculptural pieces that can be worn or hung, the wrack having turned a soft pistachio green on drying. While Susie Redman, whose studio overlooks the Firth of Forth, weaves vessel-like forms out of linen, cotton and paper. And they have a beguiling precarity, they lean, they curve. Yet each vessel is hefted, given ballast by slate from the Isle of Seil, a pebble or meshed with supportive lengths of stripped willow.  

Image: Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

Another gatherer is Richard Goldsworthy, whose studio in the Scottish Borders is set in a swathe of landscape where ancient trees are felled by ferocious winds. Spying a fallen beech or ash tree, Richard imagines its transformation. Back in the studio, he both simplifies and accentuates the raw wood through a process of fashioning, honing and charring to create totemic forms. And sometimes there are curls of metal. The scorched and blackened flank of a sycamore has been inscribed with pewter. Poured in its molten state, the curls suggest fragments of calligraphy.   

Scotland’s geology is integral to the work of Stefanie Ying Lin Cheong. She time travels from today’s Anthropocene to earth’s infancy through the gathering of stone and rock: a core sample dating back millions of years from deep beneath the North Sea, industrial-age shale from East Lothian to a ‘plasticglomerate’ from our current wasteful age. From this she fashions amulet-like discs to be worn as rings or brooches. They are geological deep time pieces but they also evidence more recent times. The constant evolution of the earth, human impact and our own transiency.  

Image: Stefanie Ying Lin Cheong at Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

If Stefanie’s raw material is the rock of ages, for silversmith Emma Louise Wilson it’s the restless waters of the North Sea and skies above that inspire her work. Her hand raised silver bowls – small enough to be cupped like a stone in the palm of a hand – have intensely beautiful enamel interiors. Informed by watercolours in which she records seascapes of shifting liquid light and moving skies, Emma applies up to five layers of enamel, each layer requiring a separate firing. She exquisitely both captures and echoes luminosity.   

A more westerly landscape and sea inspire the jewellery of Heather McDermott. Growing up on the Isle of Skye, it was the tangles of flotsam and jetsam tossed on to beaches that caught Heather’s eye. Her necklaces are interlocking entanglements of triangular and rectangular bends of silver, stainless steel and gold. The silhouette forms are layered, their lapping suggesting tides that ebb and flow or a tangle of nets. Whereas Heather’s brooches are quieter, stiller. More rock pools, they are flecked with freshwater pearls.  

Living landscapes perhaps give way to the realm of the imagined and reimagined, in the work of Katie Charleson, Jo McDonald, Jo Walker, Marianne Anderson, Andrew Lamb and Liu Qiwei. Space, depth, illusion and the decorative are recalled and explored. 

Pops of pastel pink and baby blue sing from the jewellery of Liu Qiwei. Exquisitely corrugated, miniature cupcake-like silver receptacles encase what appear to be stones. But look again, they are not. Rather Qiwei mixes enamel powder and ash from burnt animal bones to create these coloured mounds. It is a process that requires precision blending and firing that is timed to the second. It is an alchemy instigated by hands that measure, pulverise, blend and fire to create a constellation of colour.   

Image: Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

There’s an enthralling intensity to the work of Andrew Lamb. Meticulously constructed by hand from lengths of finely drawn wire in red, white and yellow golds and silver, Andrew’s brooches and necklaces suggest ‘weaved’ optical illusions on a Lilliputian scale. Vortexes of astounding delicacy and intricacy are created from lengths of wire which have been repeatedly drawn down through drawplates, a practice dating back to antiquity. Andrew can work with a length of wire that is up to 40 metres long. Slowly and methodically, he will lead the way. Twisting, flattening and circling the wire into beguiling, woven-like form: a relief of pattern, line in subtle hues of greys and golds and silver.  

Fellow jeweller, Marianne Anderson recalls memories of Venice to inform her jewelled brooches. Inspired by the architecture of this seemingly improbable city - its tier upon tier of Gothic arched windows, palazzos with flickering interiors that appear to tread water and quatrefoil stonework licked and softened by time - Marianne orchestrates silver and gold into forms suggestive of apertures and architectural forms. She succinctly adds jewelled colour, with red garnets and mother of pearl.  

Architectural forms are also the starting point for Jo Walker’s stoneware ceramics. Her five vertical structures are inspired by modernist piloti, stilt-like columns that elevate a building above its usual ground level. Each piloti is waisted with bands of coloured glazes in misty greens, blues and an occasional yellow. Further bands bear modernist-inspired geometric patterns of rhythmic sharp lines, full and half circles. This intricate mark making on curving forms, requires a steady hand. Holding a stylus, Jo removes the slip to reveal the stoneware beneath. It’s a technique called sgraffito, and takes its name from the Italian word, to scratch.  

Image: Craft Scotland Collect 2024 / Photography by Iona Wolff

Jo McDonald actively invites the viewer to touch her work. She welcomes curious fingertips. Her wall pieces are made from countless pages of books, books whose pages were once turned, touched and pored over. Now perhaps yellowed with age, Jo carefully cuts each page into pieces. Sentences are cut short; narratives are re-arranged as fragments of print are threaded to create lengths which are woven warp and weft or stitched and layered. There is an extraordinary emotional depth to the work. Stories, words and past lives are movingly reworked, are reincarnated.  

The hand is writ large in the work of Katie Charleson. Her textile quilted wall hangings are filled with expansive painterly gestures, brushstrokes and sweeps of colour. First painting and collaging onto A4 pieces on paper, Katie enlarges her composition and through a process of screen printing, her mark making is transferred in handmade dyes and colours on to large stretches of linen. The printed linen is then given volume and weight through quilting with Shetland wool wading. And then with needle in hand, Katie stitches. Up and down, left and right. She criss-crosses the linen landscape, leaving a near invisible trail of stitched thread.  

And time and time again, hands move rhythmically, repeatedly.  

Makers go hand in hand with their materials.  

Close to Hand.  



Susanna Beaumont is a curator, creative producer and writer. She has wide-ranging experience of working with designers, artists and makers to deliver site-specific commissions and exhibitions in Scotland and beyond. She is passionate about advocacy, reaching a wide audience and supporting adventurous ideas, traditional craft and the resolutely contemporary. In 2018 she founded Design Exhibition Scotland and is also currently working with Scottish Furniture Makers Association on the exhibition Ash Rise. 


Image: Susanna Beaumont / Photography by Neil Hanna

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