COLLECT is a trade fair for contemporary objects (craft and decorative sculpture). The world’s galleries and makers clamour to be part of this prestigious annual showcase, organised by the Crafts Council, and hosted at the Saatchi Gallery, on the Kings Road.
Walking up to the doors Saatchi gallery was an immediately odd experience; I’ve never been at any event that required quite so many bouncers and security people.
Through the doors and a very slick, well-staffed reception, ushered me into the first of nine large white-walled rooms. An aesthetic onslaught is probably the best way to describe the experience. There were beautiful objects everywhere, it was almost impossible to know where to start or where to let my eyes rest.
Quirkily dressed artists hold court amongst their entourages, interior designers negotiate hard to secure the focal piece for their latest project, and for many this is just another gap-filling stop in the social calendars.
We’ve been working on the publicity designs for the exhibition for a few months, so I’ve seen hundreds of images of the work on display but I was still shocked by the sheer scale and diversity on display. Objects that had seemed, from their photos, to be small, twee trinkets, turned out to be huge visual statements; other pieces that I’d assumed to be pottery turned out to be cast in bronze; almost every piece was more stunning than I’d expected. I was also pleasantly surprised by the large numbers of sculptural and figurative pieces, my stamina for looking at lovely pots and vases is fairly limited.
Like any trade fair, COLLECT is a series of booths, displaying the wares of different companies. Unlike other trade fairs, these booths aren’t patrolled by sweaty salesmen in cheap suits, they are curated by the elegant, aloof people that one only ever sees in private art galleries and exclusive clothes shops.
I wandered from the first room to the second, glancing occasionally at the prices of things. Quickly realising that nothing was within my range, I was free to think of this as a trip to a gallery or museum. I wasn’t troubled by the salespeople. It was, I suspect, obvious that I was a browser not a buyer.
I had a wonderful couple of hours, marvelling at the incredible levels of craft skills and artistic imagination on offer. It’s a world that I might occasionally nibble into but this was a chance to gorge on the visual feast.
Even if you have no real interest in the craft, COLLECT still has plenty to hold your attention. As a venue for people-watching, the show is second to none. Quirkily dressed artists hold court amongst their entourages, interior designers negotiate hard to secure the focal piece for their latest project, and for many this is just another gap-filling stop in the social calendars.
COLLECT will no doubt be back in 2015. I encourage you to go and visit; I’ll let you know when it is, if we’re lucky enough to work on the publicity materials again.