LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced

18 Feb 2019

We are delighted to announce that five gallery artists have been shortlisted for the LOEWE Craft Prize 2019: Akiko Hirai, Koichi Io, Harry Morgan, Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley, and Andrea Walsh.

The LOEWE Craft Prize seeks to acknowledge and support international artisans who demonstrate an exceptional ability to create objects of superior aesthetic value. By identifying work that reinterprets existing knowledge to make it relevant today while reflecting its maker’s personal language and distinct hand, the LOEWE Foundation aims to highlight the continuing contribution of craft to the culture of our time.

Work from the 29 finalists will be exhibited at Isamu Noguchi´s indoor stone garden Heaven at the Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo, Japan, from 26 June to 22 July 2019, where the overall winner will be announced.

akiko hirai

Akiko Hirai was born in Japan in 1970. She moved to London in 1999, studying ceramics at the University of Westminster and Central St. Martins. Akiko’s work is both a blend of Japanese and British studio pottery traditions resulting in asymmetrical, ‘imperfect’ organic forms. This March, Akiko Hirai presents Under The Cherry Tree - a new body of work on display in The Gallery including her signature Moon Jars featuring cherry tree wood ash and landscape inclusions.

LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Akiko Hirai, 'Eclipse Night', Large Moon Jar, 2019 stoneware with landscape inclusions, H65 x W65 cm

The work I have created for Under The Cherry Tree was inspired by my memories of Spring in Japan. At home we celebrate the blossoming cherry trees as the pale pink petals float in the air. This period also heralds school graduation and farewells. I used to love this seasonal feeling of melancholy. Winter cherry trees in London are a lot smaller than the Japanese Somei-Yoshino. One night as I returned home from my London studio, I saw the winter cherry trees blossoming under the street light and behind it was the round, white moon. This inspired me to create a cherry tree ash glaze in a beautiful, light peppermint green.

Akiko Hirai, 2019​
LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Akiko Hirai, 'Eclipse Night', Large Moon Jar (detail), 2019 stoneware with landscape inclusions, H65 x W65 cm

Koichi Io

Japanese metalsmith Koichi Io's award-winning metalwork demonstrates traditional hand raising and chasing techniques; resulting in elegant and fluid metal vessels that showcase his incredible talent for metalworking. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Koichi Io studied metalwork at Musashino Art University before completing his Masters at Seoul National University, College of Fine Art in 2012.

LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Koichi Io, Whirl Vase, 2016, patinated copper, hammer raised, H15.5 x W14 x D14cm

Harry Morgan

Harry Morgan’s work inverts the rules of gravity and explores the conflicting relationship between concrete and glass. Referencing the brutality of architecture and the craft of Venetian glass making, a dense mass of concrete sits on top of a block of individual glass filaments. His works establish a powerful relationship between the two contrasting materials as they merge to become one form.

LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Harry Morgan, Dichotomy Study 1, 2018, glass and concrete, H35 x W15 x D15cm

Despite being composed of the same elements, glass and concrete appear as conflicting materials. With unclear borders and internal dimension, glass reflects ambiguity and intangibility. In sharp contrast, concrete is brutally physical; the word itself is used to describe absolutes and certainties. Both materials have strong social, cultural and polarised connotations; from the sumptuous history of Venetian glass to the Utopian concrete of post-war Brutalism. The use of glass in my work draws inspiration from the ancient Venetian glassblowing technique, murrine; where each rod or thread of glass is individually pulled by hand from a furnace. The glass is then arranged into a sequential structure and cast within concrete or precious metal, which binds them as one object. I’m interested in applying these traditional skills in alternative directions.

Harry Morgan, 2017
LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Harry Morgan, Dichotomy Study 1 (detail), 2018, glass and concrete, H35 x W15 x D15cm

Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley

Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley are pioneers of modern British furniture and have been associated with The Scottish Gallery since the early 1990’s. They both live and work together in Oswestry, in Shropshire near the Welsh border.

Jim Partridge studied at John Makepeace’s Parnham House School for Craftsmen in Wood in the 1970s, whilst Liz Walmsley’s first professional life in the crafts was in the world of ceramics. Since 1986 the couple have worked together designing and making furniture.Their partnership has worked successfully on many architectural projects and environmental commissions. Their studio furniture, much of which is carved from blocks of green oak, often scorched and polished to a lustrous black finish, is in public collections across the world. Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley will have work featured in our forthcoming Wood exhibition in April 2019.

LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley, Block Stool, 2017, scorched oak, H38 x W85 x D33cm

Our intention is to make work with a strong but quiet presence in the landscape.

Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley, 2016
LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley, Block Stool (detail), 2017, scorched oak, H38 x W85 x D33cm

Andrea Walsh

Andrea lives and works in Edinburgh and set up her studio in 2005 following the completion of a degree in fine art, and postgraduate study in glass, at Edinburgh College of Art. She has since received invaluable support from the Crafts Council (UK) and Creative Scotland, enabling the continued creative development of her practice that pushes the boundaries of her chosen materials – ceramics and glass. Her work has been shortlisted for the British Ceramics Biennial Award on three occasions, purchased for major public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and National Museums Scotland, and in 2017 was one of twelve finalists in the BBC Radio 4/ V&A/ Crafts Council ‘Woman’s Hour Craft Prize’.

LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Andrea Walsh, Small Round Box, 2017, frit glass and black fine bone china, 22ct burnished gold exterior, H3.5 x W7cm, photo: Shannon Tofts

My work is an exploration of the box and vessel form, through which I am interested in ideas of containment, materiality, preciousness and value. Working with glass in combination with fine bone china, I seek to celebrate their shared material qualities including purity and translucency and am influenced by their alchemic nature and rich historical associations. Intimate in scale, the work embraces tactile investigation due to it’s form, size and proportion and evokes a response akin to jewellery, eliciting the desire to hold and to cherish.

Andrea Walsh, 2018
LOEWE Craft Prize Finalists Announced
Image: Andrea Walsh, Collection of Tiny Faceted Boxes, 2017, H3 x W4.5cm, photo: Shannon Tofts

Read more about the LOEWE Craft Prize 2019 here.

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