Creative county on show in Aldeburgh

Furniture maker Peter Owen

Furniture maker Peter Owen

Suffolk Craft Society is once again setting up its shop window at Aldeburgh’s Peter Pears Gallery. Andrew Clarke takes a look at the work of the society

Furniture maker Peter Owen
Some of the pieces produced by Peter.

Furniture maker Peter Owen Some of the pieces produced by Peter.

One of the creative highlights of summer is the Suffolk Craft Society’s annual exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery, off Aldeburgh High Street.

The modest exhibition space becomes a work of art in itself as designer Annabel Ridley creates an Aladdin’s cave of wonders laying out hundreds of items, seemingly defying the laws of physics, to display everything to its best advantage.

The exhibition takes in large items like tables and chairs to smaller, delicate pieces of jewellery, artwork, textiles, quirky sculpture created from found objects to some striking ceramics.

Space is created by engineering little room-like tableaus where a number of objects can be displayed in a naturalistic setting rather being displayed in a glass case or on shelves. This makes the items live and seem part of the world rather then being viewed as an expensive piece of art to be locked away. This is art you can use.

Sheila Macdonald, Suffolk Craft Society enamelist

Sheila Macdonald, Suffolk Craft Society enamelist - Credit: Archant

The one thing that draws all these disparate items together is the fact that they have been created with skill and invention. The quality of Suffolk craftwork has been the cornerstone of the society for the past 40 years.

Sally Freer, vice-chair, of the society said: “The Society not only acts as an agent on behalf of its makers, it provides a way to create a reputation for excellence for Suffolk’s craft makers.

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“Its founding principles have always been concerned with providing support for its members and nurturing quality and creativity. To promote good design and fine workmanship and to provide a shop window for the stunning and inventive work that is created in the county.”

She said part of their remit was to recruit new craftspeople and to help educate and train young members as well as share skills between existing members. Training days and workshops help to pass on new techniques and different ways of working.

An important part of their work is promoting the world of Suffolk crafts and pointing out that every object is unique and can be made to order.

In addition to the Society’s base at Gallery 2 in Ipswich Town Hall, the Aldeburgh Summer Exhibition provides an important opportunity to demonstrate the variety and the inventiveness of the work created by Suffolk craftspeople. “If you are buying something from a member of the Suffolk Craft Society then you would expect the work to be of the very highest quality.” The society has 150 members all of whom have been interviewed by their peers and had their work assessed in order to gain admittance.

Sally said this year they had decided not to go with a theme to the exhibition but instead celebrate the diversity of what their members had to offer. “This is our 44th summer exhibition and we wanted to give the public a real opportunity to sample the quality and variety of our work – many pieces having been made specifically for this exhibition. There are handmade bags, brooches, cards and unframed prints from just a few pounds, to larger sums for unique furniture, framed prints and precious jewellery. It’s all here and Annabel works wonders not only getting it all in but also make the space look attractive, light and breezy.”

The 44th Suffolk Craft Society Summer Exhibition runs until August 24