History in the Making: stories of materials and makers, 2000 BC – Now

Compton Verney, Warwickshire CV35 9HZ
21 October 2023 – 11 February 2024


“Throughout human history, materials have been fashioned by skilled people into objects of beauty and utility. Wood, clay, stone, metal, textile and organic materials – these are the starting point of History in the Making, bringing together a treasure-trove of unique and fascinating objects.

From a monumental mid-17th century Mortlake tapestry, woven to a design by the great Italian Renaissance artist Raphael – on loan from Woburn Abbey for the first time – to expressive hand-painted silks by award-winning artist and designer Christian Ovonlen. Or precious 18th century silverware made by French Huguenot migrants, to highly personal glazed ceramic vessels by rising-star ceramic artist Shawanda Corbett. As well as recent creations by makers who are at the forefront of developing new materials and processes, from living textiles made from plant roots to 3D printed vessels made from recycled coffee cups.

History in the Making brings together outstanding examples of historic craft from the collection of Woburn Abbey, with recent creations by some of the most exciting makers working today from the collection of the Crafts Council. By presenting the historic and contemporary side-by-side the exhibition exploree changing attitudes towards materials over time, the importance of craft traditions for communities and the environmental impact of it. The exhibition also explores how scientific advances and innovative approaches to existing materials can offer more sustainable and planet-friendly methods of making.”

Exhibiting Craft Kills, 2002, machine knitted wool, knitting needles
2000 × 680 × 380 mm
In the collection of the Crafts Council, London


Installation photography: Jamie Woodley

06 February 2024

If Not Now, When? Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain, 1960 – 2022

The Hepworth Wakefield
Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 5AW
31 March 2023 – 15 October 2023
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY
15 November 2023 – 22 January 2024

bad mother

This exhibition presents the outcomes of a significant research project, Hepworth’s Progeny, hosted by The Hepworth Wakefield (2021-23) in collaboration with art historian Griselda Pollock and sculptor Lorna Green. The project generated a survey of women across Britain working in sculpture today and a comparative study with the stories of women who responded to a parallel survey issued by Lorna Green in 1988.

If Not Now, When? Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain, 1960 – 2022 will invite audiences to consider issues of gender and time in order to suggest new narratives about sculpture by women in Britain during this period, looking at lives, work and social change. Selected from the nearly 320 artists who responded to the 1988 and 2022 surveys, the exhibition will present work by Phyllida Barlow, Glenys Barton, Helen Chadwick, Kim Lim, Veronica Ryan and Shelagh Wakeley, among many others.

Exhibiting Bad Mother, 2013, machine knitted wool and mixed media on maple wood shelf, 780 × 160 × 160 mm. On loan from Private Collection.

Photography: Douglas Atfield

10 October 2023

I Put a Spell on You - New Magic and Mysticism

Art Exchange, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ
5 October – 17 November 2023

Alice and Cecil


I Put a Spell on You explores today’s growing affinity with magic, which coincides with a time when we’re experiencing a profound loss of faith in modern society. Rationalism, science and the ‘progress’ of the modern era have left us lurching from one crisis to the next, while climate catastrophe calls into question our relationship with planet Earth. Against this backdrop, magic offers us an alternative universe – a space where we can become re-enchanted with the world again.

The artists in this show embrace magic, myth and mysticism as they explore alternative ways of thinking and being. They are guided by the historic figure of the witch – always close at hand in Essex where hundreds stood accused.”

I Put a Spell on You includes work by Alice Bucknell, Juno Calypso, Leonora Carrington, Chiara Fumai, Serena Korda, Akinsola Lawanson, susan pui san lok, Freddie Robins and Tai Shani.

Curated by Jess Twyman
Photography: Douglas Atfield


Read gallery guide

06 October 2023

Royal College of Art - Material Engagements Research Cluster (MERC)

The cluster’s members all come from programmes in the School of Arts & Humanities at the Royal College of Art. Associate members are either staff based in other RCA Schools or project team members or partners from current or past research projects run through the School of Arts & Humanities. All members and associate members of Material Engagements are interested in undertaking research on, with, about, or through materials. The Material Engagements Research Cluster also partners with other organisations and associations at a group level where there is a strong overlap of research interests.

The Material Engagements research cluster focuses on six broad areas of research. Applying practice-led as well as theoretical approaches, our research examines diverse forms of material culture, investigating their cultural, social and political narratives of materials and materiality. Emphasis is placed on critiquing embedded ways of thinking, including the urgent need to respond to sustainable, ethical and ecological issues in the shadow of the contemporary climate crisis; exploring the realms of experience across the material, immaterial and the virtual; unpicking the relationships and interactions between people and things, and more widely experimenting, understanding and gaining new insights into the material world. Through global and local projects the cluster seeks to gain a better understanding of materials and the processes of making/production and the issues associated with everyday social engagement and life, by employing poetic, creative, tacit and embodied ways of expressing new forms of knowledge alongside established humanities and social science research methodologies.

  • Material Properties: aesthetic; social; cultural; technical; scientific; economic.
  • Working with Materials: manual techniques; tool use; embodied practice; tacit knowledge; traditional crafts; material trades; conservation practices; industrial manufacturing; technological innovation; digital making.
  • Learning with Materials: teaching about and through materials; material experimentation; apprenticeships; local knowledge; biomimicry; experimental archaeology; assembling, archiving and using material collections; materials libraries.
  • Material-Focused Environments: specialist material workshops; creative studios; factories; makerspaces; sheds; laboratories; mines, Marshallian clusters.
  • Material Systems: supply chains; extracting; mining; drilling; harvesting; gathering; preparing; refining; distilling; purifying; supplying; trading; brokering; waste; reuse; recycling; upcycling; sustainability; circular economy; ethical sourcing; localism.
  • Material Taxonomies: material classifications, groupings and hierarchies; material standards; materials analysis and testing; material provenance and certification; dangerous materials; prohibited materials; substitute and imitation materials.

For more information about the RCA Material Engagements Research Cluster

06 October 2023

...proliferating materialities...

Gallery Season (SZN), 92 Brick Lane, London E1
13 – 16 July 2023

proliferating materialities

…proliferating materialities… is an exhibition bringing together researchers from the royal college of art under the banner of the material engagement… in an exhibition which evidences various approaches to material (whatever this means) informed research… through artworks… text… and… moving image… the exhibition explores the various ways artists andresearchers apply practice-led and theoretical approaches… artworks employ poetic… creative… tacit… and… embodied ways of expressing new forms of knowledge…considering the fluid traversal of knowledge between making… and… thinking…

Exhibitors include:
Felicity Aylieff, Jonathan Boyd, Heike Brachlow, Steve Brown, Annie Cattrell, Sarah Cheang, Johnny Golding, Rebecca de Quin, Celia Dowson, Peter Oakley, Mah Rana, Freddie Robins, Michael Rowe, Katie Spragg, Jo Stockham, Katharina Vones, Max Warren, RCA Material Engagements PhD Group.

proliferating materialities detail

Freddie Robins’ new work funded by a-n Artists Bursaries 2021: Time Space Money

05 October 2023

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