Bonhoga Gallery to host 'New Artistans' book launch on 7 Dec

by Deborah Leggate -

A new publication and directory of over 70 international designers and artists, profiling Whalsay textile designers Andrea Williamson and Jen Deschênes, will be launched at Bonhoga Gallery in December.

During this year's Christmas exhibition at Bonhoga Gallery, Shetland Arts will launch a new publication by Thames & Hudson – “The New Artisans - handmade designs for contemporary living"". The book, by international design expert and acclaimed style blogger Olivier Dupon, profiles Whalsay born textile designers Andrea Williamson and Jen Deschênes, along with over seventy other selected artists and designers. The launch starts at 6.30pm and is free to attend.

The beautifully illustrated book captures the new global preference for a return to the unique and the handmade, and includes a directory of hundreds of the "new artisans" products, recommended shops, websites and blogs.

The seventy five new artisans carefully sourced by Olivier Dupon are described as the cream of the contemporary design world, from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Ukraine and USA.

Both Shetland designers attended Whalsay School and the Anderson High School in Lerwick. Andrea Williamson's degree, after a year at Shetland College, was a BA (Hons) in Fashion Textiles from the University of Brighton, followed by placements in design studios in London and Italy. She returned to Shetland in 2006 to set up her studio in Whalsay and produce her collections of bright knitted accessories and interior pieces. Andrea will attend the launch and book signing at Bonhoga Gallery.

Andrea said: "I'm delighted to have been included in The New Artisans alongside so many talented people from such a range of disciplines and different countries. It was really exciting to receive a copy of the finished book in the post, turning the pages is like an inspiring journey and I'm pleased two Shetland lasses are part of it."

Jen Deschênes studied screen-printed and embroidered textiles at Glasgow School of Art and mixed-media textiles at the Royal College of Art in London, before moving to the Scottish Highlands where she established her practice in print and embroidery.

Jen said: “I'm very proud to have been chosen to be part of 'The New Artisans'. The book is beautiful and full of inspiring artisans from all over the world. I'm really pleased the launch will be in Shetland and think it is fantastic that two Shetlanders, both from Whalsay should be involved.”

Hazel Hughson of Shetland Arts said: “Jen and Andrea work in dissimilar techniques, but share an imaginative and artistic approach to textiles and continue the Shetland tradition of placing textiles in an international arena. Shetland Arts congratulates them both on being selected with ten other UK artisans and hope their achievement will inspire other Shetland based designers and craft makers.”

Olivier Dupon commented: “While importing independent designers' creations for my own shop, Lola et Moi in Sydney, Australia, I could experience first hand the resurgence for craft and customers' craving for anything unique and hand-made. Once I closed the shop, I thought about how I could pursue my passion for scouting and promoting talented makers. Highlighting these 'artisans' in a book appeared to be the best venue as a paper volume as such is a perfect match for a project about Craft.”

“It is an invitation to get inspired or ultimately be directed to a designer for a purchase. It attempts to cover as many techniques and base materials as possible, feature as many countries of origin as possible, and introduce a wide range of creative styles - from the functional via decorative to purely artistic objects. It is a labor of love and a tribute to all the talented makers who strive to make our world a more beautiful and meaningful place to live in.”

Shetland Arts supports the development of contemporary craft made in Shetland at all levels. The support is provided through projects for the creative and professional development of individual craftmakers; exhibition of craft at Bonhoga Gallery; by mentoring individuals and groups, or awarding small grants to full-time and part-time craftmakers through the Craftmaker Awards Scheme – Working Up; in partnership with Creative Scotland and Shetland Islands Council.