“The level is crazy this year,” remarked Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson, speaking recently to Wallpaper* about the quality of applicants for the brand’s 2018 Craft Prize. Launched in 2016 ‘to showcase and celebrate excellence, artistic merit and newness in modern craftsmanship’, this year’s 30 finalists have been chosen from across the globe, and show innovation and expertise in working with materials ranging from textile and paper to ceramics and metal.
Selected by a panel of experts from almost 1,900 submissions, the finalists, who range in age from 27 to 76, represent a broad array of crafts and more than 80 countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Singapore, Chile, the US, Poland and the UK. The diverse spectrum of works submitted covers a variety of techniques, media and modes of expression, and the finalists range from recently graduated and newly emerging artists to well-known names. They include Japanese artist Arko, who created a wall hanging from bunched rice straw, France’s Simone Pheulpin, who made a sculptural piece crafted from layering cotton strips reclaimed from car tires, and Joe Hogan, whose wicker baskets woven around a central core of reclaimed fallen wood helped first inspire Anderson to create the prize.
The judging panel, which included the Loewe creative director and last year’s winner the German wood sculptor Ernst Gamperl, convened in Madrid for two days to review all the works presented and select the most outstanding for the shortlist based upon technical accomplishment, innovation and artistic vision. “This year the judging was harder than prior years, with the standard of applicants impressively high across every category,” said Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, Executive Secretary of the Loewe Craft Prize Experts Panel. “Our chosen works reflect an almost alchemical manipulation of each medium’s possibilities and reward those who have mastered traditional skills in order to transform them for the contemporary age. The selected finalists are a multigenerational snapshot of the utmost excellence in craft today.”
The winner is set to receive 50,000EUR, but, said Anderson, “The whole point of this is support, it’s not just only about money.” He himself commissioned Anne Low, one of last year’s finalists, to design an installation for his J.W. Anderson runway show at the Pitti Uomo trade fair and another collaboration with Low, this time for Loewe, is due to be unveiled later this year. Anderson has also worked regularly with Sarah Flynn, also a first year finalist, on projects including an exhibition at the Loewe store during Art Basel Miami Beach, and The Loewe Foundation has acquired works by Ernst Gamperl.
The 2018 finalists will have their work showcased at a free exhibition at London’s Design Museum between 4th May and 17 June 2018, with the winner being unveiled the night before the official opening.