09 February 2011

Alchemical reaction

So yesterday, the word "alchemical" cropped up on Words & Fixtures and today, totally by accident, I learnt more about alchemy. Alchemy, so I'm told, is both a philosophy and an ancient practice that attempts to change base metals into gold.

Upcycling also converts worthless tut into wonderful trinkets, as mentioned in this post here, and earlier I swung by the Royal Exchange to see the Craft Shop's Upcycled exhibition.

Supported by the Crafts Council, the Royal Exchange Craft Shop commissioned students from the MA Design LAB at MMU's Manchester School of Art to transform defunct objects into objets d'art, and these are now on display (and for sale) in the voluminous lobby until Thursday 31 March.

I'm particularly taken by Lorraine Otoo's crocheted creations re-using metal and cotton (necklace pictured above) and Catherine Chester's reworking of old watch components and vintage photos into unique jewellery. Other jewellery includes Sharleen Marius' recycled steel pieces, and work by a number of established makers invited to complement that by the students - I've got my eye on the button brooches and earrings courtesy Lovely Pigeon; the fabric flower corsages by Lucy Smethurst, and Chain Of Daisies' vintage gem earrings and bird necklaces and bracelets (I can't stop buying things with bird motifs at the moment).

There are also plenty of homewares and tablewares. Bethan Jones offers up ceramics, while Hannah Lovett, Emily Jackson and Geoff Hall have all worked with recycled glass.

Geoff has also created a special display using recovered glassware, recycled scrap window panes and flameworked scientific glass tubing, and it's worth the trip for this alone. Called "The Alchemist", this three-tier exhibit makes full use of one of the three-sided cabinets near the bar, so each face reveals one of the three stages in the alchemical process: Nigredo, Albedo and Rubedo. The craftmanship, attention to detail and even historical link to the Royal Exchange demonstrated is amazing: go see!

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