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The craft&design Selected Awards 2014 - Specialist Judges

craft&design Selected Awards

Matthew & Louise Dwyer
Matthew & Louise Dwyer
Wood & Metal Category

Matthew & Louise Dwyer

Saltbox Gallery was established in 2006 by Matthew and Louise Dwyer in the popular market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire. Matthew is an Artist Blacksmith and Louise is a Jeweller - together they choose and showcase the best handmade fine art and craft to exhibit in their beautiful gallery and courtyard garden.

Matthew's blacksmithing career began with casual visits to the forge situated in Helmsley town centre. “After having 'a go' I decided to pursue formal training and spent the next year doing a basic blacksmithing course at Hereford College of Technology. After this initial training I was offered a position working and improving my skill base under Master Blacksmith Chris Topp & Co.

“Over the next 15 years I became Chris Topp's workshop manager and oversaw the work carried out on many prestigious restoration and newly forged projects. Whilst working for Chris, one was guaranteed a wonderful backdrop, Chatsworth House, The Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace were particularly wonderful projects to be involved with and we learnt a great deal whilst restoring their ironwork.”

 It was during this time that Matthew became a Master Blacksmith in his own right. In 2007 he was awarded a Bronze Medal by The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in recognition of his high levelof skills as a blacksmith. In 2010 Matthew set up his own workshop and through Saltbox Gallery has created a portfolio of work designed and made by him for many clients.

Louise and Matthew Dwyers's work is forged together in an inextricable way. During her childhood Louise was always busy making and  painting, growing up in this beautiful part  of  North Yorkshire has had a strong influence on her.  Often left to create things to pass the time of day, as both parents ran a small hotel in Hovingham, Louise was entertained in her world of creativity, and her first exhibition of painting was in the family hotel when only 13 years old where she sold several small water colour paintings.
 Louise took her degree in Art and Design,  at St John's University specialising in jewellery. After gaining her degree she began working at The Robert Feather gallery in York where she was assistant to Robert in his jewellery workshop .

“As both designers and makers ourselves, we feel that if an artist is putting forward a piece or pieces of their work with a view to collecting an award, then the work must have a certain wow factor! A body of work needs to be cohesive and feel like it belongs to a collection of pieces, showing a train of thought and a design process running through the collection. We'll be looking for work that is well made and shows a good degree of competence and the comfortable skill of the maker. As gallery owners we would like to see how the artist /makers present both themselves and their work to the world and what a prospective client's experience would be like working alongside the makers.”

Judge’s Statement

Gold: Richard Kennedy
Judges' statement: Louise and I feel Richard Kennedy's work to be a deserved winner in this category. Our first impression on seeing Richard's work was one of an artisan totally at ease with his art, creativity and his chosen media. He takes a simple and utilitarian shape and creates very beautiful object d'art.
One can see that he knows his materials inside out and through this knowledge he can take the wood to its limits in order to impose his absolutely beautiful repeat pattern designs onto the pieces. The finished work occupies a space where the air and light come to pay homage to his art.
We are impressed by the fact that Richard is a self taught artist who no doubt will have had many trials and errors along the way in order to achieve the level of competence that expresses itself through his work today. He is accomplished at showing his work to its best advantage, realising photography and display of an artist's work is a very important factor for all craftspeople to appreciate.

Silver: Lee Sinclair
Judges' statement: Lee Sinclair designs and makes a range of fantastic pieces of furniture. We love the way that he can create and design a range of work from beautiful simple to beautiful sublime. Lee's furniture invites you to use it, I want to sit at one of his tables, play my saxophone at his music stand and feel the super clean lines and silky finishes which look like a trademark of his work.
Lee Sinclair's work looks crafted and well produced. We like the fact that as well as being comfortable with traditional manufacturing techniques, he is also looking at new technologies to incorporate into the design and making process.
We are also very impressed with how Lee portrays his work in the market place. His website is clear and succinct and also very informative and easy to use with a great library of past and current work. We are particularly impressed with the information available to potential customers who would like to commission his work.

Silver: Jeff Soan
Judges' statement: We love Jeff's interpretations of the animals and creatures that he gives life to through a transformed shaping of the wood into a part solid sculpted form and part living sculpture, which gives pleasure to look at and has great presence. He is obviously very skilled with the tools that he uses to make his creations, but there is more than that to his work! Look closely and you will see the life and strength of the animals imbued in the face of each piece, their textured surfaces and attractive construction to each creature depicted.
To my mind it takes a particular skill and knowledge of one's subject and the materials at hand to impart and convey such feelings in a piece of fine craft such as Jeff does with ease.


Graham Anderton
Judges' statement: We like Graham's work and feel that it contains a nice element of fun and a very imaginative use of old bicycle components and pieces. The Kingfisher is a particularly good example, using the materials to express a form with a special degree of accomplishment, design and skill.
Each of his pieces are showing his desire to be adventurous and try new ideas. We are interested to see which area of his designs become most successful. We would suggest to Graham that portraying his work in a more positive way through composing his photographs out of the workshop environment would greatly enhance their presence.

Sian Elizabeth Evans
Judges' statement: The pieces of work by this craftsperson reflect a desire to follow her craft and the use of traditional skills of the coppersmiths are very notable and a pleasure to see. We are sure that the pieces are more impressive when you have a tactile interaction with the smooth surfaces and feel the solid material in your hands.
Sian's copper work shows off the design of added detail such as the "bee and acanthus bowl" very well and we like the way this is interpreted using the form of the foliage to interact with the edge of the bowl form to create an attractive and interesting decorative design. We imagine from reading about Sian's previous commissions and background that she has invested a lot of time and consideration into each piece of work that she crafts and, as a jeweller and a blacksmith, we can appreciate the careful and thoughtful use of her skills base.

Tim Hawkins
Judges' statement: As the judges of this work we are interest in how it is constructed and completed in function and form as well as the design and artistic elements. We understand that Tim uses solid wood and his furniture shows all of the characteristics of strength and integrity and these elements are obviously of great importance to him as a maker. As he has described in his own comments about the making of his pieces of furniture, he has gone his own way and used his skill as a maker to depict in each item exactly what he believes is important. Tim's work can be described as art and craft and there is a great deal of skill and accomplishment within each piece, which is always a pleasure to see.

2014 Judges »
Craft in Focus - Contemporary Craft & Design Fairs

craft&design Best Newcomer Award at BCTF

Congratulations to Charlotte Wilkinson! We'll tell you more about Charlotte and her spectacular glass in our May issue of craft&design Online!

craft&design Highly Commended Newcomer Award at BCTF


We were delighted to present our Highly Commended Newcomer Award to Rouaida Boullier ROUAIDA.COM for her highly original range of jewellery. Find out more in our May issue of craft&design Online!

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After very many years of craft&design we've decided that we'd like to retire and so in 60 days we will close the craft&design website, including craft&design Online and the craft&design Selected Makers and Craft and Design Month websites. We've had a brilliant 35 years and would like to thank all our readers, advertisers, writers, contributors and website visitors for their support throughout that time. Our very best wishes to you all for the future - Angie and Paul.