Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design has become the largest-selling exhibition of high-quality bespoke furniture in the country. This year, Paul Mayon reports for us
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Now in its 19th year, the Cheltenham Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design - CCD - has become a real highlight of the woodworking year. While the show is dominated by furniture, exhibition director Jason Heap has ensured exhibits that encompass box making, jewellery, metal sculpture and other disciplines are also present. This year, there were 74 exhibitors.
The CCD exhibition represents one of the largest collections of bespoke furniture and craft held at any one time in the UK. Newcomers such as Eleanor Lakelin, Marcus Mauger and Gareth Jones' Northern Ignorance studio were present alongside familiar names such as Matt Hill, Mark Tamcken and Erich Fichtner, and it is pleasing to see the consistently high standards shown. CCD has a number of regular awards including 'The Alan Peters Award for Excellence'. This year's winner was Thomas Whittingham's 'Whinlatter' table, which was reminiscent of Alan Peters' own work. Jan Waterston's Krenov-inspired split carcass cabinet was also highly commended. Jan exhibited really crisp and tight control throughout and the drawer pull details echoed Alan's own innovative exposed dovetail pin. The overall design award went to Cato Design's 'Elevata Shelves'.
Dominating the entrance of the show was 'Spitfire Table', a large sculptural piece by Huw Edwards-Jones. The huge rotating glass table, which was anchored on propeller blades, had been made from various parts of the nose of a Spitfire but, ironically, its ability to smoothly rotate was courtesy of a ball-race mechanism from a WWII German aircraft.
Star of the show
In terms of the work of the box makers, while the 'Best Use of British Timber' award went to Charles Thomson's desktop tambour box, for me the star was from Simon Jewell: a sumptuous tea caddy that combined masterful technique in solid wood, inlay, metal and ceramic. In the main furniture exhibition Irish makers were a real presence: Stephen O'Briain showed both exceptional technique, awareness of line and a real feel for making his chairs comfortable while Dunleavy Bespoke exhibited a truly elegant and uplifting side table. It is clear that CCD remains a window for some of the best work around and we look forward to seeing more of the same in 2014.