CO:LAB artists announced

Internationally acclaimed Canberra artists Cathy Franzi (ceramics), Alison Jackson (silversmith) and Dan Lorrimer (designer/sculptor) were selected from a strong field as the inaugural Craft ACT CO:LAB recipients, an innovative professional development program to develop new lighting and encourage collaboration between architecture, craft and design.

Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre is pleased to announce that Cathy Franzi and a combined team of Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer have been selected as the inaugural CO:LAB designers to develop their own lighting lines for homes.

As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, Craft ACT invited contemporary craft practitioners to apply for CO:LAB, a unique development opportunity to work with an architect and their clients to develop new lighting for a residential project in Canberra – a rare opportunity for an artist to learn about design collaboration in a real-life application

“CO:LAB encourages cross-disciplinary collaborations with architecture, craft and design, and supports creative industries.The program includes an exhibition, mentoring, sustainability advice, professional photography and an artist fee, and we were overwhelmed by the number of outstanding artists who wanted to be part of this exciting new professional development opportunity,” said Rachael Coghlan, CEO + Artistic Director, Craft ACT.

Craft ACT received a very high number of outstanding applications which were reviewed by an esteemed peer review panel of contemporary craft practitioners, demonstrating a real thirst for commercial opportunities for artists, and a genuine interest in collaboration with other design disciplines.

For Cathy Franzi, an acclaimed artist, the opportunity was an exciting prospect: “The incredible opportunity this project offers is to work with a team of architects, designers and clients to learn about the demands and possibilities of design collaboration. This will be a completely new prospect for me, enhancing my practice to extend into architectural design and importantly to receive professional mentoring to understand the design process.”

The challenges facing artists to make a living from their practice are very real, and artists Dan Lorrimer and Alison Jackson welcomed the opportunity to expand to new, commercial opportunities: “As two arts practitioners dedicated to the continued sustainability of our work as our sole income, this financially and professionally supported project will allow us to dedicate ourselves to the growth of our practice into new commercial areas,” said Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer.

The CO:LAB initiative is funded in full by the new Craft ACT Circle of Hands donor circle, a group of like-minded individuals who are committed to sustaining Australia’s high-quality studio practice. Members of the Craft ACT donors circle contribute $5000 each year to the project.  Members agree that for Australia to have a healthy visual arts ecosystem, it needs a sustainable craft sector and a thriving independent studio practice. The 2021 Craft ACT donor circle is: Jenny Edwards, environmental scientist, Light House Architecture & Science; Peta Furnell, craft supporter; Graham Humphries, acclaimed architect, Cox Architecture; Paul Kerr, respected builder, Preferred Builders.

The architecture practice selected for the pilot program is Canberra-based Light House Architecture and Science. The selected artists will work closely with architects and their clients to respond to the site and client needs and develop an understanding of the residential architecture design process.

If successful, the CO:LAB program will take place annually to support Canberra’s thriving craft and design community. As Cathy Franzi reflects about her home town: “I believe Canberra has an exciting arts culture where we are just at the start of an enduring celebration of its heritage, landscape and identity through the work of local contemporary visual arts practitioners. To be part of a team incorporating craft and design into homes built for a sustainable future is an exciting prospect.”

Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre is a not-for-profit membership based organisation which supports artists, craft practitioners, designers and makers at every stage of their careers. We promote and celebrate excellence and innovation in contemporary craft in everything we do – in our retail space, exhibitions, events and membership program. The new lighting and story of the CO:LAB design process will be shared in an exhibition during Craft ACT’s DESIGN Canberra festival in November 2021.

About the designers:

Cathy Franzi is engaged with ideas of nature and the environment, expressing the cultural values attributed to Australian plants, including scientific ones. Her interdisciplinary approach is informed by her first degree in science which was integral to her practice-led doctoral research in Ceramics at the ANU School of Art & Design. For over 25 years, Cathy has worked in numerous studios and potteries in Australia and overseas and taught ceramics at community and tertiary level.

Alison Jackson and Dan Lorrimer work together to create fine contemporary jewellery and tableware. Dan is a sculptor and designer whose work explores movement, energy, solidity and illusion through minimalist sculptural forms. Alison is a designer, maker and contemporary Silversmith with over a decade of artistic and technical metal forming expertise. By linking the rich history of metal-working to present-day artistic practices, Alison intertwines her fine hand-crafting skills with the experimental nature of design and metal forming.

About Circle of Hands:

Circle of Hands members support our vibrant community of contemporary jewellers, furniture-makers, ceramic and textiles artists, glassmakers and designers. Their engagement and donations help Craft ACT to forge new collaborations and residencies, invest in artist development and mentoring, and sustain Australia’s high-quality studio practice. Additional members of the Circle of Hands donor circle are welcome to ensure more artists, more audiences and more venues can be part of the CraftACT story for many more years.

Images:  Alison Jackson, Wagtail Scoops. Photo: Alison Jackson. Dan Lorrimer, Splinter Array 7. Photo: Alison Jackson. Cathy Franzi, Broad leaf drumsticks. Photo: Art Atelier.