Unto This Last

20 May to 25 July 2010

With work by Thomas Bayrle, Sarah Browne, Andrea Büttner, Alice Channer, Isabelle Cornaro, Dewar & Gicquel, Pernille Kapper Williams and Běla Kolářová

‘Unto This Last’ takes its cue from John Ruskin’s eponymous book to consider the complicated relationships between contemporary art and craft. 

Written in 1860 as a manifesto against the prevailing economic theories of the mid-19th century, Unto This Last summons a series of moral arguments to denounce what its author perceived as the devastating social consequences of capitalism. Ruskin’s writings on economy and art inspired the Arts and Crafts movement, which advocated the primacy of handcraft and opposed the division of labour that lay at the heart of the capitalist model. A few decades later the very notion of craft would be widely seen as adverse to the imperatives of modernity and its definition of art, a misconception which has to some extent subsisted to this day.

The exhibition suggests that a number of contemporary artists simultaneously abide by the codes of conceptual practice – autonomy, dematerialisation, abstraction and lack of skills, among others – and to various degrees draw on the critical potential of craft. By introducing supposedly anti-conceptual notions such as artisanship, skill, or emotion, craft effectively provides them with an opportunity to take an unconventional and enlightening look at a variety of personal and collective concerns.

An essay by Glenn Adamson, author of Thinking Through Craft and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum will accompany the exhibition, which has been curated by Alice Motard in collaboration with Alex Sainsbury.

Under the term ‘skill’ I mean to include the united force of experience, intellect, and passion, in their operation on manual labour: and under the term ‘passion’ to include the entire range and agency of the moral feelings; from the simple patience and gentleness of mind […] up to the qualities of character which renders science possible […] and to the incommunicable emotion and imagination which are the first and mightiest sources of all value in art. 
– 
John Ruskin, Unto This Last, 1860

Exhibition view
From left to right: Thomas Bayrle, Alice Channer,
Běla Kolářová
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view

From left to right: Běla Kolářová, Alice Channer, Dewar & Gicquel

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Běla Kolářová

Dishes Cycle, 1966

Assemblage, miscellaneous items on glass
and mirror sheets, Bakelite drying racks
Private collection
Courtesy the artist

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Andrea Büttner
Tears, 2010
Vogelpredigt [Preaching to the birds], 2010
Pebble, 2010
Woodcuts
Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view
From left to right: Dewar & Gicquel, Isabelle Cornaro
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view
Foreground and background: Dewar & Gicquel, Isabelle Cornaro
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view

From left to right:

Pernille Kapper Williams, Dewar & Gicquel, Isabelle Cornaro

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Sarah Browne
How to Make Muscha in Vaasa, 2010
Aluminium milk churn, copper piping, rubber tubing, glass condenser, thermometer, glass bottle of distillate, printed text, wooden crate/plinth

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Alice Channer

All Change, 2010

Marble: machined, hand-carved and polished

Silk Cut, 2010
Cast aluminium, black and mauve elastics, marble, hook

Le Smoking, 2010
Cast aluminium, black and orange elastics, marble, hook 

Courtesy the artist and The Approach, London

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view
From left to right: Alice Channer, Andrea Büttner
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Andrea Büttner

Clay Sculpture, 2008/10

30 x 390 x 30 cm

Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Exhibition view

From left to right: Alice Channer, Pernille Kapper Williams

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Pernille Kapper Williams
Untitled (Knob #1), 2009
Solid brass
Courtesy the artist

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Isabelle Cornaro
'Homonymes’, 2010
Plaster; 3 from a series of 4
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Balice Hertling, Paris
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Andrea Büttner
Braunes Grid, 2007
Reverse glass painting
Collection of Valeria and Gregorio Napoleone

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Exhibition view

Works by Běla Kolářová

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Alice Channer
Inhale, 2010
Powder-coated cast aluminium; 2 parts
Courtesy the artist and The Approach, London
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view

From left to right: Dewar & Gicquel, Běla Kolářová

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view
From left to right: Běla Kolářová, Dewar & Gicquel, Pernille Kapper Williams
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Sarah Browne
‘Common Knowledge’, 2007–10 (ongoing)
Pressed flowers on paper
Courtesy the artist

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Exhibition view

From left to right: Pernille Kapper Williams, Běla Kolářová, Pernille Kapper Williams

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Dewar & Gicquel
Boxing Gloves, 2006⁄10
Kangaroo skins
Courtesy the artists and Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Exhibition view
From left to right: Dewar & Gicquel, Isabelle Cornaro, Pernille Kapper Williams, Běla Kolářová
Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Pernille Kapper Williams
Matter upon Matter, 2008
Porcelain
10.5 x 16 cm (Ø 12.5 cm)
Photograph by Eva Herzog