The Loewe Foundation’s initiative to showcase and celebrate newness, excellence and artistic merit in modern craftsmanship through the annual Loewe Craft Prize found 26 finalists from around the world for its second edition this year, and amongst them, the winner of the 2017 Loewe Craft Prize – ‘Tree of Life 2’ by Ernst Gamperl from Germany.
A work that explores “the meeting point between formal values and a social message”, the woodturning specialist’s winning craft is hewn from a massive 300-year-old oak uprooted during a storm. The large wooden containers take their design cues from the forms, fissures and fractures of the original tree – a replete with natural imperfections that pay tribute to eternalise the story of a fallen tree.
While careful carvings of filigree parallel grooves evince the artisan’s hand on the surface, the treatment of clay, earth and stone powder, combined with the wood’s natural tannic acid, gives the objects a fitting organic finish. Replete with natural imperfections, these tributes eternalise the story of a fallen tree.
Besides that, Tokyo Glass Art Institute postgrad Yoshiaki Kojiro received an honourable mention for ‘Structural Blue’ of glass powder and copper oxide powder mix mediums. Praised for “the exercise of research, embracing risk and innovation to achieve ultimately a structure of experimentation”, the art piece is a musing on the relationship between materials and man. The unique interplay between the melted glass and the gases emanating from heated mineral resulted in an ephemeral glow that creates a withered texture on the lasting form.
A descendant of the indigenous Purépecha people of Michoacán, Antonio Cornelio, Artesanías Panikua has also received a special mention for the craftsmanship of ‘Tata Curiata’, which “speaks of a collective cultural legacy, demonstrating that craftsmanship with artistic ambition should have no material limits; straw can be as noble as gold”.
Several hundred strands of wheat fibre are woven together to form ‘Tata Curiata’, a representation of a sun deity that denotes war and fire. It also illuminates the connection between craft and ancient farming techniques with the dual motifs of stars and humming birds. The intricately designed piece is a testament to the inter-generational transfer of knowledge and skills; a practice that preserves the unbroken chain of ancient production.
Aimed to acknowledge the importance of craft in today’s culture and recognise artisans whose talent, vision and will to innovate will set a standard for the future, the Loewe Craft Prize invites any profession artisan to apply, with the sole requirement to combine an innovative craftwork with an original artistic concept in their submissions. A panel of experts and juries, including Loewe Creative Director Jonathan Anderson, sieved through close to 4,000 applications over 75 countries, with a diverse spectrum of works that covered many techniques, media and modes of expression.
Ernst Gamperl’s winning work was announced in a special ceremony in Madrid by iconic actress Charlotte Rampling. He received a silver trophy and a cash prize of €50,000. Along with all the finalist entries, ‘Tree of Life 2’ will be featured in an exhibition at the Colegio de Arquitectos de Madrid (COAM) from 10 April till 10 May 2017, with subsequent exhibitions at the Chamber Gallery in New York (30 May – 6 June 2017), Tokyo in November 2017, and The Collect Saatchi Gallery in London (22-26 February 2018).