British artist Edmund De Waal was awarded the London Craft Week Medal last night, an accolade celebrating creativity and craftsmanship. The award was presented during the opening event to London Craft Week at the Victoria and Albert Museum, kicking off a week-long celebration of artisanal prowess, which will immerse the city in a rich programme of workshops, talks, open studios and exhibitions.
Now in its second instalment, the award pays tribute to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional skill, showing innovation and originality, and has given an incredible contribution to craftsmanship: De Waal’s work ticks all boxes. After learning pottery at a young age, he started experimenting with the medium working across England and in Japan. De Waal became known for his installation of ceramic vessels, often presented in monochromatic arrangements, which have been exhibited in museums across the world.
‘It’s a ridiculous pleasure, receiving this award in my favourite museum,’ said De Waal upon being presented with the medal. ‘Craft is a way of thinking about the world. Craft crosses all kinds of boundaries, it’s about head, heart, eyes and hands.’ Receiving the award in London, he added, was a special pleasure. ‘[London] is a place where for two millennia, people have been bringing different crafts to reinvent the city, which has now become an international community of friends I am incredibly proud of.’
The award was presented by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, who himself will participate in London Craft Week with a talk discussing his garment construction techniques. Having been an admirer of De Waal’s work for a long time, Chalayan spoke fondly of the artist’s approach to craft. ‘He is someone who uses hard forms creating new connections between past and present, the visible and the invisible,’ he says. ‘He brought craft to a different level, incorporating the written word, using the medium to create narratives.’