Nordic Exhibition 2018

Thanks to all who made our Hepworth Gallery show in Wakefield such a success. Our midcentury weekends are always a lot of fun and the follow-up stories really fuel our passion to do more shows. Neil Sully from Modern ID was particularly delighted when a couple of ladies bought the Verner Panton Moon Lamp for Louis Poulson above and Louis Weisdorf Konkylie Pendant below before revealing themselves as Manchester Art Gallery curators who were sourcing for their ‘Nordic Craft and Design’ exhibition that will be taking place for a year at Manchester Art Gallery from 6 July 2018 – 7 July 2019.

We touched base with one of the curators, Fiona Corridan, to hear why she decided to swap her Saturday morning lie in for our pop up at Wakefield’s stunning Hepworth gallery.


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“We wanted to source some pieces that we felt were missing and build relationships with dealers. We were able to do both of these things, so it was a brilliant trip. It is so great to have something in the North! There was a good range of dealers who had some excellent quality pieces and they were so interested in our plans.” Corridan explains that ‘Nordic Craft and Design’ looks at important and influential 20th and 21st century craft and design from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden with the Scandinavian design story being so integral to the history and philosophy of design and designer/makers from the 1930s to the present day.

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Continuing to influence generations of designers and artists from across the globe, its influence can be seen throughout contemporary art, graphic design, textile design, fashion, advertising and homewares. Corridan says the show will “feature the heavyweights from design history, such as Aalto, Panton, Hoppea, Jacobson, Wegner etc, and show them alongside later designer makers. It is such a huge field with an endless list of people to feature, so it isn’t an exhaustive survey. We began with pieces from our own collection and looked at designer makers who have led the way in developing innovative techniques to create iconic pieces, or have pushed and continue to push boundaries in terms of creativity and materials”.

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The starting point will be the art gallery’s own collection with the show developing themes and stories around the pieces the gallery already owns. “We were determined to show new and emerging talent, so have also included designers and craftspeople who have a connection to those historic figures in terms of direct inspiration and/or the way they use materials. Our aim is curate exhibitions and displays that interrogate current collections in thoughtful ways, promoting the wealth of objects in our collections, bringing unusual pieces together and telling stories that we hope engage and inspire the people that come to see them.”

Showcasing furniture, fashion, lighting, ceramics, glass, metalwork and jewellery, Nordic Craft and Design at Manchester Art Gallery will highlight the superb quality and creativity inherent in design from the region. Iconic pieces by Alvar Aalto, Eero Arnio, Verner Panton, Nanna Ditzel, Saara Hoppea, Arne Jacobson and Vuokko Nurmesniemi, will sit alongside contemporary pieces by Mathias Bengtsson, Merete Rasmussen, Anu Penniten, Peter Jensen and Henrik Vibskov amongst others. Designers who have led the way in developing innovative techniques, created iconic pieces, or have pushed and continue to push boundaries in terms of creativity and materials will be highlighted. “

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Over the past few years we have been buying new pieces and developing relationships with private collectors, institutional lenders, contemporary designer makers and brands to agree loans, purchases and gifts that will allow us to build on that collection to tell a wider story and ensure our collections continue to be relevant.” The exhibition also explores the influence of international art movements from surrealism, modernism and pop art to traditional folk imagery and the native flora and fauna of the Nordic landscape.

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A unifying approach can be found in the spirit of experimentation, expressed by pioneering designers from the early 20th century to those working today, and the philosophy of good design to enhance quality of life. Accompanied by an events and learning programme exploring the democratic, practical and playful ethos permeating design from this region, there will be opportunities for visitors to get hands-on experience of modern and contemporary design and develop an understanding on how it can impact your environment and everyday life.

We can’t wait.

Nordic Art and Craft 6 July 2018 – 7 July 2019 Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL

Contact or credit Lucy Ryder Richardson c Modern Shows and Fiona Corridan at Manchester Art Gallery if you would like to copy any part of this feature

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