The Artists Behind London Craft Week x Haeckels

The Artists Behind London Craft Week x Haeckels

Introducing the artists behind EARTHING: A crafted ecological experience through bio-based materials

At Haeckels, we constantly push boundaries and challenge the status quo. That’s why we’re thrilled to present EARTHING, an exhibition showcasing the works of eleven innovative artists and designers as part of London Craft Week 2024.

These talented creators are not just making art; they’re redefining the very essence of craftsmanship. By embracing overlooked materials, collaborating with nature, and exploring sustainable alternatives, they’re paving the way for a more mindful and environmentally conscious future.

Seetal Solanki (Narrator and Materials Translator): Seetal Solanki, renowned author of Why Materials Matter, serves as the narrator of our audio guide experience. With a passion for exploring how materials shape our world, Seetal guides visitors through the exhibition, offering insights into the intricate connections between craft, design, art, people, and the planet.

Crystal Wang, a Taiwanese biodesigner who creates fossil-like sculptures using soil-borne bacteria, crushed seashells, and eggshells, which improve soil health and prevent degradation. Crystal’s sustainable approach to ceramics preserves the craft while benefiting both people and the planet. Her process mimics traditional ceramics without the use of extreme heat, carbon, and energy; the naturally occurring calcium carbonate within the shells binds and solidifies these earthly matters together, creating a collection of objects that Crystal titles Bactoware.

Dasha Tsapenko, a Dutch-based Ukrainian-born artist who crafts textiles and art pieces from earth-grown fibres. Collaborating with scientists, farmers, and artisans, Dasha’s project, MYC_Carpet, combines handspun hemp yarn with fungal spores which provides this piece with its strength, function, and versatile nature. The stability that hemp fibres offer allows Dasha’s creations to be easily decomposed back into the soil, reducing methane emissions and enriching the soil to encourage further growth. Through her work, Dasha highlights the importance of co-creating with the environment and local communities.

Aléa, a Parisian-based material research design studio founded by Miriam Joshi and Stella Lee Prowse. Aléa explores post-industrial methods by fabricating with mycelium—the root system of fungi—relinquishing control to let nature take its course. Their piece Dirty Chair No.4 is part of the ‘Back to Dirt’ project, incubating products in soil using locally sourced Parisian fungi roots and waste papers from Parsons School of Design. This conscious approach feeds back to the earth during decomposition, enriching the undergrowth. Aléa’s process embodies the phrase, “you are a product of your environment,” unearthing the role of ecosystems beneath our feet.

1. Crystal Wang: Batoware  2. Dasha Tsapenko: MYC_Carpet  3. Aléa: Dirty Chair No.4

Hot Wire Extensions, a Swiss design studio founded by Fabio Hendry, explores the potential of neglected materials. Integrating design and ecology, they create sustainable material landscapes. Their innovative process involves blending sand and SLS nylon powder in a wooden crate with copper wire, fused using heat to form solid objects. Inspired by nature, they bond disparate materials to craft furniture, sculptures, and installations. First Harvest Along the Coast showcases their industrial crafted process, using materials recovered from factory floors.

Jeffrey Stephen Miller, UK-based designer and co-founder of Ferzom Ceramics, envisions a London metro system functioning like a mineral mine in his ongoing project, From the Underground. Upon discovering that iron oxide—a common ceramic glaze—is a major air pollutant in the London Underground, Jeffrey initiated a micro-industry of tile manufacturing. Using a cordless vacuum, he excavates iron oxide from the metro’s rail tracks, grinding it into a fine powder through friction. From the Underground combines London Clay, iron oxide dust, and metro tile symbolism, reflecting the city’s history and culture while addressing pollution concerns. With plans to use these tiles for repairs, the project moves beyond speculation, redefining urban mining and sustainability.

Tessa Silva, British-Brazilian artist, transforms surplus milk proteins from a Sussex farm into voluptuous forms, aiming to explore the human experience of milk. Her practice restores value to these materials by rescuing milk protein and calcium carbonate from dairy farms and quarries across the UK. She gives new life to abandoned materials through casting, moulding, and setting, challenging their original context in her project, The Entirety of a Lactic Thing. With compostable milky calcium objects, Tessa reimagines our relationship with milk and the land, repairing fractured bonds and highlighting the beauty of sustainability.

4. Hot Wire Extensions: First Harvest Along the Coast. 5. Jeffrey Stephen Miller: From the Underground  6. Tessa Silva: The Entirety of a Lactic Thing

Gabriella Rhodes, a craftsperson from North Wales with roots in Stoke-on-Trent, practices a land-based art rooted in the earth. Gabriella maps and observes the landscape, using materials from the immediate environment to create site-specific assemblages. For her project Earth Mound, she forages clay, sand, straw, stone, dust, and soil, blending them into stacks inspired by traditional Welsh earth buildings called Clom. The clays are reclaimed from various sources, diverting them from waste streams. The Clom-style forms are coated with linseed oil for protection, avoiding the carbon effects of kiln firing. Using a non-firing process, the Earth Mound can be respectfully returned to its original surroundings, the soil, after being crushed and remade.

Emeli Höcks, a product and furniture designer in Gothenburg, Sweden, engages in a dialogue with the land through her practice. She prioritises understanding the lifecycle impact of her material choices, using charcoal, bone, pottery shards, and organic matter in her project Terra Preta, inspired by the nutrient-rich soil of the Amazon rainforest. Local wood shavings enhance the sculptures with a custom charring effect, known as biochar. Emeli draws inspiration from indigenous Amazonian practices, recognising the importance of exchanging knowledge to improve soil health on a broader scale. By recontextualising these learnings, she aims to demonstrate the harmonious impact of soil health on land and people.

Gemma Smale, a ceramic artist trained in traditional pottery from Essex, UK, redefines her practice by embracing overlooked materials. Working with wood ash, iron scraps, and clay, she explores a novel approach to ceramics, experimenting with an eggshell glaze in her series Origins. Through these vessels, she seeks to inspire others about the possibilities of passing on traditions through alternative making methods, reacquainting herself with materials to imbue her work with a sense of place and an untold origin story.

Paula Camiña Eiras is a Galician bio-designer based in London who explores the connections between industry, place, culture, and craft through materials. Extracting a biopolymer from crustaceans to create a yarn applicable to traditional basket weaving practices, Paula’s project aims to highlight the compounding impacts arising from local deforestation and excessive biomass production in the region.

Her commitment to collaborating with local artisans and their traditions aims to prolong the lifespan of skills and craftsmanship that is highly present in Paula’s Co-Obradoiro Galego collection.

7. Gabriella Rhodes: Earth Mound  8. Emeli Höcks: Terra Preta  9. Gemma Smale: Origins  10. Paula Camiña Eiras: Co-Obradoiro Galego

Each artist brings a unique perspective to the exhibition, exploring themes of preservation, co-creation, unearthing, recovery, mining, repairing, foraging, recontextualising, reacquainting, and weaving. Their works challenge traditional notions of craftsmanship and offer alternatives to hopeful futures where environmental consciousness and artistic expression meet.

Listen to the audio guide here.