Ties That Bind

Ties That Bind

Published on Monday, July 22, 2019. This article appears in the June/July 2019 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Author Staff
The Foraged Home

A look inside The Foraged Home

Mark LaFavor

The Foraged Home
By Oliver Maclennan
Photos by Joanna Maclennan
Thames & Hudson, $40

The Foraged Home is an open invitation into 23 beautiful international homes full of repurposed materials, each an organic expression of its maker’s outlook. Some homeowners set out to live in harmony with nature; others discover unexpected beauty in the forest. One forager, who collects and dries stinging nettles and foxgloves for her cottage in the west of England, sums up her philosophy: “When I was young, my grandad told me that nature has all the answers.”

Oliver Maclennan’s people-focused stories sit among more than 300 sumptuous photographs by Joanna Maclennan. There are also chapters on vital forager skills – wreath-making for those near woods, flea-market shopping for city dwellers, and even a section on mud-larking, the practice of digging through mud for lost or abandoned materials.

The Foraged Home celebrates an art form that can be woven into our lives no matter where we make our homes. ~Andrew Ranallo
 



Weaving Modernism: Postwar Tapestry Between Paris and New York
By K.L.H. Wells
Yale University Press, $65

In the years after World War II, the ancient art of tapestry weaving saw a renaissance in France that brought it smack into the mainstream of modern art. The technique was a natural fit for the bold experiments of artists such as Picasso and Miró, who designed original tapestries and also authorized weavers to create precise copies of their paintings, often in small editions. These less expensive works helped spread the artists’ modernist message far and wide, as collectors and curators snapped them up, and decorators used tapestry as a softening element in the spare architecture of the time.

This rich, scholarly book on the era is friendly to armchair art historians, too: Even the minutiae of color-charting Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes for a tapestry commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller is captivating. ~Barbara Haugen
 



William Simmonds: The Silent Heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement
By Jessica Douglas-Home
Unicorn Publishing, $30

It can be difficult – even dishonest – to present a single figure as central to an artistic era. But in this book, Jessica Douglas-Home accomplishes the task convincingly. The Arts and Crafts movement, born in Britain, flourished around the turn of the 20th century and placed renewed emphasis on traditional craftsmanship in the decorative arts; in William Simmonds, it had an unassuming but essential participant.

“William was convinced that, to be a true artist, inspiration is not enough: there must always be a properly developed craftsmanship,” she writes. Simmonds’ own skill manifested across mediums and disciplines. He painted, sculpted in wood, and gained fame as a puppet maker; his wife, Eve, designed and made the costumes for his anthropomorphic creations. If the puppets had a fairy-tale aspect, his sculptures of woodland animals had a simple, moving accuracy.

Douglas-Home presents Simmonds’ complicated biography, from his schooling at the National Art Training School (now the Royal College of Art in London) to his friendships with luminaries such as painter John Singer Sargent and writer D.H. Lawrence. She also lays out a strong case that, though Simmonds wasn’t the most famous artist of his era, he nevertheless was its paragon. ~Robert O’Connell