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History in the Making: Stories of materials and makers, 2000BC to now

Sat 21 October 2023Sun 11 February 2024

History in the Making: Stories of materials and makers, 2000BC to now

Throughout human history, materials have been fashioned by skilled people into objects of beauty and utility. Wood, clay, stone, metal, textile and organic materials – these are the starting point of History in the Making, bringing together a treasure-trove of unique and fascinating objects.

From a monumental mid-17th century Mortlake tapestry, woven to a design by the great Italian Renaissance artist Raphael – on loan from Woburn Abbey for the first time – to expressive hand-painted silks by award-winning artist and designer Christian Ovonlen. Or precious 18th century silverware made by French Huguenot migrants, to highly personal glazed ceramic vessels by rising-star ceramic artist Shawanda Corbett. As well as recent creations by makers who are at the forefront of developing new materials and processes, from living textiles made from plant roots to 3D printed vessels made from recycled coffee cups.

In History in the Making, we bring together outstanding examples of historic craft from the collection of Woburn Abbey, with recent creations by some of the most exciting makers working today from the collection of the Crafts Council. By presenting the historic and contemporary side-by-side we explore changing attitudes towards materials over time, the importance of craft traditions for communities and the environmental impact of it. The exhibition also explores how scientific advances and innovative approaches to existing materials can offer more sustainable and planet-friendly methods of making.