Corinne Julius enjoys a snapshot of late-20th-and early-21st-century craft.

Contemporary British Crafts

Amanda Game (Philip Wilson, £17.99)

Craft is rarely taken seriously by museums: it’s the poor relation to fine art. But that is emphatically not the case at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, thanks to the efforts of Sir Nicholas and Lady Goodison.

The pair are assiduous collectors of contemporary applied arts, both for themselves and the museum. A former chairman of the Stock Exchange, TSB, Courtauld, National Art Collections and Crafts Council, Sir Nicholas has the wherewithal and knowledge to have commissioned or purchased for the museum more than 120 objects.

Much of their collection is now on show there, having been displayed with the assistance of Amanda Game, author of this meticulously researched and splendidly illustrated review of the collection.

Each entry contains information on the object, its materials and who made it, providing an introduction to some of the best contemporary makers in Britain. There is also an interview with Sir Nicholas about building the collection.

It is a very personal amassing. Sir Nicholas is a furniture historian, yet the furniture he has selected is in a traditional Parnham vein. His eye for glass, ceramic, silver and jewellery is more adventurous.

He claims to acquire only objects ‘that sing’ and add colour; surprisingly, many are understated. The book offers an intriguing view of how a collection is built and is an interesting snapshot of late-20th-and early-21st-century craft, albeit from a particular viewpoint.


Contemporary British Crafts Contemporary British Crafts: The Goodison Gift to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Amanda Game is published by Philip Wilson, priced £17.99.