THE Woman’s Hour Craft Prize is creating a buzz at Rheged on the next leg of its national tour. The exhibition, organised by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, in association with BBC Radio 4 and the Crafts Council, showcases the most innovative and exciting craft practice in the UK today. Running at the Penrith attraction’s gallery until Sunday, October 28, it includes huge handwoven willow structures, darned knitwear and a bespoke bicycle, clay installations, futuristic glass figures, and jewellery made with 18th Century pins found in the mud of the River Thames., the exhibition explores issues ranging from our consumer culture, to the decline of UK manufacturing, and geo-politics.

The 12 finalists are Laura Ellen Bacon, Alison Britton, Neil Brownsword, Lin Cheung, Phoebe Cummings, Caren Hartley, Peter Marigold, Celia Pym, Romilly Saumarez Smith, Andrea Walsh, Emma Woffenden and Laura Youngson Coll - all selected over the course of eight selection panels by 29 expert judges.

The prize was launched in order to celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft makers in the UK, and to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the BBC’s Woman’s Hour Radio 4 show. The dozen finalists were selected from almost 1,500 applications, and were exhibited in the V&A from November 2017 until last February, before embarking on a national tour.

The winner, Phoebe Cummings, was selected by Rosy Greenlees (executive director, Crafts Council), Tristram Hunt (director of the V&A), Martha Kearney (BBC journalist and broadcaster), Susie Lau (fashion writer and style influencer) and Jacky Klein (art historian). Alun Graves, senior curator of ceramics and glass at the V&A, said that the 12 finalists for the craft prize demonstrate the depth and breadth to be found in contemporary craft practice in the UK: “A brilliant array of talent, they represent diverse approaches and work across a range of media, creating sculptural installations and performances to refined bespoke design. Challenging, thought-provoking, yet often exquisitely beautiful, their work is craft for our time, reflecting and engaging with the world today.”

Annie Warburton, Creative Director, Crafts Council, said: “The twelve Woman’s Hour Craft Prize finalists embody the vibrancy, energy and ingenuity of contemporary craft. The expert jury’s already high expectations were surpassed by the astonishing quality of entries, making for some intriguing debates and challenging decisions. What’s without question is the current confidence and vitality in craft. Representing a breadth of material practice and variety of approaches, the twelve finalists are united by their consummate skill and artistry.”