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Exploring the Artistic World of Francisca Onumah at London Craft Week

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This year’s London Craft Week is showcasing an artist-led exhibition titled Material Beings at Kensington’s Cromwell Place. Curated by the studio collective Forest + Found, the exhibition explores the conceptual nature of craft practice. Artists such as Max Bainbridge, Abigail Booth, Chloé Rosetta Bell, and Francisca Onumah will be exhibiting.

The exhibition features the work of the talented artist Francisca Onumah. She is a contemporary artist whose work explores themes of migration, displacement, identity, and memory. Onumah was born in Nigeria and has lived in the UK for over two decades. Her personal experiences of migration and displacement influence her.

Pleat’ bud vase-silver vessel. Fracisca Onuma, 2023

She employs different mark-making techniques to layer repeated hammered marks and textile patterns on sheet metal. This involves blending uniform patterns with imprints that are either intentionally formed or picked up during the making process. The resulting seams and expressive marks, often polished away, exposed and exaggerated. Through the use of these so-called ‘imperfections’, she challenges the hierarchical nature of Silversmithing by finding beauty in defects.

To create figurative vessels and objects, she uses various fabrication techniques. The objects are vulnerably precarious postures, complemented and mirrored silhouettes that gleam in a dark oxidized finish. The objects lean into each other, as if engaged in conversation, and are situated in a shadowy scenery of tactility. By highlighting the expressive marks and vulnerable postures of the objects, she subverts the traditional hierarchy of Silversmithing and creates a new aesthetic that celebrates the beauty of imperfections.

The radical art of Imperfection .Francisca Onumah, Murmur, oxidised copper and silver vessels.

Onumah’s work is a powerful reflection on the idea of distance and the ways in which we are all connected, despite our differences. The use of textiles and plaster creates a tactile quality to the sculptures that invite the viewer to engage with the work on a physical level. The suspended nature of the sculptures also creates a sense of movement and tension, adding to the emotional impact of the piece.

London Craft Week is an annual event that celebrates the best of contemporary craft. The event showcases a wide range of art forms, from ceramics and textiles to jewelry and glass. This year’s exhibition, Material Beings, is a testament to the versatility and conceptual nature of craft practice.

Francisca Onumah’s work in the exhibition is a highlight of the event. Her use of materials creates a powerful and thought-provoking experience for the viewer. It is talented artists who continue to push the boundaries of contemporary art and craft make the exhibition Ineffable. Anyone interested in these art forms must see “Material Beings as it is a fitting tribute to the artists.


Rose Mwikali Musyoki is a creative writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance from the University of Embu, Kenya, and is the founder of Bloom Inc, an art startup in Kenya. Currently, she works as a writer for Art News Africa.

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