Midnight Temptation in Woodstock
Adam and Eve, according to the hundreds of pictures in which they've been depicted over the centuries, wore only fig leaves in the Garden of Eden.
If, however, Eve was to choose an adornment for her flowing locks, the perfect hat is currently the centrepiece of the Oxfordshire Craft Guild's Christmas exhibition at the Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock.
This exhibition, the OCG's flagship event annually, includes a wonderful variety of lovingly-crafted pieces for an everyday pocket, pairing traditional quality craftsmanship and contemporary design in many media, including beautifully-inlaid wooden bowls by professional wood-turner Richard Shock; sumptuous handwoven scarves and shawls in a rainbow of wool, linen and silk; ceramics inspired by 17th century Korean Moon Jars with driftwood handles; glassware by several makers, ranging from the exuberant to the ultra-stylish; the fairytale daintiness of Vicki Lafford’s fabric butterflies, and a treasure trove of jewellery fit for a dragon's hoard, each piece unique and perfect for a Christmas treat.
From this dazzling array, judges Joanna Foster CBE, formerly the Chair of the UK Craft Council; Kate Hipkiss, owner of Woodstock's Junction Gallery; and Esther Lafferty, OX art writer and Festival Director of Oxfordshire Artweeks, chose a hat by Oxford hat-maker Lizzie Hurst as the winner of the 2016 Guild Prize, a prize awarded for outstanding innovation, design, creativity and craftsmanship.
The Midnight Temptation saucer hat was inspired by the story of Adam and Eve, and depicts the time before the serpent lures Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. 'It is the night before the day of temptation,' explains Lizzie, 'and the serpent is slithering around the most alluring apple as it glimmers under the moonlight.'
The hat is saucy and sensational, and yet it's fun too, guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of all who see it. The hat is a dark purple-blue with, at its crown, the shining red and green of the apple in sequins, Lizzie’s first foray into sequins, and the contrast is striking. Creeping around the apple, a more muted ribbon of spotted snake curls to a lightly-feathered rim: as you might expect for the embodiment of temptation, he's a charming fellow with friendly glitzy eyes, peeping over a rim beneath which there are just a few leaves of garden green to frame the face.
'All three judges had independently taken particular note of his unusual hat,' says Esther Lafferty, 'and we thought that of the hundreds of pieces on show, this was one that you'd perhaps most remember when you returned home, and would pull you back for a second look! It's absolutely stunning. If Eve had seen the hat before she saw the apple, she might have been distracted from the Tree of Knowledge and the whole of history might have taken a different path!'
An archaeologically-inspired vase described as 'monumental' by judge Kate Hipkiss, and a delicate necklace in cork, bead and silver were chosen as runners up. These were both made by ceramicist Philp Jolley and jeweller Kate Wilkinson, both of whom were only recently invited to join the Tuild.
For more information on the OCG and its members, visit oxfordshirecraftguild.co.uk
The exhibition runs until 31st December 2016
Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4.45pm; Sunday 2-4.45pm (Free admission)
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