Stephen Bottomley's 2019 solo exhibition, Space/Craft was a reflective look at his work that captured material fragments and visual elements as a timeline or trail.

Stephen Bottomley's Space/Craft Exhibition


Stephen Bottomley

Research background

Stephen Bottomley is the founder of Craft Cultures cluster and its co-chair.

Born in 1967, two years before the Apollo 11 moon landing, Bottomley continues to be influenced by the space age as reflected and filtered through in literature, art, film and TV. Ancient and Classical jewellery, Egyptian Art and the Renaissance have also been significant, alongside pulp and science fiction, and Japanese and Scandinavian design influences. 

Research aims 

The show aimed to capture material fragments and visual elements as a timeline or trail. This focused on a slow, developmental process of material-based and practice-led enquiry that has taken place over the recent years and across several locations with both old and new technologies and materials.  The journeys between his studio in Edinburgh, research time as a visiting artist in Bristol and his academic work in Sheffield, Edinburgh and now Birmingham have all helped shape the praxis that the exhibition unpacked and examined.

Research methods

Inspired by how ancient techniques can be applied creatively and harmoniously with evolving contemporary materials and technology, Bottomley is known for his hand-made precious metal vitreous enamel jewellery that often combines industrial materials through a range of batch production techniques. His work layers embossed repetitive patterns and textures on gentle rhythmic and geometric forms. Striking colours are applied to highlight an underlying modernist aesthetic style.  The exhibition showcased together for the first time a new collection of Egyptian faience, an auto-enamelling, low-fire mixture of ceramic materials containing clay, sand, colorants, frits, and soluble salt traces that he has been investigating of since the 2016.


The exhibition was critically reviewed by researcher Nantia Koulidou Space/Craft: An eye into Stephen Bottomley’s praxis.