Journal

The Makers - Maiko Dawson

Back at the beginning of 2017 I conceived of an idea to make a series of portraits of makers through the tools they use, this project came to be called the Value of Making.  My aim was celebrate people who make things; a constructive retort to my general feeling that society doesn't value making highly enough. I chose seven contemporary makers whose work I admire because of their design aesthetic, making skill and materiality; across a broad range of disciplines.

Over the last few weeks I have written in no particular order about all the makers I have depicted. Next week I will be presenting all my maker portraits at Collect Open 2018.


When I arrived at Maiko Dawson’s South London Studio I was presented with neat rows of hand tools: Scissors, knives, hammers, pliers, some things were really familiar but there were also a myriad of intriguing things. As well as the hand tools Maiko also uses some quite hefty equipment especially in the production of shoes, I was particularly interested in her shoe making, she creates such wonderful shapes in beautiful colours.  We chatted about our Craft practices but also about the tools and the makers of the tools, about Japanese scissor makers, the sound of a good scissor action and also the decline of British shoe-last manufacturers.

The original intention for this project was to depict each maker through an individual tool, their favourite most important tool. But on visiting the makers I have been so excited and inspired by the range of their tools, the work became much more ambitious. 

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I wanted the portrait of Maiko to reflect the lovely colours she uses in her work and also the clean crisp quality of her designs. So in the end the composition includes; a last, a hammer with an extraordinarily long head, the Japanese blades we discussed and a lovely ziggy-zaggy tool for removing nails.

 Work in progress - Portrait of a Shoemaker

Work in progress - Portrait of a Shoemaker

 Work in progress - from reverse, coloured pieces tacked to white organza

Work in progress - from reverse, coloured pieces tacked to white organza

This work is part of my project 'The Value of Making' and will be on show at Collect Open 2018. My project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Many thanks to Maiko for having me, you can find out more about her practice here .

Collect 22-25 February 2018
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ
King's Road
London SW3

More information and tickets

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Emily MacKillopComment