It’s hard to remember the last time I wanted a jumper quite this urgently. For London Craft Week, leader in knitwear John Smedley has created a capsule collection with the London-based arts organisation Intoart, which has worked for over 20 years to champion artists with learning disabilities in an unbalanced industry, more recently launching its design arm Trifle Studio. Christian Ovonlen, Lisa Contucci and Mawuena Kattah are the artists behind the collection, which includes fine-gauge knitted jumpers, scarves and T-shirts.
With all three Intoart artists creating original designs for the partnership, the final collection takes on three distinct visual styles. Christian Ovonlen, for example, focuses on an interconnected string of drawings (botanics such as sunflowers and beanstalks come through in gestural forms). Lisa Contucci creates an abstract composition by layering acrylic paint, while Mawuena Kattah’s energetic patterns are made by printing shapes by hand.
Two important concepts for the collection are craftsmanship – always prevalent in John Smedley’s manufacturing process – and layers of collaborative work. In this instance, the garments travelled from rural Derbyshire to Peckham to be completed at Intoart.
It’s the second collaboration between John Smedley and the art organisation. The pair also worked together in 2018 when artists Yoshiko Phillips, Andrew Williams and Ntiense Eno Amooquaye designed a run of jumpers, dresses, scarves and shawls.
Intoart’s director Ella Ritchie says: “This new collection is a fantastic translation of original artworks by three artists to knitwear using handcrafted print techniques. The bringing together of artists and craftspeople has resulted in beautifully striking and highly desirable garments.” The collection will be available from 8 May online and at John Smedley’s Jermyn Street store in London, coinciding with the beginning of London Craft Week.
Christian Ovonlen: John Smedley x Intoart, Printed Scarf (Copyright © John Smedley, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.