Fresh @ Craft Victoria is always a highlight of the year. The 'best of the best' graduates selected by advisory committee, then curated (in this instance by Craft Curator Debbie Pryor) have been a highlight of the CRAFT calendar. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this amazing showcase of emerging talent.

The ladies of HML have been to quite a few of these let me tell you! Both of us have been honoured to be on the committee in past years and it's been a thrill to watch careers forge ahead from this amazing platform. 

John Brooks(VCA) continues to push at the boundaries of weaving

In our mind this has to be one of the very best we've seen in recent years. The focus is very much on craft - with inclusions of weaving, jewellery, ceramics, even embroidery gets a much needed look in! But what can it tell us about current craft practice? We've noted a return to skill, a celebration of technique and material as a rising trend across  the board and Fresh is the perfect example of that.

We can't wait for Kate Jones' (RMIT) solo show
Some makers we are already familiar with. The wonderful weaver John Brooks who I keep banging on about like and incessant fangirl, the incredible monumental slab bots by Kate Jones who Beck has been raving about since her window exhibition at Craft in 2013. With a solo show later this year we can't wait to extend our ceramics collection.

light and shadow are just two of the dualities explored by Elise Sheehan (RMIT)

There is a real lightness of touch to this show. You can see that it has been 'curated' as things sit together so well and support each other in their quiet pools of light. Debbie Pryor is to be congratulated because Fresh is a tough one. All these new kids on the block trying to flex their creative muscles to be heard above the rest, a committee that has very firm ideas on what constitutes 'Fresh' and a challenging space all make for a tricky mix.

We think Marcos Guzman (RMIT) is the NBT in contemporary jewellery

It may be that having the show In April/May rather than the traditional November/ December has allowed some of the dust to settle on graduation but none of the excitement as was evidenced by a packed opening night. People were genuinely excited to be there, to meet each other and to share in each other's successes.

Guzman's work celebrates primitivism and minimalism at the same time

Craft Victoria also have a fantastic short film celebrating the 20 years of Fresh with some interviews with past recipients. It's a nice watch and shows just what an important show this has become for the craft culture of Melbourne. We'd like to add that unless funding levels are maintained or improved many of the tertiary craft courses will disappear (like tapestry and glass at Monash).

Louise Meuwisson (VCA) dense and strange embroidery
There aren't too many yardsticks for professional maker, especially emerging ones. As they begin a tough journey of defining their own practice and where it fits in a complex craft culture, Fresh remains and important exhibition that acts as both celebration and forecast. This year the mood is resilient and optimistic, a fantastic combination we think. Here's hoping for 20 more. RAMONA (words) AND BECK (pictures)

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