Image by Valerie Seager.
Last year, Valerie Seager established the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award, a 20-year project to offer artists the opportunity to create commissions in arts, craft, and design. The Award was established as tribute to her late husband Richard Seager, a musician, engineer, designer, and athlete who kept a positive attitude and always thought ahead. This year, Award winner Carolin Reichert will design and create a piece of free-standing furniture for a music room inspired by Richard’s passion for music and innovation. The Award package includes a commission, £2000 cost coverage, an article in the Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine, and a London summer exhibition. The Award winner will also benefit from bespoke business mentoring from Professor Anne Boddington (Dean of College of Arts and Humanities), Professor Chris Beer (Warwick Business School), Gareth Neal (furniture designer), Jamie McCartney (sculptor and multidisciplinary artist). We’re excited to be part of the first year of a long-standing and meaningful Award. Read on to learn more about Valerie Seager and her plan for the Richard Seager Annual Arts Award, and click here to hear from her winning designer, Carolin.
LAB: What do you hope to gain from this Award?
VS: Over the next 20 years, I want to create a living legacy for my husband, Richard, whose interests included the creative arts, music, and sport. He was a practical engineer who enjoyed the challenge of solving technical problems through innovative design and use of materials. He was always optimistic about the future and wanted to give talented individuals the opportunity to reach their potential. The Award has 2 aims: to recognise and support emerging creative talent and enable individuals/collectives to acquire the personal qualities and business skills required for a successful creative career. It also promotes charity or community-based projects that benefit from the additional publicity generated by the Award, and provides the winner with experience of creating something for that organisation that is of lasting benefit to its members.
LAB: What did you expect during the sourcing / selection process?
VS: I wanted to see how creatives would respond to an award that offers the experience of working on a charity commission and building business skills within the creative arts.
LAB: In what ways did the shortlisted/selected creatives meet and exceed these expectations?
VS: The three finalists impressed the Selection Panel with their technical skill and willingness to work on the commission. Some of their work samples are museum-quality, and there is evidence that they are developing a recognisable style and personality for their work. All the concepts and drawings were easy to understand, and demonstrated an understanding of the practical as well as the aesthetic aspects of the commission. We tailored the business aspect of the Award to the winners’ requirements, and for some, it was the major factor in them applying for the Award.
LAB: What do you admire most about your selected creative (Carolin)?
VS: Carolin understood that the music cabinet needed to be visually exciting as well as a practical storage solution. Her idea of collaborating with a young composer to re-imagine a piece of music composed by my husband as a piece of art/experimental music notation is truly innovative, and personalises the commission in a way I could not have imagined. Carolin will finalise her plans for the design and make the cabinet whilst also completing her studies at the London Crafts College and exhibiting at New Designers. She was the only student to apply for the Award, and she has the technical skill and determination to make her dream of a career as a furniture maker/designer a reality.
LAB: What excites you most about working with emerging creative talent?
VS: Their open-mindedness and willingness to experiment and collaborate with others who have different skills to make something to which people respond emotionally, or which provides a new perspective on a subject.
LAB: Describe the Richard Seager Award in three words.
VS: Rewarding creative innovation.