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The winners of the BOAT International Artistry & Craft Awards 2024 revealed

29 January 2024 • Written by Lucy Dunn

The winners of BOAT International’s inaugural Artistry and Craft Awards 2024 have been announced at the Superyacht Design Festival in Kitzbühel, Austria. The principal aim of the awards is about celebrating behind-the-scenes artisans; talented individuals or teams who spend countless hours creating the finer details on board, from furniture to wall treatments, staircases to individual works of art, that bring an interior to life.

There are two categories, Excellence in Craftsmanship and Emerging Artisan Of The Year. This year the standard of entries, looked over by an independent panel of judges, were extremely high - so much so they also decided to add a 'Special commendation' to a third finalist (below). Meet the winners of this year's awards.

Excellence in Craftsmanship: Cristina Vezzini & Stan Chen

Glass blower Stan Chen and ceramicist Cristina Vezzini make up Vezzini and Chen, a studio specialising in bespoke sculptural hand-crafted lighting and glassware. The couple (both personally and professionally) were commissioned by Winch Design to create this sculptural light fitting for the yacht, Amoa.

Cristina Vezzini and Stan Chen

The installation, which was called Water and Sand and which wrapped the walls of a staircase, was inspired by micro-details seen underwater and the textures of the sea floor. It took four years to create. Hand-blown glass discs (by Chen) represent ‘water’ while delicate porcelain pieces (by Vezzini) represent ‘sand’. Each disc or piece varies in size and design. Lights were then created using backlit engraved glass and white porcelain disc duos and these were positioned at different heights along the wall to illuminate the staircase.

The judges were bowled over what they called ‘an artful marriage of hand-carved ceramics and blown glass’. They were impressed with how the pair had worked together seamlessly to use their materials and textures and create an extraordinary light play, capturing shadows and reflections that mimic the coral and marine life and the refraction of light underwater. A truly one-of-a-kind piece by some truly original creative thinkers.

Emerging Artisan of the Year: Grace Ayson

Stained glass maker Grace Ayson was commissioned by Bannenberg & Rowell to create four wall-mounted panels based on the four seasons of the year for the yacht, Renaissance. ‘Summer’ is all about bright, vivid colours and ‘Autumn’, rich ambers, russets and reds. With ‘Winter’ the palette switches to icy blue, while ‘Spring' is represented with lush greens and blues.

Ayson handpainted her designs on handmade mouth-blown glass and also employed acid etching, silver staining and enamel work techniques to create further richness and depth. Each panel was kiln fired and assembled with soldered lead in the traditional way.

Judges felt that all four pieces were ‘exceptional’ and were impressed with the intricate craftsmanship that went with each panel. They appreciated the number of technical hurdles that needed to be overcome in the process - unlike stained glass windows, the panels needed to be backlit and hung in frames which had to both look sleek and streamlined yet provide the right amount of illumination.

Ayson, they said, should also be applauded not only for her incredible skill but also for her ability to take an ancient craft and make it work successfully for a modern setting. Ayson called these ‘a joy to make’ and the judges echoed this sentiment, saying they were a ‘joy to look at.’

 Judges’ special award: Paul Jewby

Suffolk-based wood carver and sculptor Paul Jewby was commissioned to create 22 door panels featuring 13 different designs in oak by Winch Design for the yacht Amoa.

Paul Jewby

Jewby uses traditional techniques, Victorian tools – and modern oak. Modern oak, he admits, is “extremely hard to carve” and designs dictated that most of the panels needed to be extremely thin, which further complicated the task. While the initial designs, based on natural elements such as water, sand and air, were set out by Winch Design, Jewby was able to add his creative flourishes throughout the process, using his tools to ‘draw’ textures of sand dunes, for example.

The judges wanted to recognise that Jewby was a ‘true craftsman’ who has dedicated his 35-year career to the art of wood carving and keeping old skills alive. The project, which took two years to complete, took patience, rigour and skill. They particularly commended Jewby’s expertise at creating forms, shadows and depth when there was only 3mm depth to carve - this, they agreed, was incredibly impressive and earned Jewby his commendation.

The BOAT Artistry and Craft Awards 2025 will open for entry soon. If you know of any special artisan that should be considered for next year’s awards programme, please do let us know by emailing events@boatinternationalmedia.com

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