Charmian Adams (1937-2022) – Contemporary Art Society

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Charmian Adams (1937-2022) who was an avid applied arts collector and the Contemporary Art Society’s craft buyer (2003-2005) of nearly 30 items which were distributed throughout UK public museums.


Charmian was passionate about the multitude of talent found in all areas of the contemporary craft world. She would scour the shops, art fairs and craft exhibitions across the UK in search for what was handmade and good design by both the celebrated names and emerging crafts people.


In 2003, she said “I have chosen a very wide spectrum of work in order to embrace some makers whose work does not receive the recognition it merits. The contemporary crafts deserve to reach a far wider public than they do at present.”


Apart from building up her own collection for over 40 years, she purchased works for the Contemporary Art Society at the beginning of the 21st century by artists such as Neil Wilkin, Felicity Aylieff, Dail Behennah, Tara Michelle Coomber, Ane Christensen, Jenny Crisp, Yoko Isawa, Angela Jarman, Caitlin Jenkins, Mo Jupp, Neil Macgregor, Alistair McCullum, Jennie Moncur, Julian Stair, Kate Malone and Wendy Ramshaw. They created objects in a variety of media: ceramic; silver and gold; willow; leather; glass; acrylic and textile.


She would have been happy to know that the Contemporary Art Society’s interest in craft is still as strong today as ever, with the Ada Award and Griffin Award demonstrating that her influence lives on.


Also, The Holbume Museum in Bath (Charmian’s hometown in her later years), and for whom she was Patron, became a museum member in 2022 following on from the Crafts Study Centre (CSC), University of Creative Arts, Farnham in 2021; they will have craftworks donated to them by  the CAS over the next few years. The Holburne also held the exhibition Charmian Adams Collecting Craft in 2019 which displayed her flair for spotting quality. She will be missed by the makers, from whom she enthusiastically commissioned new work, and the beneficiary institutions.