Fabulous Folk from The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey

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I only had a few hours last Saturday to visit the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, but what a fantastic few hours it was. The work and people that I met there exceeded my expectations; there was such originality, commitment and true skill on every corner.

Visiting last weekend really confirmed to me my love for work made by hand, and the magic invisibly imbued into something that has taken time and physical effort to create. A spoon that has taken five or more hours to carve from a single piece of wood, a pot formed from clay collected on the hillsides, caressed and moved into achingly beautiful shapes, a lampshade decorated with wrap after wrap of a single piece of thread, tucked so gently into the other side. These skills and actions have value and meaning and feeling, and they must be maintained and supported. This is so important.

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JULIA JOWETT

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Julia was one of the first people that I met on Saturday, in the “one year on” tent, showcasing artists and craftspeople who were one year into their new businesses.

Julia works dense hand embroidery into metal gauzes and figuratively manipulated wire lines, before combining them with drawing and screen printing onto fabric and paper. This combination of sculpture and drawn elements, sometimes also incorporating words and phrases, made for a really engaging series of work that I was really drawn into. Each one feels a little like a keepsake box, a collection of memories or stories.

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You can make contact with Julia on her blog, here.

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ADAM BUICK

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 I felt an instant connection to Adam’s work, as I wandered into his small space in the corner of the tent. Something wonderfully quiet, natural and peaceful sang out into the surrounding crowds.

Looking on his work, I felt a strong sense of the sea and the landscape, something very close to nature. I later learned that Adam lives and works by the coast in West Wales.

Once home, I was fascinated to read more about his work, and took a look at his website and blog. I spent a good while reading there, and found him to be not only an intriguing artist but also an engaging writer and thinker.

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Adam has been recently involved in a self directed project entitled “Earth to Earth” . He placed an unfired clay jar onto a coastal hill at Carn Treliwyd, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and recorded its gradual weathering away to the environment as a series of photographs, one taken every 33 seconds. On his blog he makes comparisons to his process of firing in the studio, to the effects of the weather on his work. As he says “I am still committing the jar to the elements, air and water instead of fire and there is still a transformation.”

The end result is a moving and dreamlike time lapse film, showing not only the gradual disintegration of the jar, but the changing wild landscape, sea, movement of animals, and the sky and stars. It spoke to me of many things, of resilience, of fragility, and the power of the natural world.

The film was shown at an outdoor event in the centre of Buenos Aires on the 17th of May. You can watch a small portion of the film here.

I really encourage you to read more about this project, it is so fascinating and uplifting, and to look more closely at Adam’s beautiful work on his site.

It made complete sense as to why his work has such a quality, why it holds something of that passionate connection to nature, even in that crowded, noisy space.

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JANE BLEASE

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A warm and Autumnal hued space welcomed me in to Jane’s beautifully arranged collection of handmade lampshades, framed pictures, bookmarks and jewellery.

I was really taken by the absolute precision and care it must take to wrap each single piece of thread round and through the wood burned holes that decorate each handcrafted piece that she works on. The shades give a beautifully warm light, and are totally unique.

Jane is based in her studio/shop at The Manchester Craft and Design Centre. You can also see more and buy her work from her website here.

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CLAIRE ARMITAGE

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Claire’s fantastic energy buzzed all about her space as I stepped in to admire her collection of handmade silk scarves. She was dressed beautifully in her own handmade dress from her own line. Once I looked more closely at the designs on each scarf, I was struck by their intricacy and individuality. Each piece of work is finished with delicately layered edgings and hand-embroidered details, and each one seems to tell some story, of the sea, the landscape and environment. They are truly original and stunningly beautiful – you really have to see them in real life to truly appreciate them.

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Claire designs and hand prints her scarves and dresses, plus undertakes work as a costume designer and illustrator from her birthplace in Cornwall. You can visit her site here.

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NIC WEBB

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Nic was the last person that I met as I made my way out from the crowds. His calm manner and friendliness drew me in to his space, filled with carefully arranged displays of hand carved, traditionally made spoons, ladles and bowls. I really enjoyed the feeling of slow moving time and focus that seemed to fall from the displays and his way of working, there was a quiet honour to each piece of work.

I love that each spoon, each bowl that he creates is slightly different, and is worked with the wood not against it, enhancing each grain and knot and forming it into something original and full of spirit and life.

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You can visit Nic’s site here.

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I hope that I have shared with you a little of the warmth and originality that I found at Bovey Tracey. If you are near at the next event I really encourage you to visit. You can read more about the festival at their website here.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to let me into their space and take photographs.

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Colour Bright

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Well, if your weather has been anything like it has been here for the past two weeks, you might be growing a little sick of the colour Grey..I certainly am, and so have been comforting myself with a search for something brighter.

Here are some of my visual cures for the “Supposed to be Summer but Feels like Winter” Blues..and if you’re having a beautiful hot sunny day where you are, enjoy!

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The creation of textile designer Lorna Syson, these fabric wall flowers would add interest and colour to any room. Lorna says that her inspiration comes from the British countryside, particularly in the Springtime. Her original flowers were based on Dahlia’s that she saw growing at the Eden project in Cornwall, and all of the designs since have their roots in countryside walks and being outside. These flowers can be bought ready made, or bespoke from 20cm upwards in a huge variety of colours, and are easily nailed to the wall using the back petals. Add a little Spring to your wall!

The cushions are fabulous too, and made from a really interesting fabric, being 75% wool and 25% stinging nettles, all sourced and manufactured organically. Huggable, bright, and cheerily good.

Visit Lorna’s site here.

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I found it really difficult to pick which pieces to feature from the work of Ceramic artist Myung Nam An (above). I find these, from her “Eyes” collection, completely unique and fascinating. I like the fact that they reference certain forms, but still remain totally open to individual interpretation. Some are a little like alien life forms, or strange wonders found in the deep seas, giving you a peep before crawling away on suckered feet..some are fun, like childhood sweets, or quirky ladies hats at the races. Working individually or as a group, it would be hard to choose.

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Hello! Such a cute little owl print from Peris & Corr – an organic textile printing company from North Wales.

Peris & Corr offer a water-based screen-printing service and can print onto t-Shirts, tote bags, babies clothes and more. They also design and make their own range of handmade textile products and greeting cards. You can read a little more about their printing processes and see the prints being made on their blog too.

I also particularly liked these Welsh blanket lampshade designs. Bright and lovely.

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Lastly, but by no means leastly, these fantastic coat hooks, made from vintage 1930s wooden shoe lasts really brought a smile to my face..

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I found these at White Dove & Wonder, a company run by art and antiques dealer Susan Gaston and her husband Jimmy.

Grown from an impulse purchase of a collection of vintage Northamptonshire made shoe lasts, Susan and Jimmy began to see many interesting and attractive uses for these discarded items.

They both come up with the designs together, and then Jimmy painstakingly restores each shoe last before hand-making each piece using natural wood.

(I don’t think the doggy comes with the coat hook, but I’d take him home happily too 🙂 )

That’s it for now, I hope you have a bright and sunny day, wherever you are.

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Alison Britton

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Alison Britton, ‘Influx’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Tall Scrawl’ (2009) ceramic

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Cave’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Runnell’ (2012)

photo © Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton, ‘Standing and Running’, installation shot 2012

© Philip Sayer courtesy of Marsden Woo Gallery

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Alison Britton is part of the generation of innovative British ceramicists that emerged during the 1970s, whose work laid the foundations for what became known as ‘The New Ceramics’. She studied at the Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, and is highly regarded as a writer, curator and lecturer, as well as a ceramicist. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and can be seen in major public and private collections worldwide,including the V&A, London, Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. She was awarded an OBE in 1990 for her services to the applied arts, and is a senior tutor at the RCA.

Confidently standing as part sculpture, part painting, part domestic vessel, this work states its presence in a firm tone in Alison’s most recent show, “Standing and Running”, at The Marsden Woo Gallery in London.

Alison works in an interesting way, by rolling out the clay and working on it as if it were a painting, applying various slip colours and designs, before using that design to suggest a final form. To me this helps to lend an unrestrained energy  – they are freed from the wheel. There’s an almost jazz-like sense of an improvised, “lets see what happens” spirit, within the framework of something structured and considered, and slightly hard to get inside of.

On reading some of the many words that have been written about Alison Britton’s work, the constantly returning theme is the vain attempt to be able to classify it. This is perhaps the mark of a true original, authoritatively embracing both art and craft, function and form, the abstract and the actual.

The Frank Lloyd Gallery leaves its final words on Alison’s work to Quentin Blake, who says, “the work may begin as a jug, but it becomes a free-standing story, a poem, a situation. Put in the position of reader, the viewer comes back again and again, each time finding a new word, line, or verse to fall in love with.”

Perfect.

There are some interesting discussions on a piece of Alison’s work in the V&A video archives, here

Find out about new exhibitions and other artists represented at the Marsden Woo Gallery site here.

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Smooth..soft curves to caress..

Contact Elin direct for commissions, via her site.

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RIchard is represented by by the Medici Gallery in Cork Street, London and also the McGill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas.

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Visit Sylphs site for more information about her work, and a list of stockists.

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I hope that you enjoyed this moment of quiet gazing!

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