Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Contemporary Craft Fair

Last Friday I set off on a bit of an adventure; a road trip to beautiful Devon where I was to meet up with a group of friends I have got to know these last few years through Facebook.  I travelled down with Andrea Berry, who is a designer and the owner of Polka.  Famous for her amazing use of colour and pattern, she designs glorious bags and accessories and you'll be able to see Andrea at the Country Living Fair in Harrogate this year!

Anyway, back to the story!  A few months back, we had been having a natter and decided to go to the Contemporary Craft Fair which is held in the pretty village of Bovey Tracy, close to the wilderness of Dartmoor and needless to say, we were all rather excited - it's not very often we get to leave our families and head off on an All Girls weekend away!

I must confess at this point, that upon arriving in Devon I found myself momentarily taken back in time and felt ever so slightly homesick.  Several years back, this little corner of the world was my home and the sights and sounds made me very nostalgic for the good times I spent there.
We had been invited to stay with our dear friend Helen, who runs a successful textile design business called Kindred Rose - she is currently in the process of running several lampshade making courses in the South West and you can also buy her brilliant kits online here!  You may also recognise Helen from the TV - she was one of the designers on the Great British Interior Design Challenge!  Helen lives in a beautiful village, tucked away into the green folds of the Devon countryside, and arriving there was a little bit like going on holiday and finding yourself in a little piece of paradise; a cosy cottage and a warm welcome awaited us, as did wine and a lovely meal.

 Helen and her house guests :: Andrea, Jo, Helen, Kate and me

Saturday dawned rather turbulent weather wise.  Following an epic storm in the early hours we watched the dark clouds rumble in from the moors, and as we munched on crispy bacon dished up on thick farmhouse bread, we began to wish we'd brought our wellington boots! 

We drove down to Bovey and met up with some of our other friends - Ros, who is the owner of Roslyn Mitchell Designs, a very innovative textile artist who recreates buildings in fabric to make the most amazing architectural pieces of art!  Angie Spurgeon, who is a talented graphic designer and artist and owner of Artwork by Angie.  When not designing for clients, she's successfully selling her work in Waterstones and the National Trust to name just two of the places you'll find her delightful art!

The fair was wonderful and I can really recommend a visit. I can honestly say that its been a long time since I was surrounded by so much amazing talent.  Three of our friends were exhibiting at the fair - here's a glimpse at their wonderful stands:

Kirsty Elson

Kirsty is a clever dot!  Finding driftwood and other treasures left by the sea on her local beach, she creates beautiful cottages, harbours and other coastal-inpsired art from her finds.  You can discover more about Kirsty and her work here.

 Marna, centre with Ros (left) and Angie (right)

 Marna Lunt

Marna is a very inspiring lady; hailing from the North Yorkshire moors, she creates beautiful hand embroidered items which are inspired by her surroundings and also famous landmarks.  You can read more about Marna and her work here.

Claire Read (with Jo Harratt)

Claire is a lady with an eye for nostalgia and owner of Little Burrow Designs.  She uses vintage tins and ephemera to create stories and unique pieces of art, embellished with sewn elements and text.  Claire's work is truly beautiful and you can find out more about her here.

Anyway, back to the fair.  As I wandered around I found myself in conversation with quite a few of the makers.  It's very inspiring to chat to these people and I do like to say Hello and have a little natter.  One lady in particular, who I met for the first time is such a talented bean I just had to share her work here.  Julia Jowett weaves her love of a dark fairytale into her work, which is created with wire and fabric.  Here's a peek at some of her intricate art works:

 (L-R :: Me, Julia Jowett, Andrea Berry, Jo Harratt)

You can find out more about Julia here.

So, back to the fair!  It wasn't all shopping and chatting - there were also lots of pitstops for food and drink, and what a glorious selection of goodies were on offer to tempt the tastebuds!  Despite the boggy conditions, the food and drinks area had the air of a festival about it with jaunty bunting snapping in the breeze, folk music and a really happy, laid back atmosphere.  Home made lemonade and wood fired pizzas, generous chunks of chocolate cake and farm ice-creams were just some of the delicious treats available.

On Saturday evening we were joined by two other friends who had come down for the fair - Kate Brazier (who runs the increasingly successful Kate Creates), an artist who has a knack for capturing the nostalgia of the seaside with her bright watercolour paintings, as well as offering a range of fabulous greetings cards.  Read more about Kate's business here.

Our other friend, Jo Harratt who runs Elf, is a textile artist with a flair for needlefelting.  Jo has recently created a line of felted animals which are mounted on embroidery hoops - you can find out more about Jo's work here.

More shopping ensued on Sunday, and then all too soon it was time to say Goodbye...once again, the good times had flown by, and we found ourselves crawling up the M5 in heavy traffic, back home, travel weary but happy and full of new memories to treasure.
I feel very inpsired and nourished to have these lovely girls in my life.  They're there through thick and thin, and my world is much lovelier for having them in it.  Thanks all of you, for making the weekend so special

See you next time, when I've got something colourful to share with you.
J x


  1. A great read and captured the ambiance of the fair perfectly! I did a double take at the photo as I thought, I recognise that face. It was Helen, we were side by side selling our wares once at a local show :D

    1. What a small world eh Helen? :)
      Thanks very much for your visit to my blog, and your kind comment .
      Julia xxx

  2. Thanks for the lovely article, Best wishes
    Sarah James
    The Contemporary Craft Festival

    1. Hello Sarah, thanks very much for your comment, I'm pleased you enjoyed my blog and thanks for visiting. The fair was absolutely wonderful, looking forward to next years already! Julia xxx

  3. I loved this post, I am so impressed with all the lovely things you ladies create! I really enjoy your blog Julia.

  4. After reading this post it's feeling like a very small world! I live in North Devon and traveled down to the Fair for the day on the Friday. I wanted to write a post about it too and could happily have taken photos of most of the stalls, they were all so creative and so beautifully presented. But I decided to pick out just 5 of my favourite stalls and ask them if it was OK to take photos. I wrote about it earlier this week and 3 of my 5 favourites were Kirsty Elson, Marna Lunt and Claire of Little Burrow Designs! I suppose it shouldn't feel quite such a coincidence, probably the fact that I follow your blog suggests I tend to be interested in the same kind of things that interest you, but reading your post and seeing these 3 featured certainly felt like a bizarre coincidence given how many wonderful stalls were there.


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