I spent pretty much most of Friday in awe. I was fairly gobsmacked by some of the things I saw at Bovey Tracey’s Contemporary Craft Festival. It was my first time and I’m definitely heading back next year. I didn’t shy away, I stood and chatted to loads of the stall holders (I don’t know if I should call them that, maybe artists?). There were several moments where I became over excited and, mostly made a pratt of myself. I loved every minute of it. I expected high levels of snootiness coming from arty folks but I saw very little of that. In fact, I saw some major loveliness.
There were so many stalls, over 200 for sure. I’m ashamed to say I skipped some, my friends and I only had a few hours before we had to go and collect kiddliwinks from pre-school. My main interest lay in the mixed media crafts, paper, and textile gubbins. I don’t do jewellery (don’t wear it) and I’m not that bothered by glass and ceramics (not that it wasn’t good, it totally was). There was so much awesome, seriously, I didn’t know whether to squee or cry. The intimidation levels were high that day. Do I run and hide? Or do I celebrate how craft really is now a level playing field with what we consider fine art? I’m not going to get into that debate but I do not enjoy the elitism that goes on in this world. I find it funny how much guff people spew when they talk about art. I spent three years studying the history of it and know that there are art people who are right numpties. Crikey, some do tend to take themselves very seriously don’t they!?
Anyway, before I go off on one, here are some of the pictures I took that day. I didn’t take the posho camera, it rained a lot and I’m not quick enough with it to casually snap away, like the fella I saw in plus fours and a flat cap. I took my Lumix point & shoot with a dead spider trapped in the lens.
This was the first stall that made me realise I was in the right place. I was very keen on staring at it all. So much envy.
(I tried where I could to ensure the artists names were in the photo’s, look them up, or if I’ve typed it somewhere like this: Anya Keeley. Highlight, right click and google search, I’m too lazy to link, there will be many names.)
If you haven’t come across Little Burrow Designs, look it up. I think Claire’s inventions are wonderful. I noticed that her stall was very popular. My friends and I hung around chatting for ages (and we would have done so even if we didn’t know her from chatting in the playground at school!).
The attention to detail is marvellous, everything is made from old finds, even the quill that she writes with is proper ancient! Want to get her newsletter? Then you’d better tippytap your name and email address using the vintage type writer. Love it.
This is a close up of one of my favourites, the waves are what drew me to it. There is a tactile quality here that makes me want to do lots of stroking and poking.
I think this is Sue Brown. The dead spider is making its appearance for the first time. Sorry.
I think the shelves are just as cool as the works themselves. All the displays had so much thought behind them.
We all stared at these birdies for ages. When I first saw them I thought they were taxidermy. Apparently others do too. It’s all stitch work!
It is the work of Sarah J Perry Designs. This long tailed tit was my favourite but they were all beautifully made.
This is Craig Fellows. I thought his “casual doodles” were awesome. I don’t think he liked me calling them doodles but I was only teasing. They’re immaculately drawn. And I love the fact that he then puts them on delicate fabrics or turns them into a purse or cushion.
Hen’s Teeth is pretty well known. So beautiful. I wanted a little purse but didn’t have enough pocket money.
I’m trying very hard to do this in the order in which we went round. Next up is Sarah Morpeth. There were a few paper cutters there. All impressive. I liked the colours that Sarah incorporated into hers.
Louise McLaren. More paper cutting loveliness. How does that paper not rip under fingers?
I think this may have been the only jewellery stand I gawped at. The brooches were gorgeous.
Kirsty Elson’s stuff was amazing. I could in no way ever, make drift wood look this good. By this point I was starting to get overwhelmed by how everyone was just so blinking good at what they do. It is not fair. Whilst I was there a guy came up to Kirsty and gave her a curved lump of metal he’d found washed up on the shore somewhere. Provenence is the word that springs to mind. It might not fit perfectly but I don’t know a better word right now. Maybe it’s an antonym I’m after, afterall you don’t really know where you’re ingredients came from.
Can you tell what that is? It’s only blinkin’ crochet! Incy wincy crochet. It reminded me of microscopic things sitting on a petri dish. I totally loved this. I stared at Liz Cooksey’s work for the longest time and probably gushed a lot. Puts me and my granny squares to shame.
This is Teresa Green. She’s a local screen printer and has a shop in Exeter.
I was most intrigued by what Michelle Griffiths (for Resist Gallery) was up to. This was another lot of textiles I wanted to scrunch but was too afraid to touch. How does she do this?!
I was reminded of sea creatures and seaweed. I think this is what mermaids would wear.
And more beachy seaside inspiration.
Ella Robinson is embroidering driftwood!! Flippin’ driftwood. And she made it look good! I’m not even going to try. We had a drift wood BBQ a few summers ago. I thought I was being inventive.
If you look up Linladan, a Swedish Flax, you’ll find a really interesting story about how this collection of colourful threads was discovered.
I wish I’d bought some but I’d already spent my money on food and wool.
This wool! This is completely gorgeous. I have never felt a wool so delicately soft. This is probably because I can only ever afford the cheap stuff, which is never going to get any where near the quality of this. I think this one hank (I don’t like saying the word hank at all but I think that is what this is) will make a shawl. It’s lace weight so it’ll go far. It took an age to wind into a ball. I used two bottles of wine to hold the yarn in place.
This was the stall where I bought the wool. And I know I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed a thorough fondle.
Belinda Harris-Reid. I took quite a while deciding which one would come home with me.
Marna Lunt’s stall was actually the first one we came to but there was a permanent crowd of people. She’d been on the telly the night before actually, did you watch Make! Craft Britain on BBC4? It was very interesting, can we have more please?
When we arrived back at her stall a while later there were still people there but we muscled our way in and drove them away. Ha.
I wanted everything. Marna’s lampshades and brooches are just lovely. Really truly beautiful. But I also wanted to rummage in her fabric basket and steal the beads so I could make my own! I mostly crochet and don’t do nearly enough embroidery. I’m going to now though. I think that’s one of the great things about coming to a place like this. It really is hugely inspiring. I may not be any where near the same standard as the people displaying their works here but it makes you want to do it anyway.
Whilst at Bovey I was talking to Helen Bottrill who fronts Kindred Rose and organises Creative Women Together. Last month I plucked up the courage to attend one of her get togethers for the first time – a total fish out of water experience! I really enjoyed it and it was so interesting to hear how even professionals feel like imposters who are gonna get chucked out of the club. Helen made some interesting points about passion and creativity. Do you love crafting? If yes, then do it! It really is that simple. And don’t compare yourself to others around you. Some of these people have been making stuff for years, they are working hours and hours a day, everyday. It is so hard not to feel envious and even harder not to feel like a massive dunce, fangirl, wannabe. Mostly however, I found that there is a massive network of support here. I may be small fry but at least I know that I won’t get laughed at for trying.
By the way, there were loads more artists and crafters who I haven’t shown here but loved equally as much. Check out Suzanne Breakwell, I didn’t manage to get a picture of her stall but her work is breathtaking.
I hope that no one minds that I’ve written about their stuff. I asked to take photographs of everyone’s work but didn’t mention to all that I would be writing a blog post. I wasn’t sure at the time that I would be! Thank you.