Friday, 27 May 2011

Death of an Icon

It's with sadness that we heard about the death of Leonora Carrington, a female surrealist artist in a male dominated world. Carrington's work had a dream-like quality with both real and imagined animals featuring regularly in her paintings, many of which have a strong narrative theme.
Carrington was largely ignored in Britain and, after her meeting with the surreal artist Max Ernst, became his muse. Living in  Paris, Carrington suffered many trials including the internment of Ernst by the nazis and a breakdown and admission to a hospital in Spain. Eventually Carrington ended up in Mexico where she lived until the end of her life, appreciated for the fine artist that she was. 

But it's the storytelling element of her work that appeals to me with a combination of folk art and wild fantasy. Carrington didn't like to explain her art which is fine by me as it makes the interpretation more interesting and much more bizarre too.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Review of the BCTF

Leigh Shepherd Designs
Last month saw the annual British Craft Trade Fair at Harrogate, a three day event attracting more than 500 designers and artists and over 5000 visitors.  This has to be the most exciting event in the designer-maker trade show calendar with buyers from galleries, department stores, gift shops, boutiques and garden centres all looking for the next big thing.
Because of the economic climate and the demise of many handmade outlets in the UK, the past two years have been particularly tough for the creative industry so it was inspiring to see so many buyers at this year’s event and to hear so much excited and positive feedback from the traders there.  Four people who caught our eye were artist Julie Bell of SiaArt, semi-precious jeweller Rachel Lucie, glass artist Genevieve Thompson of Wicked Gen Crafts and contemporary jeweller Leigh Shepherd.

Rachel Lucie Designs
Competition is fierce at the BCTF with traders vying to make their product stand out. Simplicity is the key to success with most traders opting for simple white displays that complement their work and show off their key pieces. Here you can see how Leigh Shepherd used two plain display shelves mounted onto white cabinets to show her vibrant paper and scrabble tile jewellery to its best advantage.  Both Leigh and Rachel Lucie were in the Newcomers Gallery but both designers made their displays look totally professional. I really liked Rachel’s use of enlarged images of her key pieces.
Wicked Gen Crafts
But before you even consider taking a stand at the BCTF you need to be absolutely sure about your product. Because of the cost of exhibiting there it is not the venue for test trading to see if your work is saleable.  You need total confidence in your work and be positive that there is a market for your designs. Genevieve of Wicked Gen Crafts has a large repertoire of glass designs but she was extremely selective in what she brought with her.  Her latest glass hearts have a unique appeal and she chose pieces that both complement and describe her style.  She also chose pieces that she loves to make knowing, that if she landed a large order, she would have to make the same design many times over.  

Over-stocking a display is detrimental to the look of a trade stand. Although buyers may order multiples of one item, showing the same item as a multiple makes that display look more like a shop and not a trade stand. Artist Julie Bell of SiaArt kept her display to a minimum, her work shows her artistic style and stands out brightly against the stark white display stand.  Julie knows that selling her art is about selling a life style and appealing to interior designers.
But, like most shows, the BTCF has its winners and its losers – designers who could not pick up a single enquiry and designers who were overwhelmed with orders. Disciplines such as jewellery and glass are highly competitive and oversubscribed. But the most likely measure of success at the BCTF is a long term one – and that is securing a REPEAT order.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Furoshiki Workshop

furoshiki indigo     

Artists in Business will be holding a Furoshiki dyeing workshop on Saturday 18 June 10am to 12 noon at All Saints Church House, Church Street, Ilkley

This workshop will enable you to make two beautiful silk Japanese wrapping cloths using resist and dyes. Furoshiki is an eco-friendly cloth that can be used as a bag or for wrapping gifts. We will be looking at Japanese designs such as carp, sakura and repeat patterns. This workshop is tailored for both textile designers and beginners alike.

Costs: £15 + £5 materials charge.
To book your place on this exciting workshop please email:

To buy cotton Furoshiki visit My Furoshiki on Etsy and Folksy.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Spare Place

Further to my March blog post about pop-up galleries, A Future for Empty Shops, it's now easier to find out where those empty shops are in the UK. 

Spare place

Spare Place is a map of spaces across the UK which can be used for temporary and pop-up projects: it includes empty shops, church halls, fields, shopping precincts and old offices. All spaces can be legally occupied by agreement with the owner. Find out where those vacant premises are or add your own empty space to the website. 

If you would like to find out how to set up a pop up gallery please contact Artists in Business and we will send you a free PDF instruction leaflet. 

Monday, 9 May 2011

British Craft and Design Month

It's here! British Craft and Design Month is sponsored by Craft and Design Magazine to support designer-makers and inform the public of craft and design events in the UK.  Follow the events on the blog or add your own event to the website.