Rook Lane and Back Again

Whilst our building work has taken precedence over my jewellery business¬†this year, I’ve been trying to keep my hand in artistically by rekindling my sketching skills. One of the things I’ve done is to join Frome Sketchers, which has been great fun. Now we have our first exhibition.

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This is one of my sketches of Frome:

Christine Kaltoft, 'Bobble hat', Frome, Frome Urban Sketchers

It’s a friendly and supportive group,¬†and going on a sketch crawl is a great way to take the edge off the terror of drawing in public if you’re not used to it. Plus there’s brilliant homemade cake!

There’s more information both on the Rook Lane website, the Frome Sketchers facebook page, and David Chandler’s website.

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The busy season begins

Having got back from a holiday in Australia, I find myself already in the run up to Christmas! Already this week I’ve posted a collection off to Walford Mill Crafts in Dorset for their winter show, and have several more packages nearly ready to go.

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I’m also giving a talk about my work in SEED, my most local gallery, next week. I’ve not really prepared yet, but have lots of thoughts buzzing round in my mind about what I want to show and say!

If you’re in the area and able to come along, it’s next Wednesday evening, 24th October, at 6pm in Frome, Somerset. It’s free, but you do need to book here.

My first solo show!

We’ve been living in Somerset for a year now, and so it’s very timely that my first solo show has opened in my new home town!

Bruton museum hosts a programme of local artist’s work with the show changing each month, and for April 2012 it’s my work in the spotlight! This feels quite important to me because jewellery is such a diverse art, and although I’ve met many new people here, and many of them know I’m a jewellery designer maker, I suspect that means many different things to different people. So I feel a bit like I haven’t really had a proper professional identity. And now that will be different: it’s a bit like a rite of passage.

It’s also an important opportunity for me because I’ve never had so much space to display my work in before, and consequently I’ve been able to put more out than ever before. In addition to the table cabinet, which contains a selection of jewellery, and three walls for my prints, I have a tall display cabinet. Quite an unusual space for a jeweller! In order to make sense of this, and to put an educational slant on the show, I’ve used this area to talk about process as well as product. I hope it makes it a bit more interesting for visitors: it’s already led to some good discussions.

Most things on show are for sale, and 25% of the takings go to support our wonderful local museum, so that’s great! The show is open until the end of the month, and there will be a special reception from 12.00 – 14.00 this Saturday 14th, and it’d be lovely to see you there!

Just Make

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Had a lovely day last Saturday visiting Wells and taking in a collection of jewellery to ‘Just Make‘ on it’s opening day.

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I’ve been to Wells before: it’s not far from our home, and has some very lovely historic buildings plus a great market, but I hadn’t discovered the Market Street area where Just Make is before.

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It’s interesting that it’s called Market Street, because it’s not where the market is: an historical name I guess? Anyway there is one (rather good) fruit and veg stall there, just at the entrance to The Courtyard, which is where Just Make is situated. A good landmark.

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I met Laura Pearcey, the owner, at the ‘Made by Hand‘ in Newport last December, where we were both exhibiting. She makes covetable ceramics under the name of Boop Design, and is also an experienced ceramics teacher. Opening Just Make is her latest venture.

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Laura’s done the space up really well: it all looks very smart. As you’d expect, Laura has some of her own quirky ceramic jewellery and pots on sale. 

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There are also ceramics by other great makers, including Tone Von Krogh.

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Other Made by Hand makers get in there too: these lovely bags by Dr Bean are really special. We bought one as a present last Christmas: it now lives with my sister-in-law in Australia (and she’s extremely pleased with it). I’m very tempted to get one for myself too… 

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Not only is there a careful selection of high quality handcrafted work for sale in Just Make, but Laura’s also holding classes and kids craft sessions there. It’s not a huge space but ideal for small groups.

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If you haven’t been to Wells it’s definitely worth a visit, and Just Make and the area around it are ‘musts’. Sew Vintage, a few doors along, is a haberdashery and sewing parlour, and Millie Moon have opened a haberdashery boutique and sewing school just round the corner. In fact ‘This is Somerset’ is hailing it as the Wells Craft Quarter.

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It’s also quite foodie, with the farmers markets and a very nice deli. On Laura’s recommendation we had lunch in The Good Earth, a vegetarian cafe in Priory Road, just around the corner. I had a delicious quiche, salad, and cake, and will definitely be returning!

Somerset Art Weeks: Holt Farm

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Now I’m feeling slightly guilty about this post because we went to see the Redlynch Artists who were exhibiting at the Organic Gardens at Holt Farm, but actually I’m afraid I preferred the organic gardens to the show. Sorry Redlynch artists, but I guess art isn’t meant to appeal to everyone anyway, is it?

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The wonderful gardens at Holt Farm certainly did appeal to me though. Holt Farm turns out to be the home farm of the Yeo Valley dairy business owners. They open their garden to the public on specific days throughout the summer and for special events including this show.

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This is my sort of garden. Wild(ish) swathes of flowers bursting through gravel, vistas, sculpture, a vegetable garden, and a great tea room. Lovely cakes. Amazing loos!

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I particularly liked the way that each little feature was thought through and attended to: the handles on gates were beautifully crafted for instance, in fact there was a lot of art in the garden in one way and another. I regret now not taking more pictures, but it was rather rainy when we were there, and you can see more pictures here, on the Veg Plotting blog

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Do take a look at the Holt Farm website: it’s equally well crafted with – believe it or not – a snail walking around it waving it’s antennae (I assume that’s what they’re called). I guess walking is the wrong word, but it is in all honesty a little too jerky to be called a slither.

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Whimsy – no garden (or website) should be without it. Open once more this year only, on 30th October for Seedy Sunday.

This feels like a generous garden, and I shall enjoy my Yeo Valley dairy products all the more from now on!

Somerset Art Weeks: Wick Farm

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I’ve long been a fan of open studios: in fact visiting ‘Hidden Art’ studios in London’s east end was one of the things that made me passionate about craft in the first place long before I became a maker. I loved climbing wonky staircases and emerging into wonderful caverns of creativity: quite magical. Of course the romance disguised often appalling working conditions and extreme poverty, and I’m sure makers who were sometimes quite desperate for a sale. And we did buy some fantastic things, some of which still adorn our home now.

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I had no idea what Somerset Art Weeks would be like though, as this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to attend any of the exhibitions and events. To our great delight I have to say they’ve been fantastic. Very different to the London events in many ways, but still revealing sides of life that are new to us, and of course some amazing art and craft.

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One place we’ve visited and thoroughly enjoyed was Wick Farm, near Langport. Ten artists had collaborated to create a whole trail of fun things.

I particularly loved the gigantic metal hare’s head shown above, and the swimming costumes which had been planted up with flowers beside a swimming pool were fun. A turf seat with upcycled sacking cushions was refreshingly cool and surprisingly comfortable. The shepherds hut full of fast deteriorating food sculptures, was, I guess, interesting (as well as very saggy and rather mouldy).

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In the wood (yes it’s a world away from Hoxton) there were a number of installations including a series of action men and women climbing a tree (amongst other antics), a giant rabbit sitting in a tree, a series of etherial dog paintings, and various suspended carvings.

Unlike the London studios, there wasn’t much of an emphasis on things being sold, unless you count the soup, tea and cakes, which we happily bought and throughly enjoyed!

All in all: top marks for effort. Loved the map, the atmosphere, the venue, the food, and some of the art, and I’d definitely visit again. Many thanks Wick Farm Arts!

Gallery nine

Had a lovely day last Friday taking a package of work into my newest gallery: Gallery nine in Bath.

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Bath is the closest big city to my new home in Somerset, and so I was very pleased when Sarah Denholm, the proprietor, came around to my stand at the Contemporary Craft Fair in June and asked if I’d like to exhibit in her gallery. A few weeks later I ventured into Bath and I found that her gallery was definitely my sort of place, so I gladly accepted her offer to be my representative in this beautiful city!

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The gallery itself is in a really nice area. Margarets Buildings is a small pedestrian street a few minutes walk from the centre. It’s less touristy and more residential up here, and the gallery sits alongside some lovely little shops, cafes and restaurants: an ideal situation. 

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Inside everthing is beautifully presented. A number of highly reputable jewellers I know have work there: Catherine Hills, Lesley Strickland, Gail Klevan to name just a few. 

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There are two floors, and addition to jewellery, Gallery nine has a great collection of ceramics.

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These elegant vessels are by David White. Sasha Wardell and Phillip Lydden also have work there which I also love.

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And who can resist Sue Binns lovely stripey and really functional mugs and jugs (not me – I have several!)

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There was a great selection of paintings and prints. I particularly liked the paintings in this picture, by Neil Canning. Made me wish I had more wall space. The textiles were good too: some lovely scarves. Sarah and I obviously have similar tastes.

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All in all, I’d highly recommend a trip to Gallery nine. It’s certainly a place I’d be frequenting even if I didn’t have some of my jewellery in there.

9b Margarets Buildings, Bath, BA7 2LP

tel 01225 319197

www.gallerynine.co.uk