Sunday, 21 August 2011

Cornwall Design Fair

After ten days away at the Festival of Quilts and a family wedding, I have decided I am going to go backwards in my attempts to catch up with this blog and start with the event I went to today.  The Cornwall Design Fair is a high class craft fair that I usually miss because it in on the same dates as the Festival of Quilts.  But with FOQ being a week earlier this year I was able to go for the first time for several years.  What's more it has moved and is now held at Trereife House which is very near us.

Trereife House is one of a string of period gentlemen's residences that encircle Penzance.  It has wonderful gardens which you can see better in this photo, and views down to and across Mounts Bay.

There is also a small orchard in a walled garden:

The trees are medlars which is quite unusual these days.  The fruit look rather sad at the moment but I am sure they are meant to be like this.

The Craft Fair attracts lots of local designer-makers who exhibit in marquees.  I was pleased to see lots of younger artists just starting out and great displays from both Truro College and Plymouth College.  I was particularly taken with two pieces by one of the Truro students: long hangings made from linen, one with vertical rows of machine stitching and the other with vertical hand-stitching Kanta style depicting a sun and descending lines.  Unfortunately she had not put her name by the pieces and as the student looking after the stand was a wood-turner, I have no idea who she is.  Obviously I was not going to photograph the pieces without permission.

There were a lot of jewellers underlining the popularity of this option on art and design courses in this area.  I can easily be tempted by silver rings and bracelets but keep telling myself these days that I have more pieces of silver jewellery than I will ever wear.  Also quite a few potters.  There is also a long history of pottery in this area, due in part to the legacy of Leach.  There were some beautiful bowls on the Leach Pottery stand  I particularly liked the ones made by Jack Doherty who is the lead potter.  They had wonderful glazes that really represent the colours of the sea and sand in St Ives but I am afraid there are no photos of them on the website.  I was also struck by how blue is returning as a colour in pottery.  There were several people with lots of blue pieces.  I will put some photos up later but I resisted buying all but one piece as we have nowhere to keep things that we do not use regularly any more.  In my youth I used to collect pottery and have memories of lugging pieces round Europe in my suitcase.  They are still all treasured.

Textiles were also well represented, everything from weaving and knitting to digitally printed silk, appliqued household textiles and some wonderful felt.  Becky Williams had lovely small framed felt pictures with applique and stitching on them .   Again, she works in blue.  Someone told me that if you really want to sell things down here you have to do things that represent the sea and use blue.  She certainly ticks all the boxes!

The other useful aspect of an event like this is that you learn about other events, some of which are new.  Lamorna is a valley about five miles west of Penzance where members of the Newlyn School lived.  Today it is home to at least two dozen artists and craftspeople so it is good to see that they are having their own arts festival at the end of September.   And even nearer for me is the Chapel Gallery in Gulval which has an exhibition in the earlier part of September.  And there is the St Ives Festival in September.  I think I have made a mistake in deciding to go on holiday for part of September.

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