June 10th to 12th sees Poppy heading off to the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey, a highlight of the annual show calendar. The Fair is a lovely event packed with the best designer makers the UK has to offer in a lovely setting, and with workshops and talks going on all over the weekend. But don’t just take our word for it… Last week we met with Sarah James, the MD of the fair and asked her for the lowdown.
PT: How long have you been involved with the Contemporary Craft Fair?
SJ: I’ve been with the Fair since it began in 2003. It was blank canvas with only a date and a field.
PT: How has the fair changed since it started?
SJ: It’s grown so much. The quality of the makers that sell at the Fair are at the core of the show and is the driving force in its’ success. Without those exceptional people it would just be a bunch of tents in a field.
What has grown has been the opportunities to learn about craft for adults and children, lots of live music, great food, trade stands with everything from museums, magazines to art materials, lots more demonstrators and we also have a garden in the centre. This year we have The Willow Bee Keeper’s Garden. It’s a dreamy place to play and gather honey!
PT: How do you choose the exhibitors, and is it a fun process?!
SJ: Each year I put together an independent panel of people to choose the show. ( I don’t choose, before you ask!) We’ve always done that and it means the selection is fair and unbiased. We get locked in a room for a day to select. Bovey Castle let us use a room there so that bit is great fun as they bring us coffee when we ask for it! Selecting is a serious business, so we take good care as we don’t have enough stands for everyone that applies.
PT: What is the highlight of the fair for you?
SJ: Meeting all the makers, I go round and say hello to everyone. Sometimes I only give a wave if they are busy but I make a point of speaking to everyone, especially new makers and settle them in. For the weekend, I am their Mum and I love it.
The show is a great party and as long as the makers are selling and having a good time, then I feel I have done my job.
PT: So, what would you recommend a first time visitor not to miss?
Obviously, go look at all the makers but a highlight this year is The Great Windsor Chair Race with Chris Eckersley and William Warren, they’re competing against eachother to see who can make the most chairs over the weekend. If you have children, The Children’s Craft Tent is a must! Listen out for the announcements for Punch and Judy and watch the kids (and grown ups) enjoy the show.
PT: And anything new this year that regulars should look out for?
SJ: Well, I’ve mentioned the Great Windsor Chair Race. Also we’ve The Willow Beekeeper’s Garden with woven willow Dreaming Spires playhut by Judith Needham (it is totally dreamy) and woven willow raised beds by Hilary Burn. All the planting is designed to help the dwindling bee population. The Crafts Council are also hosting FIRED UP, an exhibition of works for schools across the region, which is part of a national scheme to bring back clay into schools-v excited to see that! Oh and we’ve got a glass blowing demonstration for the first time. Liquid Glass will be on hand to demonstrate and give lessons to budding glass artists. So all in all, a v exciting show to look forward to!
PT: Finally can you sum up the fair for us in one sentence?!
SJ: Blimey! I’ll try…..
Making, shopping, learning, eating, drinking, living, breathing, loving Craft Fair.
So what more do you need to know – you can book tickets now and we’ll see you there in June.