The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey, Devon

H&A’s Alice Roberton enjoys three days with some of Britain’s finest makers


H&A’s Alice Roberton enjoys three days with some of Britain’s finest makers 

As one of the most prestigious craft events in the UK, the annual Contemporary Craft Festival features undiluted excellence from an outstanding range of artists, jewellers, potters, knitters, woodturners, felters, weavers, glassblowers, screen-printers and furniture makers, to name but a few.

The festival atmosphere is fabulous with a packed schedule of talks and workshops, delicious food stalls, cocktails, music and entertainment. 

H&A is delighted to sponsor this event and acting editor Amanda Robinson (right) awarded the Homes & Antiques 'Antique of the Future' award to Manchester-based textile artist Liz Cooksey for her intricate mixed-media work.

First time exhibitor Claire Read of Little Burrow Designs makes magical one-off artworks using antique, found and recycled materials. Her pieces tell charming stories of childhood and look great displayed as a collection.

The H&A stand welcomed many readers and visitors who were keen to take advantage of our special offers on subscriptions and magazines as well as pretty homewares. Sue Ashworth bought a Denby Manor Green jam pot from me to add to a comprehensive collection she’s been building up for years. 

Tina Bell noticed the enamelware potted with flowers outside the stand. They reminded her that she has a large collection in her garage that she’s been meaning to breath some life into, so I directed her to our July issue’s enamelware feature for further ideas. ‘I can’t wait to get home and get creative. Thanks for inspiring me,’ she said.

Opposite the H&A stand was fellow event sponsor Made By Hand Online, a curated website representing 120 British makers of contemporary crafts. The team, consisting of jeweller Sarah Drew, MBHO director Katie Honnor, MBHO assistant Becca Cosgrave and slipware potter Hannah McAndrew, who was doing live pottery demos, were enjoying a welcome ice cream break!

Falmouth maker Chris Thorpe of Head & Haft was exhibiting at the event for the first time and commented on how great it was to showcase his work where there was a genuine appreciation of skilled British craftsmanship.

The on-trend colours Angie Parker uses for her handwoven textiles were turning heads over the weekend (see her designs on page 12 of the July issue). Angie, who is mentored by Margo Selby through The Crafts Council Hothouse Business Development Programme, set up her business two years ago and says things have really taken off this year.

Another maker who caught my attention was printed textiles and surface pattern designer Emma Purdie whose bespoke lampshades would add a fab splash of colour to any room. It was great to see Emma screen-printing live on her stand.

The festival is a meeting of minds and a great place to get together with other makers. These ladies originally met by sharing their work online and travelled the length and breadth of the country to meet up in Devon. ‘We can’t think of a better place to meet and talk about our shared love of making’ said Angie Spurgeon to a murmur of agreement from Andrea Berry, Roslyn Mitchell, Helen Bottrill and Julia Crossland.

Despite the busy weekend there was time to have a celebratory drink and a wind down at the evening social events arranged by festival organiser Sarah James (second from left). Also enjoying a sundowner was silversmith James Dougall (far left) and Brett Payne, another silversmith and winner of the Tony Piper Craft Excellence award, with his daughter Katherine.

The Contemporary Craft Festival’s sister event, Made By Hand, will take place in Cardiff City Hall between 31st October and 2nd November. It’s another one not to miss.

Here is where H&A will be popping up throughout the country during the rest of June. 


Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th, 10am-5pm - The Decorative Home & Salvage Show, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN

Saturday 14th, 10.30am-3.30pm - Monicas Vintage Fair, St. Johns School, Rochester Road, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 2JW

Saturday 22nd, 11am-4pm - My Little Vintage, The Granary Hotel, Fawsley, NN11 3BU

Sunday 29th, 11am-4pm - The Vintage Home Show, Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0FE

Sunday 29th, 10am-4pm - Oyster & Pearl Vintage Fair, Umbrella Centre/St Marys Hall, Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1DD


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