Saturday, 31 May 2014

20th Century Design Fair at Farnham

Last Saturday saw us getting up at 4.45am so that we could be at Farnham Maltings by 7am to set up our stall at the 20th Century Design Fair. We were all ready so we just stumbled into the car and off. What a (relative!) pleasure the M25 is at that time of the morning.
We found the Maltings in a warren of narrow streets and were soon inside and setting out our wares. Here's our stand, with its slightly eccentric preponderance of Shorter ware. This is because, back in the late Nineties, D and I became keen collectors of Shorter and amassed a huge quantity of mainly green plates, jugs, vases and planters. It was something of an obsession, fuelled by our buying a copy of The Shorter Connection by Irene and Gordon Hopwood, which is a fantastic book containing many tantalising photos of rare Shorter pieces.
The 'connection', by the way, is with Clarice Cliff, making Shorter of particular interest to Cliff collectors.
     We were quite pleased with the look of our stand, having brought some fresh flowers and also the 'round mini bunting' that I'd made the day before to decorate our shelves (you can see it in the photos above). We even christened our new Instagram account with a couple of photos, but when we looked at them later we decided it looked a bit 'quaint' -- I think you could tell we were newbies at this business.
     It was the first public outing for our new logo, 'Found and Chosen':
This represents a venture into design and retail! We're going to be designing and selling things through various online outlets (such as Society 6 and Etsy) as well as blogging on a new Wordpress blog which I'll tell you about soon. It feels great to be collaborating with D on this and I definitely feel that we'll do better things together (than if we tried on our own) and that our individual skills will complement each other -- so that's a very positive place to be starting out from.
Meanwhile, back in Farnham last Saturday, we were cutting our baby teeth in the real world of retail. The fair was full of lovely stuff, very covetable -- but that was NOT what we were there for! (I did weaken a little bit in the end...). The other stallholders were very friendly and didn't seem to mind us being new people at all. The lady on the stand next to ours shared lots of trade 'secrets' about which were the good fairs to do and when the 'season' starts and ends, which we really appreciated. The consensus seemed to be that this was quite a quiet fair -- it normally takes place in Woking but has been in Farnham just a couple of times while the Woking venue is refurbished. Apparently it goes better in Woking. But we made enough to cover the cost of the stall and petrol with a little bit left over so we were happy. To be honest, it felt a little like playing shops and we just enjoyed the novel experience. We loved the people-watching aspect of it all and I can tell you that Farnham antique-lovers are a splendid lot!
The highlight for us was when a gentleman (not the one above) told us that he was related to the Shorter family through his great-grandmother. We were really delighted that he liked our stand and bought something.
     I bought two boxes of old letters, which I intend to use in some art projects.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Farnham Maltings 20th Century Design Fair

In a bold first for us, D and I have booked a stall at the Twentieth Century Design and Decorative Arts Fair at Farnham Maltings this coming Sunday (25 May).
It's quite a long way to go, but we've decided to sell some of our Art Deco stuff which has sadly been packed away ever since we moved down South. When we finally got it down recently (after over twelve years' banishment), it was like looking into the past, a very different time.
This is some of the stuff we're getting together to take
Our passions for Shorterware and for green and leafy china date back to the time before we had our children, when we were living in Manchester. Fancy free and enjoying exploring a new place, we'd drive to fairs and antique centres almost every weekend -- Tatton Park, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Glossop. Manchester itself had some great places to hunt. We got the real collectors' zeal where new finds were an end in themselves, almost regardless of what they were. But when we unpacked the boxes, we found we no longer felt quite the same about it all. We still like it but we decided we could part with it.
   When we started planning what our stall would look like, I suddenly remembered a very old brocade tablecloth that I bought in an auction up Swaledale when I was a teenager in Richmond. I was in the very earliest phase of collecting and being able to bid in auctions was heady stuff. I started to buy a few things just to get the kick of bidding. This strange piece of fabric was one such thing.

 It's immensely thick and heavy, quite worn and obviously old. How old? It could be Twenties or Thirties, I think, or possibly even late Victorian. I'm not sure.

 I've just finished reading Fiona McCarthy's biography of William Morris (which is absolutely brilliant, by the way -- I cried when she related his death) and it would be lovely to think this might have come from Morris & Co but I don't suppose it does. It's going to be the tablecloth for our stall but I might even sell it too if I had any idea at all what price to put on it. Any ideas?
     The Fair is not a pure Art Deco affair and we could easily have decided to add in some of our other stuff from our 'to sell' shelves: tin toys, seaside souvenirs, Festival of Britain stuff... But D feels strongly that we should present a coherent stall and I've said that he can take the lead on this one, so it'll be mainly pottery. If we do another fair, I'll be in charge and things will be a lot more eclectic. I don't feel strongly enough about it to argue. I think it'll be fun. Why don't you come along if you're in the area? Happily for us, one of my oldest, dearest friends lives in Farnham so we'll be seeing her as well. I will report back on how it goes.

[PS Want to see a truly amazing antique market? While browsing just now, I found this post about Shanghai Pudong antique market -- incredible]

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Postcard secrets pinned down

I've been working away on my print series and a few other things for months now, hence the fall off in blogposts. For the last two weekends, I've been framing, framing, framing. Today I decided to photograph everything to get a feel for how the images look all together.
The main series consists of 'secrets' gleaned from old postcards. By 'secrets' I mean details that are not what the eye sees when it takes in the postcard image in the normal way. In some cases the images are barely visible to the naked eye in the original. I've taken these details and reconstituted them as postcards in their own right, complete with the original captions. I feel this link back to the source of the image is important. The images are strange and unexplained, perhaps rendered even more so when presented as picture postcards. I really like the slightly surreal feeling of some of them: strange, fleeting figures or lonely people isolated in a busy scene. I hope other people will like them -- I'm intending to have them for sale at my open studio days in September. They won't be expensive.
This is probably my favourite print.
I like this one too as I was thrilled to find a naked lady caught unawares through a chalet window. She is tiny in the original. (Both the above pics come from the same original postcard, a wonderful find.)
I like this one too. Well, obviously I like them all, as I created them. It's been very satisfying to make them. Here are some more:

That's probably enough images for now. I'll save the other series for another post. I'd love to know if you like them. The photos aren't perfect but that's slightly deliberate to discourage copying.