Throughout the year the Christchurch and District Arts Council (CADArts) hosts various exhibitions and events in locations around Christchurch, and every three years it hosts a celebration of local creativity – Living Crafts.
Organised by Fiona Kelly, a local potter, and the CADArts committee, the event is held at the Christchurch Priory Church – an iconic building nestled in the heart of the town.
This year was the sixth time that the week-long event had been held at the Priory church, and it bought together a variety of local artists demonstrating a plethora of talents from calligraphy and chair caning, to stone carving, woodcrafts and marquetry.
Daily, visitors were invited to see local artists practicing their crafts, within the captivating setting of the Priory.
ICM Global Communications attended the event, and many of the exhibitors were only too happy to talk about their art and how they had found the occasion so far. Margaret Etheridge, CADArts Treasurer, has developed the unique craft of ‘Felting in the round’. An ex-teacher, she was originally inspired to create soft toys for her grandchildren. This new art has since snowballed and Mrs Etheridge has found herself creating pots, Christmas decorations, pet toys and even a teddy bears picnic, complete with three small bears and a variety of accessories – and two instructional booklets so that others can learn.
Jeweller Patricia Law creates a wide selection of necklaces, bracelets and rings using a range of materials including beads, crystal, pearls and semi-precious stones. She said that visitors had been extremely interested in watching her at work, and she had thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by fellow artists as her work is usually solitary.
June Buxton is a specialist in textiles and ceramics. Her craft combines machine and hand embroidery with ceramic elements to create broaches, pictures and display items.
Other exhibitors included Meninafeliz, which is made up of Anne-Marie Wanner and Bebe Bradley, who specialise in creating jewellery and textile accessories; various painters; the New Forest Guild of Weavers, who displayed the dying art of spinning; and Jane White, who specialises in hatting and has created a vast array of beautiful hats and fascinators, suitable for any occasion.
Musical interludes gave the event a sense of ambience, and ICM Global Communications were lucky enough to enjoy the renaissance sounds from the Dorset Guitar Society, who were the overall winners of CADArts Performing Arts Festival in 2004. The duo played on guitars, which Chris Gillson had personally hand-crafted.
Planning is already underway for the next Living Crafts event, which will once again be staged at the Priory.