Saturday, 25 September 2010

Origin: The London Craft Fair

Going to Origin? Don’t forget your jumper. In fact, if you’re a knitwear designer down on your luck you’d probably do a roaring trade as a roving scarf seller – whether “made” or “manufactured”. The chill factor at the new, rather exposed venue at Old Spitalfields Market reminds us that craftspeople are basically market traders with university degrees.

This year sees Origin’s second change of venue in five years. Formerly the Chelsea Craft Fair, the Craft Council’s flagship event started out some 30 years ago in Chelsea Town Hall, where it remained up until 2006 when it moved to Somerset House and rebranded itself as Origin: The London Craft Fair. The move was viewed with skepticism by many, as exhibitors had come to rely on the loyal Chelsea clientele.

Origin at Somerset House turned out to be a success. The Chelsea ladies didn’t neccessarily venture out, but plenty of new punters did. The modern, spacious venue (a sunny marquee spread over the courtyard) was actually a vast improvement over the somewhat cramped and stuffy Chelsea venue. It felt like the fair had grown up.

So it was with great curiosity that I hopped off the tube at Liverpool Street today to see how this year’s Origin would compare.

Spitalfields is not the first place you would associate with contemporary craft, but step into Origin’s whiter-than-white landscape and you could be just about anywhere. The standard of work was excellent, and there seemed to be a better balance of disciplines than in previous years; no longer did I feel that every second exhibitor was a jeweller.

However, when I asked exhibitors how they were doing, the reply was always the same: “Cold!” Protected from the elements only by the old market roof overhead, everyone was taken a bit by surprise, especially as they’d all braced themselves for the usual stifling heat of this particular fair. One exhibitor had expressed her disomfort by covering her stand and allegedly walking out in protest; speculation was rife as to whether she’d just gone home to get a jumper or if she was planning on sitting the whole fair out due to pigeons using her jewellery for target practice.

Still, there was plenty to keep me distracted from the chill. As a precious jeweller I always find myself attracted to big, bright things which are the exact opposite of the delicate little gold pieces I surround myself with in my studio. Margo Selby’s sofa upholstored in her luxurious woven fabrics was a welcome sight, as was her hand-knotted banana fibre rug. And of course I couldn’t help but stop and do a double-take of carreducker’s amazing Winkers – loafers made of reflective tweeds that “wink” as you walk past. One of my other constant favourites is John Moore, who makes bold, kinetic jewellery in anodised aluminium. His structures are perfect in every way, and his sense of colour always surprise me – who would have thought pink and grey could look so tasty?

Unusually, there were furniture designers exhibiting at Origin this year, and my eye was instantly drawn to the amoebic Corsica chair by the Yard Sale Project, a beautiful piece of useful sculpture which I failed to photograph because I was quickly distracted by this piece:

Perhaps this is the start of a new era for British craft. No longer can designer/makers rely on ladies of leisure to come back year after year to the cozy confines of Chelsea Old Town Hall, or even to the relative safety of Somerset House. Craft meets the real world at last! But are we ready?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Goldsmiths' Fair - The Wait is Almost Over!

This will be my fourth year exhibiting at Goldsmiths’ Fair and I feel very lucky to be doing so. It is notoriously difficult to get into and I don’t mind saying that I had to apply five times before I was finally accepted. Even now, just because I’ve exhibited four years in a row doesn’t guarantee me a place next year. As is standard with these kinds of shows, everyone must re-apply each year, a bit like orchestral musicians defending their seats.

At Cockpit (where my studio is based) the arrival of a giant stack of envelopes from Goldsmiths’ Hall in early April brings news of victory or defeat. At least with this particular fair, the acceptance and rejection letters are in the same sized envelopes so you can sit down quietly on your own to digest the news. With Origin (the Craft Council’s annual craft fair) you’re in if you get an A4 packed full of gumpf, and out if it’s a flimsy A5. Everybody else knows too – it’s not uncommon to see people rifling through the envelopes just to see who got in.

And now, with Goldmiths’ just over a week away (I’m in Week 2) all that anxiety is just a distant memory. It’s a different kind of anxiety now of course! Will I have enough work? Have I made too much? What have I forgotten? (I did once show up to a fair having diligently packed everything on my list, except for the jewellery – which wasn’t even on the list because it’s just so obvious!)

I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Friday, 10 September 2010

We’re live!

After several months in development, the new Angie Boothroyd website is now up and running! Have a look at

I shudder to think that I actually built my first website in HTML. Yes, I sat down with a book and typed out all those little bits of code way back in 2001. In those days, people were just amazed that you had a website. It didn’t need to have anything fancy like an online shop; the very fact that my website had more than one page was enough to make an impression.

The site has had many improvements in the years since, but this time round I am happy to say I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Instead, I hired a company called Pretty Mannox to take care of the design. They then brought another company, Dizzy Heights, on board to help with the implementation. (Meanwhile, I was doing what I do best – riding my motorcycle through France.)

The part of the website that is most exciting for me is the gorgeous lifestyle photography that you see on the homepage. This was entirely orchestrated by Pretty Mannox; they found the photographer, the model, the location, and even managed to get the sun gods to cooperate for a few hours. (It rained all afternoon but they’d managed to get the shots they needed before lunchtime.) All this while I sat blissfully by the Loire River helping myself to another slice of baguette and brie.

I say I had nothing to do with it, but I suppose designing an entirely new range of jewellery counts for something. I was obviously feeling rather ambitious at the start of the project and decided I needed to update all my collections. So if you go to the site you’ll see all the pieces are brand new, although a few pieces may seem strangely familiar. (I’ve kept a few key pieces from the “Palm” and “Petal” ranges, but they are now hiding in the “Desert Palm” and “Shimmer” collections.)

Let me know what you think! And don’t forget to join the site’s mailing list if you want to receive news about forthcoming exhibitions and special promotions. If you’re a facebooker you might want to “like” the Angie Boothroyd Jewellery facebook page too; it’s at And thanks to everyone who's already emailed me with your kind comments and feedback!