‘A Nation of Shopkeepers’ for the 21st Century

How time flies – I have had an online boutique for over five years and this 21st-century way of shopping has become routine.

And, in the last decade everybody, but everybody I know uses online shopping for some aspects of their lives, but sometimes for me it is pleasant and beneficial to meet my customers in real life. This was the case the other weekend at Blackthorpe Barn. I set up my display, took a quick tour round to meet fellow artists and stood by my stall ready for the first customers at 10.00 am.

By 11.00 am the featured scarf displayed was sold to an enthusiastic customer who used to be a silk painter. Obviously, the large poster-style photograph caught people’s attention, but there is nothing like seeing and feeling silk in real life and I hope she enjoys wearing it. 

British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn is a good venue to attend, but there is a newer, 21st-century form of selling. Since the first experiments in Los Angeles, the ‘Pop-Up Shop’ phenomenon has spread across the globe. Pop-ups in all sizes, selling all types of products, from all types of venues temporarily open their doors to the public. And, in my little corner of East Anglia a local artist transforms her charming house into a Christmas Pop-Up Shop for three days selling work by fellow artists from the surrounding creative community. 

The Pop-Up Shop at East Cliff House, 24, Harwich Road, Mistley, CO11 1LQ, will be open Friday 7th from 3 pm to 9 pm, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th December from 11 am to 5 pm.

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Shopping globally, inspired locally

UKHandmade-showcase-front-pageDon’t you just love our flexible outlook on life? Most of us have that strange ability to hold two totally opposing views at the same time. Here on Planet Earth we happily buy and sell to each other all round the globe, but at the same time we applaud the idea of ‘buying locally’. Luckily for me my scarves when boxed up are small and light so earlier this year shipping to Singapore was as easy as shipping down the road to the next county. On Monday of this week my work was chosen to appear in the current UKHandmade Showcase ‘Textiles’.

double page spread silk scarves UK handmade showcase
Inside double-page spread.
(Mildred pink uses motifs from the medieval rood screen at St Helen’s Church, Ranworth, Norfolk.)

I guess we like the idea of shopping locally as we feel connected to our town, region or even broadly our country. Sometimes, and I think this is particularly so with handmade craft pieces, there is often a reflection or essence of place in an artisan made object. Designer-makers, along with fine artists frequently cite their environment as a major source of inspiration. There can’t be a finer example of the importance of place as inspiration than the magnificent Maggi Hambling work ‘Scallop’ a tribute to Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten. The Suffolk coast was, of course, the inspiration for Britten’s ‘Sea Interludes’ and Suffolk born Hambling says of her work

“An important part of my concept is that at the centre of the sculpture, where the sound of the waves and the winds are focused, a visitor may sit and contemplate the mysterious power of the sea.”

scallop aldeburgh Maggi Hambling
‘Scallop’ Maggi Hambling
2003, Aldeburgh beach, Suffolk.
This 4 metres tall, steel sculpture is a tribute to Benjamin Britten.
The words “I hear those voices that will not be drowned” from Peter Grimes are cut into the steel.
Made by Aldeburgh craftsmen Sam & Dennis Pegg.