Showcasing the creative side of our county
- Credit: Archant
As a local girl, the Royal Norfolk Show has always been a massive event.
It's difficult to describe to people from outside of the county what a huge event it actually is. I always explain it in these terms: 'Try to imagine Glastonbury festival, only with the cows, sheep and tractors taking the place of rock bands.'
I grew up in a small village called Hindolveston in North Norfolk. As children we were allowed a day off school to attend the show. Our main aim of the day was to collect as many stickers and free gifts as humanly possible, as well as competing to finding the strangest-looking sheep.
So it was really lovely to finally be able to take part in the event, displaying my range of handmade textiles at this year's show, in the Best of Norfolk tent. I am an illustrator and textile designer. My studio is based in the Assembly House, a gorgeous Georgian mansion on Theatre Street in Norwich. For the past three years I have been working as the manager of the Noverre Gallery, curating a range of exhibitions featuring the best artists and makers from around East Anglia and beyond. In a small studio space at the back of the gallery I spend my time designing and hand-printing my own range of textiles.
My collections feature original illustrations that have been inspired by my childhood, growing up surrounded by the beauty of the Norfolk countryside. Wild hares, bright-red lobsters and allotment vegetables are printed onto tea towels, napkins and double deck chairs. I also spend my time scouring the charity shops of Norwich, always on the lookout for the second-hand belts that I adapt into leather handles for my shopping bags.
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With so much of my inspiration coming from inside our county, the Royal Norfolk Show really felt like the right place to be. In the weeks leading up to the show I had been locked away in my studio, printing and sewing, as well as working out the very best way of displaying my screen-printed tea towels, napkins, aprons and double deck chairs.
I arrived very early on the Tuesday morning with everything prepared. There was a wide range of different artists and makers displaying handmade jewellery, ceramics and dog portraits! I thought I had prepared for everything. What I hadn't prepared for, however, was how incredibly hot it was. I mean it was sweltering. Once the gates had opened, thousands flocked in to see the cattle parades, skydiving and, of course, to collect as many stickers as humanly possible. Luckily I had a substantial number to give away.
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As potential customers entered the tent, there was a lot of interest in my products and plenty of kind words… but, to be honest, it was so hot that people's brains were frazzled. Finding the nearest ice cream van was top of the agenda, so I had to make do with handing out postcards and praying for rain.
Thankfully the weather showed us some mercy and it cooled down a little on the second day. I had some great feedback and already people are popping in to the Assembly House to see me hard at work. It was a really great experience to sell my work in my home county and to meet so many other creative people producing a really high standard of arts and crafts. I'll certainly be returning next year.
I also managed to find some time to look around the site and make some new animal friends. It was just like being a kid again, collecting stickers and searching the site for the strangest looking sheep.