Wirksworth Festival 2010

Wirksworth, in Derbyshire, is a strange little town. On one hand it’s very much a traditional 18th-19th century village with a slightly touristy feel and some rather wonderful views.

And then, every September, the creative energy of the place expresses itself beautifully in the form of the Wirksworth Festival. Suddenly, overnight, this seeming sleepy town is filled with a truly inspiring buzz of energy:

(Now, I realise that there’s no one buzzing with energy in this particular photo but I did take it at 7 am when I was up to get my stand ready. Once 10am rolled round and the studios opened there were plently of people out and about!)

So, for a whole weekend local artists throw open the doors of their houses, cottages, studios and garages to let the public wander ‘round, getting a first hand look at the creative process. This year there were a good sixty or so venues to explore – almost too much for one weekend – alongside performance events, community projects and 2 actors telling stories while driving you around in a rickshaw. (No, really, they stayed in the same B&B as me so I knew they were real …)

I got to participate by setting up a stand at one of two Maker’s Markets, filled to the brim with local and regional contemporary craft. You’ll be pleased to know that I made good use of my bunting:

and had some great comments about how summery my stand looked.

Of course I wasn’t the only jeweller there, Lucy Palmer had brought her gorgeous mythical pieces back to the festival, Laura Creer had beautifully textured work on show and I met the lovely Helen Shere too. Helens work has a wonderfully quirky and illustrative feel:

Helen Shere - Birds in the Garden Rings

She says that:

I am particularly interested in the use of pattern and naïve folklore in illustration and seek to combine these ideas in my jewellery.

Her ranges are inspired by birds, nature and pattern, it was all so tempting but in the end I came away with one of these:

Helen Shere - Silver Birds Pendant

plus a little mushroom patterned dipping bowl (from ceramicist Mary Johnson) which will make a super present for my mum – who’s an olive fiend:

Mary Johnson - Small Mushroom Bowls

The only really sad thing about it was that I didn’t get to go and explore the towns trails myself, but with events all through September the festival is still going strong and I might get the chance to go back and look at some of the more permanent installations …

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