Art and Craft

ESTABLISHED in 1988

David Newland took the photographs this year as his camera was way better than mine and he took them while it was quiet. In fact we were getting quite worried as it was too quiet. We are used to a deep lull for lunch but this was bad. Then for no apparent reason everybody turned up at once during the afternoon making the hall quite crowded, not that the artists and craftworkers minded because good business then followed.

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The history of the show.

Many years ago now (1988) the Elsenham Community Association started holding annual Art and Craft Fairs in the Village Hall. Joan Boughton was the driving force then.  I was just getting reasonably proficient with my woodturning and had got to the point of wondering what to do with all the stuff I was making. My hobby was the making and over the years I had become good enough to have stopped throwing my efforts quietly in the bin! The village and I started in craft fairs together and we succeeded and grew together, eventually I got co-opted onto the committee. Many of the rest of the committee are also exhibiting local craft-people so we have a very strong vested interest not just in making money for our community but making the show an overall success. To us the show has to be seen as payday for all and good for the public too else they won’t come back next year.

Support by local artists has also been growing over the years so that now we are seeing a wide variety of media and styles. As organisers we count ourselves fortunate that artists are such individualists that we never have to worry about them clashing.

The other committee stalwarts are Sue and Peter Johnson, Sue and Richard Moulds and Terry and Brenda Rosamond and recently Robin and Elizabeth Barker have joined in. As you can see its a very small committee for such a lot of work, if you have any spare time at all and would like to help out you will be most welcome.

It is not a large show, we can just pack in 27 stalls but we never do, preferring to be able to move around easily. This puts a practical limit of 24 pitches on us plus a lot of half pitch demonstration spaces.

We are careful with our bookings, only good quality genuine craft goods are allowed in, our reputation around the villages is more important to us than the pitch fees. We have come to respect the acceptance criteria of the Guild of Essex Craftsmen and don’t need to verify the quality of members work. Some other ‘Guilds’ however simply make a charge to use their logo and do no vetting but we know who they are! We are  additionally very careful to avoid excessive duplication and on our documentation the point is clearly made that exhibitors must not turn up with goods outside their declared interest.

To resolve conflicts local craft-workers get first priority for a month after the year’s launch in the village magazine, on a first come basis, then the remaining pitches are thrown open but we prime the pumps so to speak with a ring around to all the people who have exhibited with us before. As my wife and I travel around the Craft Fair venues we also keep an eye open for new people with fresh ideas and try to book them too, we need to keep the show developing.

Any craftworker wanting to exhibit can make contact through e-mail to me. Non-guild members will be asked to provide returnable photos or samples of goods.