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A secret worth knowing

Surrey is a hotbed of designers and crafts people; see the clever clogs at Surrey Guild of Craftsmen at their Milford gallery

Urchin bangles by Dani Crompton

Stop press! I’ve just discovered Surrey’s best kept secret! And because I’m not much good at keeping things to myself, I’m going to shout about it from the top of every rooftop I can heave myself up on to.

Surrey, it turns out, is a hotbed of designers and crafts people who are turning out a range of contemporary and traditional applied art works that are both utterly stunning as well as affordable. Family and friends of the Muddy Surrey household look away now so I don’t spoil the surprise – your Christmas and birthday pressies are all sorted for this year, and next! You lucky things.

Clockwise from top right: Work by Surrey Guild of Craftsmen members Ruth Winchester, Linda Scott-Cerins, Nancy Shafee, Alexandra Simpson and Louise Bell

The Surrey Guild of Craftsman formed almost 25 years ago, bringing together the best designer/makers in Surrey and nearby counties. There’s a strict admission process to ensure the standard of the work they exhibit and sell remains high.

As well as a gift shop and gallery in Milford, with an ever-changing display by almost 30 designer makers, guild members also pop up at many events in Surrey and the south-east.

They’ve teamed up with the organisers of the Wisley Arts Festival, and 16 guild members will be exhibiting, selling and demonstrating their skills and talent on July 15 and 16. Throughout the weekend visitors can also enjoy live music, acrobatic and theatre performances and a programme of poetry.

The guild group at Wisley will include six designers in textiles, five in jewellery, three ceramicists, one working in metals and one in glass. Many of these talented designers and makers, will be offering visitors the opportunity to ‘have a go’ on their stands and there will also be short drop-in workshops throughout the weekend with four very different makers.

The five Surrey Guild jewellers will introduce some very different designs and media. Ruth Winchester works in polymer clay – a material she says had her hooked from day one. Equally colourful is Linda Connelly’s work in enamels and she will be running short workshops to introduce visitors to the joys and surprises of enamelling.  They will be accompanied by three other jewellery members each with a very different style.


Linda Connelly imparts some tricks of the trade

With six textile artists at Wisley, visitors will discover some widely differing work is on show – weaving, felting, knitwear, quilting and amazing wizardry with stitches! I’m quite partial to a bit of creative stitching, but these talented women put my efforts to shame.

Sue Holton’s beautiful knitwear is designed to be comfortable yet stylish, and her distinctive use of both colour and texture create a definite wow-factor, while Nancy Shafee will introduce visitors to the alchemy of feltmaking!

Clockwise from top left: Work by Tanya Williamson, Linda Connelly, Carolyn Wallis, Gabriella Sellors and Susan Holton

Alan Wallis, a ceramicist, says he finds clay is a perfect medium for catching fleeting moments of movement and character – like with his hare (see the pic at the bottom)!  Jane Henderson will be offering visitors the chance to handle clay and possibly make a small pot.

Nancy Shafee conducts a workshop

Wide-ranging glass artistry is demonstrated by Linda Scott-Cerins who works with both fused and cast glass. Her love of history and fine use of colour produce some unusual and elegant results.  Alison Catchlove’s flowers and insects in metal are already well known to winter visitors to Wisley who will also be able to take part in a short workshop with her during the weekend. Check out her gorgeous owl, below.

Clockwise from top left: Fee Fraser, Alison Catchlove, Jane Henderson, Justine Munson and Alan Wallis

The Wisley Arts Fest is at RHS Gardens, Wisley on July 15-16, from 9am-6pm



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