You have had an annual Christmas pop-up at Myriad Antiques for the last 7 years. What spurred you on to do the bigger pop-up this Spring?
I curated the shop at Garsington Opera (below) since I started it 10 years ago and from this sprang my passion for supporting makers and presenting their work to a broader audience. So 7 years ago I extended this into presenting makers at Myriad Antiques, where I also worked, at an annual Pop Up. This grew each year and now I have given up both these things to launch my own venture Curator&Maker. The difference now is that I am working with the makers to curate a range built round a particular theme, and generally ask the makers to produce pieces which are exclusively available only through Curator&Maker. As part of what I hope will be an ongoing collaboration, I am presenting the launch collection at Myriad Antiques.
How do you find the makers and creators?
I spend a lot of time touring the country going to local art fairs and markets as well as visiting the degree shows and of course through word of mouth. It’s hard to find these people as they are often working on their own and skilled at designing and crafting their pieces but not particularly experienced at marketing and selling their work. That’s where I hope I can add some value for them, as well as stimulating them to make work that I think will sell into a wider market.
Do you have any favourite pieces (or ones that you are planning to buy?!) from this pop-up?
This collection is a very special one as it’s based around the republication of ‘Forget-me-not and Lily of the Valley’, a charming and magical illustrated children’s book first published in 1909 by my great great uncle Maurice Baring. The story revolves around the spring flowers and summer flowers, never normally allowed to meet, coming together for a ball. So all the makers are producing work along this theme. Particularly amazing are Natasha Hulse’s (below right) painted and embroidered lampshades and boxes, where she has based the designs directly on the flower characters in the book. And Jane Treays has produced incredible cut paper collages of exuberant spring and summer flowers bursting from jugs in her own special collection (centre). Hares Tail are making one-off hand block printed antique tablecloths with cornflower designs. But all the makers have produced incredible things and of course the book will be on sale too – I’d buy any of them and probably will!
Why do you think crafts are having such a resurgence at the moment?
I think it’s a reflection of a desire in society to celebrate the hand made and to value the time and skill that goes into hand made objects. People want something that’s unique and that their friends can’t all just go and buy online. We are about celebrating the physical pieces and the stories of the people who created them – you will only be able to buy the items physically in person – we are proud that you won’t be able to ‘add to cart’. All our makers’ items will be short runs and won’t be repeated – when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Do you have any favourite antique auction houses or markets?
It’s always hard trawling markets and my favourites are in France – Beziers (below), Montpellier and Poitiers are good staples – and in England, Frome and Stroud can often throw up interesting things.
Do you make any of your own crafts?
I’m a frustrated maker and completely incapable of making anything but I think my strengths of being able to inspire makers to create new products and present them to a broader audience are complementary to their skills.
I know you prefer to buy in person but are there any online sites that you like for crafts/vintage?
I think the people behind The Shop Floor Project do a fantastic job of curating very interesting ranges, often from makers that I’m already in touch with. (Right, Court Dress and Tapestry Gloves by Unity Coombes).
Which are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow?
Emma Burns whose style I admire so much @violetburns
Alexandra Tolstoy @alexandratolstoy whose passion for life is infectious and brave
Butter Wakefield (left) whose garden design and creativity is so inspiring @butterwakefield
Julius Roberts is my go-to on all things food and farm @telltalefood
When’s the next pop-up?!
I’m expecting to do one in the run up to Christmas and after that we’ll see. I want it to stay small and only present collections of pieces that I really believe in when they are ready. I hope generally we can enthral people with the pieces, the makers and their stories with events that surround the shows and I hope we will also be able to present work all around the country.
Curator and Maker Spring Pop-Up is at Myriad Antiques, 131 Portland Rd, London W11 4LW from 10th-18th May, 11am-6pm every day except Sunday. A Little Bird readers are also invited to the launch drinks event from 6-8pm on the opening night, 10th May.