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The Harrogate Experience

I went to Harrogate (BCTF) with no real expectations, and that is a good way to travel in life if you want to avoid disappointment. Financially Harrogate was not so great this year, and I suppose the reason for doing a trade show must be ultimately to sell product or make contacts (with people who will later buy product). It was not however a disaster financially, some money was made, some contacts were made but above all it was as I expected a very nice experience. I had my usual neighbours: Richard Shaw, the most lovely, gently humorous of men. Richard makes wonderful sculptures using driftwood and tin, and also does wood cuts. The work is beautiful and has real integrity. He is also one of the worst businessmen I’ve ever met – but that of course makes him all the more likeable!! Richard took a lot of orders at the show and that is good, and I am really happy for him. He can go back to his shed in Lincolnshire with a full order book – hurrah. Other neighbours were Cathy Newell Price who makes silver and enamel jewellery, and Amanda Ross who designs stationery using pressed plants. Both had quite good shows and were wonderful company throughout. Amanda is bold and funny (we are in the same studios - Cockpit Arts) so I know Amanda quite well, and Cathy is serene and I imagine eminently practical. My final close neighbour was the irrepressible Brian Young. Brian has a portfolio career as he knits and is also a landscape gardener. Both he tells me are about balancing colour to create a thing of beauty. He showed me pictures of his garden which is wonderful. Brian is Scottish and has some rather strange turns of phrase . . . if you ask him to keep an eye on your stand while you nip to the loo he will say he’s happy to keep a “sticky beak” – which means a watchful eye! What a strange and wonderful place Scotland must be with such fabulously imaginative phrases!

So it becomes increasingly difficult for me to justify my presence at Harrogate – so I’ll probably give it a miss as an exhibitor next year, and just go as a visitor allowing me to enjoy the social side without the need to make a buck!

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