In September 2018 Crafts Alive: The Gloucestershire Guild at Rodmarton Manor took place at Rodmarton Manor and Gardens, nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6PF by kind permission of John and Sarah Biddulph.
‘On a beautiful late summer’s afternoon, we walked into an amazing spectacle … an old fashioned canvas tent with craft workshops in action, and through the main door, past the warm welcome of the reception, we entered a magical world of craft, set in spectacular surroundings.’
So writes eminent Arts patron Richard Paice of his arrival at Rodmarton Manor for the Crafts Alive festival put on by the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen from 5-9 September.
John and Sarah Biddulph, the fourth generation of the family to live at Rodmarton, opened the property for this special event.
The festival was the brainchild of Guild shop manager and curator Jo Swait, and textile artist Liz Lippiatt. They had the idea of displaying contemporary craft work in the Manor house, alongside the unique Arts and Crafts furnishings, with additional events to allow for public participation.
There were talks, demonstrations and workshops and children’s activities, a historic plants stall and a physical theatre performance by students of the University of Gloucestershire, as well as a stunning exhibition by members of the Guild, and invited exhibitors of international repute and artists from Victoria Works studios in Chalford. Guild member Mike Bigland curated a sculpture trail in the beautiful Rodmarton gardens.
Visitors loved it. ‘Very exciting and different’, ‘Amazing everything’, ‘Brilliant range of quality crafts, sympathetic to this wonderful setting’ – these are just some of the comments recorded.
‘Public response was overwhelming’, said Guild chairman Ursula Jeakins: ‘We had over 3200 visitors and around 70% of them had never been to Rodmarton Manor before, so we are thrilled if we have been able to help bring the significance of this extraordinary Arts and Crafts house and garden to a wider public. Ticket sales came from far and wide, including Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Hampshire, Sussex, East Anglia, London, and California.’
Some of the original craftsmen at Rodmarton were founder members of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen in 1933, and the legacy of the Arts and Crafts movement is alive in the high quality of work produced by members today. Arts and Crafts historian Mary Greensted, who was chairman of the Guild for the last 10 years, has a particular expertise in the house and its history.
Rodmarton Manor Photo Album and Brochure
Harriet St Leger
David Ian Smith
CHARLOTTE ABRAHAMS ‘RODMARTON RE-IMAGINED’
Charlotte Abrahams, renowned design writer and curator, will furnish the bedrooms with work by contemporary designer-makers responding to the spirit of Rodmarton. Look out for Sue Paraskeva, Moira Buckley, Liz Valenti, Natasha Kerr, Zoe Hillyard, Nicki Jarvis, Hannah Louise Lamb, Charlotte Hodes, Rosalind Wyatt, Cleo Mussi, Sandra Sashou, and a group of artists from Victoria Works Studios in Chalford, who are creating new, site-specific work for the Stonehall Bedroom.
Exhibitors include: Adrian Bates, Susan Early, Mike Bigland, Lucy Birtles, Colin Hawkins, LocoGlass, Louise Hawkins, LocoGlass, Matt Tradgett, Nigel Williams, Marie Shepherd, Caroline Barnett, Richard Cresswell.
JULIE DOLPHIN ARTS & CRAFTS PLANTS
Julie who runs Miserden Nurseries, and was formerly a journalist and researcher for BBC Gardeners’ World, will display and sell her selected plants & topiary. On Friday 7th Julie will demonstrate planting methods for a late summer pot that will last through the winter, linking in with Rodmarton gardens. She will be present on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
THE SPIRIT OF RODMARTON PHYSICAL THEATRE PERFORMANCES
Following their successful performance – ‘Landscape’ – Students of Physical Theatre at the University of Gloucestershire will be performing a sound and movement piece inspired by Rodmarton and directed by Gillian Yates. Costumes will be designed by Guild members Helen Foot, Sarah Tradgett, Kathryn Clarke, Jenny Bicat and Liz Lippiatt.
Video credit: School of Liberal and Performing Arts, University of Gloucestershire
RODMARTON ARTS & CRAFTS COMMUNITY HANGINGS
A contemporary design for textile hangings inspired by appliqué techniques used in those created by Hilda Sexton’s community project of the 1920’s. The modern interpretation will be displayed in the Arts & Crafts Tent for the duration of Crafts Alive before installation in its permanent home.
HISTORIC ARTS AND CRAFTS FILM with showings at specified times in the Chapel.
Guild makers’ films will also be shown on a loop.
CHILDRENS WORKSHOPS AT THE WEEKEND
A free drop-in Festival Crown making workshop will run across Saturday and Sunday.
Ben, from Award winning ‘Ben’s Kitchen’, will run a children’s bread making workshop on Sunday 9th linking with the lovely story of guests at Rodmarton. Participants will leave with a loaf of special bread, ground and made on the same day, with unique printed bags recreated from an original design.
A programme of RODMARTON TALKS in the Chapel.
‘Not above borrowing from tradition: keeping the crafts alive’.
Rory Young is a sculptor and historic buildings conservationist.
‘Rodmarton Manor: the story of an Arts & Crafts House’.
Mary Greensted is an eminent Arts and Crafts curator and writer, with a particular expertise in Rodmarton Manor.
‘William Simmonds, Puppet Master’
Jessica Douglas-Home is a painter and writer.
Daily CRAFT DEMONSTRATIONS from Guild members.
House tours daily with one of the Rodmarton guides which will give an insight into the story of Rodmarton, as well as Margaret Biddulph’s vision that drove the creation of this unique Arts and Crafts House.