British craft revival comes home this Christmas

The actor, comedian and screenwriter Mark Gatiss is to share his favourite horror film at a secret screening as part of Wonderland – a new and beautiful Scandinavian themed free Christmas makers market on the Dartington estate (29 November – 2 December).

Gatiss’ audience will be met by a white rabbit (1 December) amid objects of desire made by 60 Devon contemporary craftspeople in the Shippon, home of the original 1950s Devon Guild of Craftsmen exhibition. Opening programme of led past Romany music, Baltic and Nordic songs, poetry, street food and the tiniest gin palace in the world, all the way to his Secret Cinema.

Meanwhile Santa Frau awaits visitors in her Tent of Good Intentions, where she invites you to join others and decide on a good intention for 2019 and be part of a Wonderland display. She sits among 40 stands to browse – of woodwork, leather, ceramics, jewellery, textiles, organic skincare, candles, prints and cards, all from local makers selected by Chloe O’Brien, of Me And East, and Lou Rainbow, of Dartington’s craft programme.

Santa Frau
Mark Gatiss

Children and adults who love to get hands can make their own Christmas gifts in affordable, accessible workshops run by the makers – from spoon making to building a tiny home, brewing beer to dressmaking, cheese making to kiln building; there’s even a chance to make your own wooden surfboard.

An opulent interior-designed space opposite the Green Table cafe is a chance to explore Tom Hooker furniture, Stuart Lamble Designs lighting, Lomas Furniture and Ambrose Vevers wooden chairs and shelves, Molesworth + Bird and Isla Middleton soft furnishings and recent Plymouth College of Art graduate Lolita Parslow glassware.

Lou Rainbow, craft learning programme manager, Dartington Hall Trust, says:

‘We’ve been making beautiful things on the Dartington estate since the 1920s and we’re very excited to be celebrating a recent resurgence of that tradition that culminates with our first wonderful Nordic winter makers’ market. For us what matters is that craft is created from the heart with purpose, uniqueness and love channelled through it.’

The Dartington Hall Trust’s founders, the Elmhirsts, were motivated by the belief that ‘progressive forms of education including the arts and craft [are] the foundations of human flourishing’. They welcomed craftsmen and women to the estate from the 1920s including the highly regarded international potter, Bernard Leach, and internationally renowned weaver Elizabeth Peacock. In the 1950s Dartington craftspeople such as potter Marianne de Trey and boat builder Pat Honnor founded the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, which annually exhibited in the Shippon and the Cider Press centre (now the Shops), and now includes enamellist Gillie Byrom, printmaker Michael Honnor, bookbinder Mary Bartlett and leatherworker John Hagger.

In the 1970s the Trust established a high quality arts and craft adult education programme taught by 50 craftspeople including the dyer Susan Bosence, weaver Ruth Ash and weaver Bobbie Cox. After fallow years in the 1980s, Dartington hugely expanded its craft course programme in 2015 and now offers a wide range of hands on courses open to all.

The event is expected to be busy – visitors are encouraged to car share and use public transport where possible. Please check our Wonderland event page for latest travel information before travel.

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