Happy 10th Birthday Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair!

The 10th Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair kicks off on 12 October (Private View in the evening) and runs through till 15 October. It’s in a new venue – Upper Campfield Market – and this year is part of the Design Manchester Festival.

I’ve taken part in all ten of these fairs in more than five different venues. It’s always exciting, it’s always full of wonderful familiar and makers with amazing ideas and skills.

I have been looking back through my photographs. Although I haven’t got them for all the years, here are some pictures of some of my stands over the year. Please excuse the poor pictures!

2008 – Manchester Grammar School

2010 – marquee in Spinningfields

2011 – in an office building near Spinningfields

2012 – marquee in Spinningfields

2013 – marquee in Spinningfields

2015 – Old Granada Studios

2015 – Old Granada Studios


Bookmarks – Figures 1-100

bookmarks in progress 16032016

For a number of years I have known about the Bookmarks project organised by Sarah Bodman at the University of the West of England. I’ve always wanted to take part and this year I have. The idea is that you make an edition of 100 bookmarks that are then distributed between contributing artists and libraries. You can make 100 bookmarks the same or they can be different. I decided, after much deliberation, that I wanted to do paper cuts, and as I like to doodle faces thought that it would be a good idea to cut 100 different faces into my bookmarks. They would be fragile, but that was okay.

After about 20 faces I began to regret my decision and my ability to think up 80 more, but I persevered and below are scanned images of the results. They are blue in the images below because I put a blue paper behind them to scan them, but they are actually just single sheets of off-white paper with nothing behind.

Not all of the faces are great, but it was a good way to explore drawing one thing, the face, with a scalpel, and some I am really pleased with.

They are pictured here not in exact order, and when they were numbered it was not in the order they were cut in as I took them to my studio, my home studio, my living room, my stands at fairs, my hotel rooms to cut them and they got mixed up. My favourite venue for cutting these was recently in the Great Hall at West Dean College – towards the end of the evening there was just me sitting at a table in this vast room cutting faces.

bookmarks 1-5

bookmarks 6-9



Evergreen at Control Room Bristol

Janine Partington Evergreen Control Room b

In the summer I thought – I’m not doing enough with all the fairs, stocking shops and galleries and oh, yes, starting a part-time MA this autumn – what else can I do? So I decided to apply for the Creative Spaces scheme that Bristol City Council run.

Through the Creative Spaces scheme Bristol City Council gives free space in an Edwardian Cloakroom and a Redcliffe Bridge Control Room to creatives to do with pretty much as they like for a week (though some rentals are longer).

There are some health and safety restrictions, but largely you are allowed to submit any idea and it is considered. I’d been doing some experimental work with scalpel cut line drawings and wanted to explore this further. To this end I submitted the idea for the ‘Evergreen’ installation. The idea was to turn the Control Room into a light box and illuminate the night with vignettes of pattern. The idea was accepted and the installation took place over a week in early December 2015.


The scheme I decided on was gradually scaled back due to practical and time considerations, and in consequence I wasn’t initially particularly happy with the end result. However, as I visited it each day to turn lights on and off in the morning and evening I grew to like it and find lots of points of interest that I now feel I can take forward.
Controlroom12x72There were a lot of creative considerations I had to make in creating the installation including taking into account the climatic conditions such as the dampness of the space and condensation during the day – there are also leaks in the roof. Because of this I decided to use tear resistant, waterproof Aquascribe paper and this brought its own limitations as I could only source A2 paper and the windows required larger pieces to cover them. This meant that I had to overlap pieces and create a repetitive pattern as part of the installation.

As well as the paper cuts in the windows facing the road, I produced a small number of leaf crowns which I lit with battery powered led lights. These were the part I most liked about the final installation and, in retrospect, would have filled the space with these. Maybe I will get the opportunity in the future.
Controlroom9x72Controlroom1I took lots of photographs of the installation from different angles at different times of the day, from both outside but also inside the space. Some of the images observed really reconciled me with the work I had produced and I look forward to exploring the ideas they threw at me in the future.


Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Manchester

First fair of the Autumn season under the belt and I had a good show at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair at Old Granada Studios in Manchester last week.

My stand at GNCCF 2015

I took a lot of old favourites but also some new work straight from the kiln like these vessels.

New vessels by Janine Partington Oct 2015

But the great thing about doing shows is seeing the amazing work of others. There’s never enough time to explore when you’re on your own doing a show, but on my quick nips round these are some of the things that caught my eye that I managed to get half decent photos of.

I love the work of Tanti Design – its clean lines and functional nature make it very desirable…

Wood by Tanti Design

Head and Haft have a similar design aesthetic…

Simple design by Head and Haft

I loved this love seat by Ian Saville

Furniture by Ian Saville

I spent most of the show gazing at the wonderful drawings and textiles of Dionne Swift who had a stand opposite me – these light shades inspired by the landscape were particularly lovely….

Lighting by Dionne Swift

I love the shadows that these acrylic hangings by Navdeep Dhiman throw onto the wall…

Acrylic by Navdeep Dhiman

There were a lot of textiles to choose from and one of my very favourites is Sian O’ Doherty – I love her scarves and the blankets are beautiful…

Scarves by Sian O DohertyBlankets by Sian O Doherty

These cushions by Sarah Allen caught my eye…

Textiles by Sarah Allen

and Louise Gardiner’s luscious scarves never fail to delight…

Scarves by Louise Gardiner

Must not forget to mention Angie Parker either who is at the same BV Studios as me and loves colour as you can see from these rugs…

Rugs by Angie Parker

Who have I missed? Emily Knight was showing her collection of enamelled jewellery…

Enamel brooches by Emily Knight

and I always love to see Jane Dzisiewski’s jewellery with her resin stones…

Jewellery by Jane Dzisiewski

Among the Emerging Makers stands I particularly liked Jasmine Simpson’s very strong drawings and her whimsical ceramics which made such a striking stand…

Ceramics by Jasmine Simpson

Elsewhere I also enjoyed Marina Buguil’s mystical creatures that won the Potclays award for ceramics and was very tempted to buy…

Ceramics by Marina Bauguil

Jo Gorner’s prints were stunning and something for me to aspire to create – I’m afraid my photo doesn’t do them justice at all…

Detail of prints by Jo Gorner

And finally, a brief mention of the wonderful Ruth Green’s prints – always great and I particularly liked her new botanical work. She also had copies of her new children’s book Stanley’s Plan which looks wonderful…

Prints and books by Ruth Green

Next show up for me is Made by Hand Wales at Cardiff City Hall, 30 October – 1 November 2015.

Fairs at Bovey Tracey and West Dean College

It’s the middle of August and I’m looking forward to a very busy Autumn/Winter season of fairs and events including Affordable Art Fair Bristol (exhibiting with the Rostra Gallery), Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester, Made by Hand Wales in Cardiff, Handmade at Kew (exhibiting with the Rostra Gallery) and MADE Brighton. However, its also a time to look back at the first part of the year.

I did far fewer shows this year – just two Affordable Art Fairs and Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey in Devon and West Dean Design and Craft Fair featuring MADE at West Dean College in West Sussex. There was so much to see, so many exciting makers producing wonderful work that the images below only touch on what was there. I have far more images of the Bovey show because the photos I took there were so much better and I didn’t want to include bad photos of good work that didn’t do them justice. So, below are a few photographs to give a flavour of the shows, both of which should be returning in 2016.

The Contemporary Craft Festival is so much more than a fair it’s a destination for everyone interested in creativity. Among the work on show was a selection of Associate Member makers of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen 

Devon Guild of Craftsmen stand at Contemporary Craft Fair Bovey Tracey 2015

including Angie Parker who happens to be in the same artists studios as me – BV Studios in Bristol.

Angie Parker textiles

In no particular order here are some other makers who showed their work at Bovey.

Bonner Leather Studio’s 45 case impressed me so much that I commissioned one to be made with a long strap so that I could use it as a shoulder bag to carry tools in. It arrived the other week and is great.

Bonner Leather Studio - 45caseThis detail of cushions comes from the luxury embroidered home accessories collection by Hilda Living. I had to include these not just because I loved the colours, but because I have two great aunts and two second cousins called Hilda!
Hilda Living cushions

These hand built porcelain ceramics by Justine Allison are so delicate and were beautifully arranged on the stand (as they were at West Dean fair too).
Justine Allison ceramicsI love these ideas etched in glass from Vinegar and Brown Paper. At the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair a couple of years ago I bought the pint of milk bottle with the words ‘Very nearly an armful’ etched on it after comedian Tony Hancock’s famous Blood Donor sketch line.
Vinegar and Brown Paper etched glassThese contemporary pieces by Charlotte Anne Duckworth under the name of The Silver Duck are perfectly formed and balanced using silver and holly wood. I own a pickle fork which I use every week for olives etc. It sits in my drawer with the other cutlery but it makes eating feel very special when I use it. Charlotte became a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen recently.
The Silver Duck collectionI first saw these wonderful paper creations by Suzanne Breakwell at MADE Brighton in 2014. I fell in love with them and had to take one home.
Suzanne Breakwell paper sculpture

These wood and metal mechanical toys by Ian McKay are great. My husband bought me one of a ship sailing towards an iceberg many many years ago from the V&A shop. I purchased three chickens pecking at their feed tray for my mother-in-law a couple of years ago – she has chickens, but I decided she had enough and kept it for myself.
Ian McKay automata

I loved the way these woollen sculptures by Benton’s Menagerie were mounted.
Benton's Menagerie felt animalsEkta Kaul’s textiles are luxurious and intricate, but I also love her simple pieces like these necklaces.
Ekta Kaul necklaceSue Pryke’s stand was opposite mine at the fair – I loved the simplicity of her designs.
Sue Pryke ceramics and design

I was sorely tempted by these original screen-printed figures by Mud Rabbit – next time around maybe?
Mud Rabbit stitched figures

West Dean Design and Craft Fair had a spectacular setting in the form of West Dean College in West Sussex. I’ve been there on numerous occasions now as a student and an exhibitor and it never fails to weave its charm.
West Dean CollegeJust a few makers I managed to get a photograph of at this fair which was a shame as there was so much I should have made a record of. I really liked Carys Davies new pieces using text as a form of pattern – its Welsh, but you don’t have to understand it to see its beauty.
Carys Davies porcelainSarah Young is one of the organisers of the fair at West Dean, but is a very talented print maker.
Sarah Young printmakerShared stands at fairs don’t always work but the functional and decorative thrown stoneware ceramics of Studio Sian Patterson and the stainless steel and precious contemporary jewellery of Heather McDermott was displayed in harmony together.
Studio Sian Patterson jewellery and Heather McDermott ceramics

Finally, Tom Aylwin’s contour boxes were a wonderful idea and the perfect special gift.

Tom Aylwin bespoke furniture - contour boxes















BV Open Studios – 24 – 26 April 2015

Visitors to Open Studios 2015

Last weekend I took part in the BV Studios open studios event. Whilst it was a great opportunity to show my enamels and also demonstrate my enamelling…

Enamel display by Janine Partington

Exhibition space work space by Janine Partington

the best thing about the Open Studios was that I could share my paper cutting experiments.

Scalpel cut wall hangings by Janine Partington

I’ve been playing with drawing shapes onto paper and cutting these out using my scalpel. They make my drawings look like they float on air and I have been trying out both 2D and 3D forms using this technique.

Leaves wall panel detail by Janine Partington

Crown of leaves by Janine Partington

Crown of leaves detail by Janine Partington

Go Fish! by Janine Partington

Papercut 2 by Janine Partington

The sad thing about the Open Studios was that as I was alone in my studio I didn’t get to see much of anyone else’s work as I had my kiln on and couldn’t leave it unattended. I did make a point of popping along to see Angie Parker’s studio though.

Angie is a weaver who is an Associate Member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. I knew that she was in a shared studio but from the pics I’d seen of her space I expected it to be partitioned off. It was amazing, and a surprise, to see her loom in the middle of the shared space and surrounded by fine artists. She said that she really enjoys working there and that’s it very interesting being surrounded by people working in different media.

Angie Parker and her loom

I also saw an amazing print in the process of being made on a huge experimental scale – the size of a small room – by my neighbour Alexander Stevenson. I didn’t have my camera with me, but if you look on his website you will see that he is really a performance artist. The print was an idea he had and is based on one of his wicker figures as similar to those on the website. It’s amazing!








Guild of Enamellers workshop at Conference 2015

This weekend I attended the Guild of Enamellers conference and AGM at Sparsholt College in Hampshire. Every year around 100 like-minded individuals with a passion for enamel meet up to listen to guest and member speakers talk about their work, watch a masterclass and attend a day workshop (from seven on offer). It’s always a great couple of days which is why people come back year after year.

The main reason I attend is to take part in the Saturday workshops. I always choose something that doesn’t involve enamelling if I can (which might sound a bit odd but I do enamel most days!) and this year chose and was lucky enough to get onto the Design course led by Sue Brown.

Here are just a few examples of her enamelled work:

Work by Sue Brown

Sue is a great teacher and uses enamel in a very unconventional way. She is a long established printmaker who discovered enamel whilst studying for an MA in Print at the University of the West of England (UWE) a few years ago. She is exhibited widely and has recently opened The Yard: ARTspace in Cheltenham where she does her printmaking and teaches classes. Her enamelling is done in her ‘shed’ just down the road at home.

Saturday’s course was about how to make a sketchbook less scary by adding textures to it and building up ideas through simple print techniques and paint effects. There was some looking and listening, but also a lot of fun and laughter.
The process of listening and learningWe started by using both gum arabic and acrylic paint to transfer images from black and white photocopies, grey scale photocopies and glossy Sunday supplement images. We used a combination of our images (if we’d brought the right sort!) and Sue’s own.
My print in progress

I was really pleased by the effects that could be achieved relatively easily and had fun placing the pieces on the paper. However, we weren’t finished yet and after applying acrylic paint and printing with textured wallpaper as well as applying washes of blue black ink our work filled the entire page of paper.

Here are some examples made by the class:

Work by others Maureen Carswell's sketchbook A lot of notes were taken Images by others

As you can see everyone had a very different style even though the colour palette and techniques were fairly uniform.

Sometimes we were impatient to get onto the next stage and employed the sun to help with the drying process. Here is my print towards the end of it’s journey drying out on a sunny windowsill.

My print drying in the sunshine

When we thought we were done Sue introduced bleach into the equation and, having used the right type of ink in the first place, it produced a lovely rust effect where it was applied.

Painting on the bleach

Finally, it was time to make our prints into something – a four page (eight sided) booklet.

Sue Brown showing us how to make a small book from our prints

And we were all delighted with the results!

Books made by class - mine's in the middle at the back

Mine is the one at the centre back.

Finished booklets - mine's at the back

I had a great time, learned many new techniques and will certainly be using some of them before the year is out.

As I said before, Sue was a great teacher and if you’re in or around The Yard:ARTspace in Cheltenham try to get onto one of her printmaking courses and I’m sure you’ll have as much fun as I did. Her blog is great too!

Of course, the conference is not just about the workshops and there were some great talks this year.

The first of this year’s talks was by Elizabeth Jane Campbell, the Guild’s 2014 bursary winner and a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art’s BA(Hons) Jewellery and Silversmithing class of 2013. Her work combines ceramic, metal and enamel and she has pioneered a technique that involves the hand carving of ceramic before applying vitreous enamel. Her talk was lively, fun and very articulate describing the journey of her creative career.

Another talk was by gifted and renowned enameller, jeweller and silversmith Tamar de Vries Winter which was a very personal description of her work linking her own past and family in Jerusalem with a talk entitled Images of War and Peace talking about her peace badge project and her recent Memory Bowls.

Finally, we were treated to a master class by Gille Hoyte Byrom on painting enamel. It was a chance to get tips. It fired up a lot of people up have a g, though it also frightened some because of the skill she possessed which was particularly well illustrated by her group of Elizabethan inspired miniatures.

All in all, there was a lot of conversation, play and learning and it was certainly a weekend well spent.

New studio space

It’s been a long time coming and I’ve been reluctant, but I’ve finally said goodbye to keeping my main practice in a room in my house

J Partington - studio x30

I’ve loved working from home – it keeps you connected to what is going on with the family and enabled me to do lots of different things all the time – juggling work and home life. However, it also meant that I was able to work all night if I wanted to. This may sound ideal and my reluctance to move is because, in many ways, it is, but there is only so long you can take over every room of your house with your business before the family rebels. Also, after becoming very unwell with extreme exhaustion at the end of last year something had to give. This move is meant to be the start of a new phase of my life.

So, it was goodbye to enamelling at home this week. Monday was my last day. I’ll still be mounting my panels in my home studio and packing and doing all the paperwork there, but the painting of frames and the enamelling will be done somewhere else.

I joined BV Studios a couple of years ago taking a desk space in a shared studio room. I got the space to give me somewhere to work with paper, but in the end I found working creatively with a lot of people around me very intimidating and didn’t use the space much at all. (I’ll have to overcome this from September though as I will be starting a part-time MA in Design at UWE, Bristol – more about this in a future blog.) By chance, at the right time, in September 2014 a large basement room came available and I decided to take it with a view to doing more work there, and I’d have it all to myself. Almost immediately I moved the painting of my frames and blocks to the basement studio and it transformed the number of pieces I could paint in a sitting due to the vast amount of space to lay things out in.

Painting space in my new studio

Now I have finally installed my kiln and yesterday after a couple of days of moving and tidying (though there’s still more to do!) I did my first enamelling.

New studio  April 2015

It’s going to be a big change for me – change of hours, change of practice, but I’m feeling good about it now its done. I’m never good with change – moving the kiln in our car on Tuesday morning was the last act if performed for us – we said goodbye to our old Bristol Blue Doblo and said hello to our new one the same afternoon. Again I was reluctant about the change – the old blue Doblo had been to all my shows with me, been overloaded with mdf almost daily for over 10 years, but it was starting to become more unreliable. The new car is again a Doblo, but a nearly new one and has more mod cons like electric rear windows (wow!!!), but it is also a semi-automatic which is very scary to me who doesn’t like change, but I have driven it now and I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

bvstudios 2015 open studios invite

My new studio is going to be open as part of BV Open Studios on Friday 24 April from 6-9pm, Saturday 25 April 11am-6pm and Sunday 26 April 11am-6pm. Do come along and see the studios and work of over 120 creative people in 35 units over 4 levels under one roof – that’s 30,000 sq ft to explore! It’s at 37 Philip Street, Bedminster, BS3 4EA. Visit www.bvstudios.co.uk to find out more. I’m in B3 and I will be around the whole weekend – you might even catch me doing a bit of enamelling, and I’ll have experimental paper cuts on show too.

Devon Guild of Craftsmen – Re-Making the Past and Top Notch

Another Devon Guild Board meeting, another opportunity for me to visit Bovey Tracey and see a new exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

Re-Making the Past – 6 makers respond to Pre-history is an exhibition that runs until Sunday 10 May 2015 in the Jubilee Gallery. It is described by the gallery as:

“Sculptural objects by artists who share a common fascination with the ancient past. Bronze Age artefacts and Neolithic sites inspire contemporary work in natural fibres, metal, resin and ceramics along with wall based installations in enamels, glass and textiles. Together these objects forge links across craft and history, visual arts and archaeology.”

General view of Re-making the Past exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen

In the image above you can see part of a work called ‘Odyssey’ by Wright and Teague (22 ct gold on sycamore (not in pic), aluminium, fragranced wax). In the background to the left you can see work by Mary Butcher and on the wall work by Helen Marton.

Far Distant Close To by Susan Kinley

This above work by Susan Kinley entitled ‘Far Distant, Close To’ (laser cut steel, hand screen printed and fired photographic images, vitreous enamels) is one of a series of works responding to Bronze Age and Neolithic sites in Orkney. It maps minute lichen shapes found on many Bronze Age monuments.

Sight over Time by Helen Marton

‘Sight over Time’ by Helen Marton (digitally printed cotton, gabbroic clay scan) is a playful take on the brief and certainly catches the eye as you walk into the gallery.

Droppped by Syann van Niftrik

‘Droppped – History in the Breaking’ (digital media, clay, oxide, glue) by Syann van Niftrik is the result of a collaboration and was made up of the piece shown above and a film which shows the pot being pieced together and addresses the idea of the archaeologist becoming the artist during the restoration.

Supporting this exhibition are several events, some of which have passed, but still to come is a Family Drop in Day on Wednesday 1 April including workshops by Susan Kinley and Helen Marton. There is also a chance to visit the Bronze Age landscape of Dartmoor with an archaeologist and the artists from the exhibition. Dartmoor Field Trip: A Different View Point – Art, craft and archaeology takes place on Saturday 18 April 2015 10-5. Booking is essential so telephone the Devon Guild on 01626 832223 to find out more and make a booking. For more details www.crafts.org.uk/current-exhibition.aspx and click on links.

Also on, for a limited time only until 12 April is Top Notch in the Riverside Gallery. This shop display puts a spotlight on fine contemporary furniture and interior pieces by member and guest makers. There are quite a few furniture maker members of the Guild, but furniture takes up a lot of space and so it is not always possible to show a big selection of work, Top Notch goes a little way to addressing this.

Top Notch furniture and accessories spotlight display

This general view of the display shows a bench by Christian O’Reilly in the foreground and a hanging by Etka Kaul on the wall.

Featured in the exhibition is work by James Morton Evans, Fabrizia Bazzo, Angela Holmes, Etka Kaul, Sarah Morris, Christian O’Reilly, John Neusinger, Terry Sawle, Priscilla Trenchard, Sam Walsh, Edward Wild and Jenny Wilkinson.

Lounge chair by Edward Wild

This lounge chair is made by Devon-based furniture designer/maker Edward Wild and is made from American walnut.

Sheep footstools by John Neusinger

These footstools by John Neusinger certainly make a playful statement.

Exhibitions and are displays are always changing at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, so don’t just visit once a year or you might miss out!




Loving Yellow

I really love yellow and so I’ve been trying to use it more in my work. My Monochrome Series has been getting less monochrome lately – I have been adding designs that include red over the last twelve months and more recently yellow. These two designs in my small size (7.6×7.6cm panels on 15x15cm frames – cost £45) are already on my website,



but this week I designed a few more (also in the small size).





I’ve sent some of these designs out this week to New Brewery Arts in Cirencester and The Craft Centre and Design Gallery in Leeds. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone likes them as much as I do.