In defense of buskers!

Hello dear readers,

We have 2017 already and first post of the year is actually an open letter. Rita and I would like to say a few paragraphs in defense of buskers and street artists. What`s the story (morning glory) you may ask? Well, Worcester City Council decided to crack down on performers in the city and make their lives more difficult than it is really needed.

Our local daily Worcester News ran the new cultural policy on the front page this morning. First day after Christmas break, we were happily about to deal with our office backlog and then – bang! Who needs coffee if you have news like this.

You can read the story here

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/14993207.Busking_crackdown_to_be_launched_in_Worcester_city_centre/

or enjoy the scans we did so the generations to come can face palm in sheer despair:

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017 Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017
Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 - the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 – the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

We have no idea why culture and arts are under constant attack in West Midlands. Sometimes, it does feel like living out New Model Army`s Small Town England.  But onto the meritum.

The letter below has been sent to Worcester News as our reply to the Council policy, but we decided to also publish it on the blog.

Read on and as Sepultura used to say: Refuse/Resist.

*********************

Dear Worcester News (and Dear Worcester City Council, if you happen to read it – but we do not raise our hopes up)

We are writing this letter in response to the proposed regulation of busking in Worcester. We would love to see said document in full to be able to read into it. Unfortunately it seems, the draft is not available online for the public to see. However points mentioned in Worcester News raise several alarms and we would like to tackle them one by one.

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Before we do it, allow us to quote some data regarding music and creative industries in the UK, as it is essential. According to MusicWeek magazine and Measuring Music 2016 report, music added £4.1 billion to the economy in 2015. Despite problems, the industry was rising 90% in the last 4 years. GVA (gross value added) for the industry was 17%, outgrowing other branches of British economy by 11%.

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that music consumption rose 1,5% to 123 million album sales in 2016. 45 billions streams (including 1 billion streams in December 2016 alone), 3.2 million units of vinyl sold. British acts such as Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne, The Rolling Stones and Skepta dominated charts this year. All in all – this is a booming business.

But that’s just one side of 2016. Last year we have lost a generation of  musical icons (David Bowie, Prince, George Michael just to name a few) and independent artists (Viola Beach), many small venues and clubs have been closed (40% of small venues had shut doors in the last decade).

Where does that leave us? A booming business with no big stars but many smaller artists who are trying to compete on the field but have no places to perform.  Enter busking.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Playing in the streets is not a new phenomena. Every artist started out in this manner (even the biggest names), but these days people will see much more buskers than before. Kids getting experience is one explanation, lack of venues is another, access to the public is a third but not a final answer. There are many more reasons why we see an artist performing on every corner. We may like it or not, busking is growing and is becoming not only a chosen way of artistic expression but an important branch of the industry.
There is nothing wrong with regulating busking within the city. London did it and their code is fantastic and user friendly.  Tenbury Wells did it.  Even Transport for London has their own busking scene and licenses. A whole range of tools has been employed by different localities (artists are encouraged to use smaller amps to avoid high levels of noise, special spaces are designed for artists, buskers are required to have public liability cover, curfews are established to ensure that nobody plays at night) and they are working.  Whoever been to London`s Oxford Street and seen iconic TommyAndMary duo perform their punk rock set will admit that even the loudest music can be incorporated into city life with relatively no side effects. If Worcester City Council wanted to draw inspiration for their own regulation, there are many templates ready to use.

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

However we have our doubts that Worcester City Council wants to regulate busking. It seems like the only agenda behind this regulation is to  eliminate artists in general by making their street performance so hard that they will simply give it up.

Let`s have a look at some of the proposals drafted:

–    No buskers within 50 meters from each other – Worcester on a daily basis is much quieter than other cities. On average we will have two buskers performing at the same time. Even during festivals and carnivals, we can hardly see artists being that close to each other. We can honestly think of 5 spots around the city where buskers play (most common will be in front of Debenhams).  This seems to be a non issue – as we don’t see Worcester becoming Glasto of busking anytime soon.

–    No busking between 9 pm and 8 am – that seems to be fair point and we dont have arguments with keeping a night time peace at all. We had to slightly adjust this part of the blog post as the fantastic Collective 43 pointed out that during Christmas Fayre, they played late slot until 8:45 pm (we checked metadata on the pic and it corresponds). Originally, we thought it was later than that! We truly hope that some exceptions will be however made for carnivals and festivals anyway in the draft, especially in summer when days are longer and music can flow a bit more. Being on the town on Friday night can be a good testament to the fact that many pubs or clubs are much more louder past 9 pm than a person with a guitar and an amp. Also, please note that entertainment part for Christmas Lights Switch On started last year so early (before 5 pm) that most people had to miss it. Music can`t last too long  that is obvious but it cannot start too early- otherwise who will have time to come and see the event?

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

–    Bans on any sign inviting people to pay money – London Busking Code has this as a rule: “Busking shouldn’t be confused with begging. Buskers put a lot of effort into their act, give a performance and entertain the public”. We are not sure if Worcester City Council has our local artists for beggars or if they have been deceived on the sizes of signs that artists use. Most of them have a hand-made note with their name. Some performers,  like Bristol based Saskia Griffiths-Moore who visited Worcester in September 2016 had a small sign telling people that she was fully independent artist funded by sales of her CDs. Ban on signs is being enforced only in Worcester and seems harmful, if not perverse.  Another point is that Councillors should really peek into the bowls and hats of buskers if they have a chance. They will not see big fortunes unfortunately. This part of the draft should be dropped and forgotten. The fastest, the better.

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

–    Maximum performance of 45 minutes afterwards artist must leave the area for 2 hours – this rule has only one explanation. To limit performance of musicians as much as possible and to make Worcester even more quiet than it is. Did we forget that Worcester is a market town? By definition it should be lively, bubbly and full of sounds. Worcester is visited by artists from many cities: Birmingham (like Obi Rudo – Belgian/Congolese rapper who calls UK his home) or Bristol (Saskia or Shemakeswar or Rita Lynch) or Oxford (B-Sydes) or even Cardiff.  If an artist is traveling for few hours by train to reach us, why limit them to 45 minutes of performance? Can`t we give them at least one hour? And with so little of good busking spots, and little revenue they get – do we think it will be profitable for artists to visit Worcester? They will just skip us and make us all culturally poorer.

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist - Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist – Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

–    An agreement to stop performing  on a request by police, Council workers etc. – So not even 45 minutes is guaranteed.  Because it seems that so many people will have the power to silence artists, it won`t be even possible to play a few songs. Nothing short of censorship in our book. But who needs artists and culture anyway? We have a statue of Elgar on High Street.

–    Complaints from shop owners about the noise – We can`t speak about every shop keeper in town but there seems to be a good relationship between artists and shop/stall owners. CrownGate has a small scene in the middle of their shopping arcade where artists can perform. We have spoken to many buskers and people who listen to street music in the past year and there was only one instance of loud music being complained about (the performer was a dancer and not a musician). Can we know how many complaints about buskers were lodged with the Council in the last year? In summer Worcester welcomed a whole brass band Gugge 2000. They were ace but very loud. Our ears were ringing for two days and it was fine.

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

We love music and had a chance to see not only fantastic local artists (Amie, Stolen Chocolates, Ken Pollock, Neil Ivison, The Fidgets, Jodie Hughes) but respected artists as well (Nigel Clark of Dodgy, Rita Lynch) perform in town. Some of the artists were busking. We acquired a handful of signed CDs. Seen breathtaking art (Richard Price and his paintings, tightrope walker who played a violin). We enjoyed each and every of the performances. We spent countless hours to promote those artists online as well, to put Worcester on a music map. We don’t understand why Council is trying to discourage art and music, instead of supporting it.

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

There`s so much to be done:

–     On 23 July 2016 London celebrated International Busking Day. 36 cities across UK joined the initiative, additional 100 around the world. But not Worcester. Why not?

–    At the end of January we celebrate Independent Venue Week – seven days of concerts to raise awareness of importance of small venues where artists can play. Worcester is only represented by The Marrs Barr. Is that all we can do?

–    We have The Fidgets – one of the most unique bands on the scene as we speak.  A group that continues the tradition of pure rock mixed with acoustic harmonies. The last band that played this way was Cast and that was 90s. The Fidgets have been on BBC Introducing. They busk around and build their own  fanbase. We wonder if Worcester City Council realizes the potential and opportunities being born from supporting local artists. 1 in every 100 jobs in Liverpool was created by The Beatles. Manchester has Oasis. We are not worse in this regard, we have our own local scene bursting with talent.

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

–    We won`t mention upcoming artists like Ewan Pollock, Jodie Hughes, Poppy WS or The Jevs – huge talents in their own right, just need some investment. Why can`t we have grants or stipends for artists like them?

–    Busking is not easy. Standing with a guitar in front of the public is one of the bravest acts an artist can do. Sometimes our artists are verbally harassed. We need designed spots where buskers can feel safe and where they can perform. Not the other way around.

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

–    Our buskers were freezing while playing during Victorian Fayre in 2016.  Is it really that much to offer them a complimentary tea or a sandwich for entertaining crowds? We are sure it wouldn’t cost a fortune.

–    We have Worcester Music Festival but some genres of music and possible venues are not considered. Not one concert for classical music was organized. St Helen`s Church (which can be a good venue) was standing empty. We would imagine that Council would be co-ordinating or at least contributing towards such initiatives.

We hope our letter won`t be seen as too critical. We are all for regulation but let`s regulate things in a safer, friendlier and  constructive way. Music and art have been bringing huge amounts of revenues and recognition to United Kingdom for decades, but to continue we must invest in them.

Kind regards,
Malicia & Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue

Some links to buck up claims in our letter:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38487837
http://www.musicweek.com/talent/read/music-makes-4-1-billion-contribution-to-uk-economy-in-2015-report/065919
https://www.bpi.co.uk/home/bpi-official-uk-recorded-music-market-report-for-2016.aspx
http://buskinlondon.com/code
https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/busking
http://buskinlondon.com/internationalbuskingday

All images taken by us albeit with a mobile phone. Pardon the quality.

*****************************

We will keep you posted once we hear more about this killer cultural procedure.

m/r

********* Update 04/01/2017************

Hello Dear Readers,

An update to our open letter – because we managed to gather more information.

When Worcester News broke the story yesterday, a great thing has happened. People came out and voiced their admiration for buskers and street artists. The story on Facebook had over 200 comments, many of them mentioning  our leading band in town – The Fidgets. It was fantastic to read the praises – we can only hope that there`s no doubt right now what a treasure and ray of joy The Fidgets really are.

Online comments regarding Worcester best band - The Fidgets - http://www.thefidgets.com/

Online comments regarding Worcester best band – The Fidgets – http://www.thefidgets.com/

Many people – like us – were upset because we were trying to find out the text of buskers code in Worcester and nothing was available. Not on the City Council web site or anywhere else. If one had persistence – after hours of pestering  Uncle Google, you could find these and they are not a joy to read.

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

It  seems to be a very old (decade old?) code of buskers used by Worcester City Council. The trouble with such finds is very simple. Undated documents  may be old, and  if they are not specific means they can be interpreted in many ways. That is why laws  or codes or T&C usually have to be very precise to be functioning.

The source link is this one

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/51281470/to-download-busking-in-worcester-code-of-practicepdf

Having just one source is not enough. To fully understand what changes are made we still needed the new code for comparison.

So when we went to bed, we were confused just like everybody else.

Thankfully today Worcester City Council stepped up to the task and provided a blog throwing a lot of light on the situation.

You can read it here – it contains the proposed new code and as you can see it is rather user friendly and longish and detailed.  Hear that sound – it’s a collective sigh of relief coming from everyone at Vanadian Avenue.

http://www.worcester.gov.uk/news-alerts/-/blogs/voluntary-busking-code-aims-for-a-lively-city-centre

We had a chat on Twitter with the Councils and we were provided with additional links. The new updated code for buskers was initiated in November 2016 and  is being prepared with Worcester BID and Keep Streets Live! Initiative (http://keepstreetslive.com/)

Please read the links below and if you are a busker or a local musicians, please get in touch and let City Council know what you think of the proposal:

http://committee.cityofworcester.gov.uk/documents/s37564/STREET/PERFORMANCES/CODE/Nov2016.pdf

http://committee.cityofworcester.gov.uk/documents/s37563/buskers/report203.pdf

That’s all for now folks,

M/R

Preperation before the Art in County Hall exhibition

Hello! Hello!

The preparations for “Art in Country Hall” exhibitions are now completed! The glass cabinets have been properly cleaned and polished, the artworks are now  perfectly displayed and everything is ready for the big day! The opening will take place on Friday, the 20th of May at 17:00 pm and the exhibition will be open every working day for the next 8-10 weeks.

Art in County Hall is a joint exhibition bringing several talented artists from Worcestershire together. Rita’s artwork will be displayed in two gabinets in front of the Council Chamber, while the artworks made by The Garage Art Group from Evesham will be proudly displayed on the walls.  Garage Art Group has just celebrated 20 years of promoting health and well being through the mediums of painting, drawing, textile and other visual arts. If you’d like to learn more about this fantastic charity organization, please visit their official websites:

Garage Art Group - biography

Garage Art Group – biography

Homepage: http://www.garageartgroup.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garageartgroup/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/garageartgroup

Address:  Vale Art Studio, 4/4a Crown Court Yard, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 4RY.
Contact: Pam White (CEO) on 01386 423245 or 07933512210
Email: garageartgroup@live.co.uk

Garage Art Group - exhibit #1

Garage Art Group – exhibit #1

Garage Art Group - exhibit #2

Garage Art Group – exhibit #2

Garage Art Group - exhibit #3

Garage Art Group – exhibit #3

Garage Art Group - exhibit #4

Garage Art Group – exhibit #4

Garage Art Group - exhibit #5

Garage Art Group – exhibit #5

Garage Art Group - exhibit #6

Garage Art Group – exhibit #6

Garage Art Group - full installation

Garage Art Group – full installation

Another artist showcasing his excellent works alongside Rita and the Garage Art Group is Mark Hilsden. Mark has been painting for many years and is very well known in Worcester art circles. He specializes in painting landscapes (especially forest and the sea) but architecture and portraits are also his strong points. Marks artworks are in many private collections including Europe and Australia. He encourages everybody to follow their passion and dare to dream.

Mark Hilsden - picture #1

Mark Hilsden – picture #1

Mark Hilsden - picture #2

Mark Hilsden – picture #2

Mark Hilsden - picture #3

Mark Hilsden – picture #3

Mark Hilsden - picture #4

Mark Hilsden – picture #4

Mark Hilsden - picture #5

Mark Hilsden – picture #5

Mark Hilsden - picture #6

Mark Hilsden – picture #6

Mark is open to commissions, so if you’d like to have your special picture painted, please contact him directly at:

Official website: http://markhilsden.com/
Marks bio: http://artymark.faso.com/page/8606/media-pack-artists-bio-and-cv
Commission guidelines: http://artymark.faso.com/page/7692/commissions
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/artistmarkhilsden/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/markhilsden

We are very excited to work with so many talented individuals and grateful for having an opportunity to showcase our work to a huge number of visitors. Did you know that County Hall is visited by hundreds of people each week? It is a very busy place and hopefully it will help Worcestershire based artists reach a wider audience.

At the opening, you will have a chance to learn more about Rita and her work. Malicia was very kind to pen a truly professional bio for her and she is very  happy to share it with you all:

Rita’s bio:

Rita Dabrowicz (born October 1979) is a Polish artist currently living and working in Worcester. Although showing interests in art from an early age, she began to exhibit her works publicly during university years after being inspired by abstract artists such as Jackson Pollack and John Squire. Today, Rita works with several different mediums, ranging from paints (oils, acrylics, watercolours, inks), pencils, clay, pottery and ceramics. She is also an apt craft person using upcycling technique to create paper artworks, cards and decorated items like notebooks or book marks for her own “Cat Shop Décor”. She exhibited in her native Poland and in Malta (taking part in Earth Garden Festival five years in a row, twice at Notte Bianca in Valletta and being featured at Malta Artisan Markets).

Outside of her own artistic endeavours, Rita organizes cultural events and promotes other artists though her blog and social media. Teaming up with her sister under the moniker “Vanadian Avenue”, she organized a series of six exhibitions of local artists in Poland and drawing workshops (between 2000 and 2004) and was responsible for bringing prestigious World Press Photo exhibition to Malta in 2007. She was also a member of Silesian Fantasy Club in Poland for which she co-organized a series of conventions dedicated to Japanese comics, art and culture. She worked as cultural journalists for four years and specialized in female comics and presentation of women in pop culture. Three times she took part in Work Camp initiative to help organize Roskilde Festival in Denmark (2003, 2004, 2007).

Rita enjoys music, travels, photography and Japanese culture.
She can be reached via her blog: www.cocamidemea.wordpress.com or her Facebook shop page www.facebook.com/thecatshopdecor

Rita biography

Rita biography

To please the art loving people of Worcester, we prepared three installations. Below, you can find  pictures and short descriptions:

01. The Celestial Theatre installation

Inspired by Japanese traditional Noh dance theatre, this project links human emotions, superstitions with legends and beliefs that are written among the stars and planets. Each masks represent different omote, mask used during the performances. There are 450 different masks in Noh based on sixty types of characters. Rita’s masks are named after six legendary (yet non-existent) planets that influence us and the planet Earth.

Content of glass cabinet #1

Content of glass cabinet #1

Masks and Orbs

Masks and Orbs

Set of masks

Set of masks

Antichthon (Ἀντίχθων) known as The Counter- Earth. Mysterious twin-planet to Earth hidden from our view. It represents mystery, deceitfulness but also protection and bravery. Appeared for the first time in the writings or Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus. Price: £30

Antichthon Mask

Antichthon Mask

Hercolubus also known as the Red Planet. Mythical future destructor of Earth symbolizes power and vitality. Became wildly popular in Latin America thanks to the writings of Colombian author V.M. Rabolu (Joaquin Enrique Amortegui Valbuena, 1926-2000). Price: £30

Herocolubus Mask

Herocolubus Mask

Kolob also known as The Governing One. A star or a planet mentioned in the Mormon’s “Book of Abraham”, it symbolizes greatness, patience and superiority. According to the text, Kolob is the heavenly body nearest to the throne of God. Price: £30

Kolob Mask

Kolob Mask

Nibiru also known as The Crossing Star or The Point of Transition is an ancient Babylonian term of the equinox and its associated astronomical objects. It is also the name of wildly popular “Planet X” that will bring destruction to Earth. The original concept symbolizes tranquillity, serenity and peace. Price: £30

Nibiru Mask

Nibiru Mask

Vulcan also known as the Tenth Planet, is the hypothetical planet in the Milky Way, located somewhere between Mercury and the Sun. The hypothesis for its existence has been formulated by Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (1811 –1877) French mathematician specializing in celestial mechanics. It represents strong mind and mathematical skills but also the physical power. Sadly such planet still hasn’t been found but the concept became popular in 1950’s in America and the planet gave its name to the famous alien race in Star Trek TV series franchise. Price: £40

Vulcan Mask

Vulcan Mask

Serpo also known as Serponia or Seinu is a hypothetical alien planet very popular among American conspiracy theories, UFOs, and faster-than-light travel enthusiasts. According to the urban legends, American government signed a top-secret scientific exchange programs with the planet that still goes on since early 1940’s. Serpo has been mentioned in the original X-Files TV series and represents wit, science but also secrecy. Price: £30

Serpo Mask

Serpo Mask

02. Planet Caravan installation

The Planet Caravan installation has been prepared for Earth Garden in 2011. You can read detailed description about each of the 6 orbs here: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/planet-caravan/

The Orb set

The Orb set

The orbs were priced as follows:

Starlight – The Blue Or
Price: £15

The Orb: Starlight

The Orb: Starlight

Twilight – The Violet ORB
Price: £15

The Orb: Twilight

The Orb: Twilight

Broadlight – The Yellow ORB
Price: £15

The Orb: Broadlight

The Orb: Broadlight

Sunlight – The Golden ORB
Price: £15

The Orb: Sunlight

The Orb: Sunlight

Daylight – The Red ORB
Price: £15

The Orb: Daylight

The Orb: Daylight

Additionally, Rita has decided to add three new items to the installation as they were also linked to the general “water” theme:

Two Water dishes

Water dishes

Water dishes

Two water dishes that can store rain water. The blue one is made from recyclable glass, the red one is made from recyclable plastic. Their legs are made from glass beads, the by-product of glass making that can be used for decorative purposes. Both are hand painted with abstract cat details. Can be used as soap or candle holders.
Price: £10 each or £20 for a pair

The DISC

The Disc

The Disc

Mixed media on plastic. The DISC has two sides – the Light Side and The Dark Side (as visible here). It symbolizes both; the Earth and The Moon as both are described having the light and the dark sides. Maybe it represents us all as well? There is light and darkness in all of us.
Price: £15

The Dream Catcher

The Dream Catcher

The Dream Catcher

Rita’s description for this strange sculpture reads: “Made entirely from natural materials: dry leaves, wooden spheres and long green painted grass. What you cannot see is the inside of the biggest sphere: there are several plastic beads that move when the Dream Catcher is rotating. Imagine you are a Dream champion, somebody who can travel through people’s dreams. You would need some kind of device to enter the Dreamscape. It also shows you the good and the bad dreams people are having. It is very useful – did I mention that it can make anyone fall asleep at once?” Price: £20

03. Zodiak

Zodiak is the biggest abstract art series that Rita has ever done. It was prepared in collaboration with British artist Matt Griffiths (sketches) and took nearly half a year to prepare. 12 pictures were displayed for the first time in the Messina Palace in Valetta as part of Notte Biance celebration in 2011.  The exhibition entitled “Astral Room” was big success. One of the artworks has been purchased to a private collection by member of the German-Maltese Circle.

Zodiac - part one

Zodiac – part one

Zodiac -part two

Zodiac -part two

We  have extensively covered the preparations and the exhibition previously on our blog. Please take a look at the entries below to  see detailed information about each picture and high  res images, taken by Malicia:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/zodiak-part-1/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/zodiak-part-2/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/zodiak-part-3/

Each of the 11 remaining Zodiak signs were priced at £45. Sign descriptions were laminated and presented for the  members of the public to read.

Description of each Zodiac painting

Description of each Zodiac painting

To raise the number of exhibited artworks to 12, Rita decided to add  smaller abstract piece entitled “The Rain Maker”. It has been inspired by Kate Bush song entitled “Cloudbusting”, the second single from 1985’s album “Hounds of Love”.

The Rain Maker

The Rain Maker

Acrylics and mixed media on canvas.
The artwork is professionally framed and signed by the author.
Price: £30

It’s been a very long day for us as the preparations took several hours to be completed. Please visit us tomorrow at 5 pm. Refreshments and finger food will be provided.

Hope to see you all tomorrow evening. Friday night is perfect for art,  remember that!
xxx
Rita and Mal

Art at County Hall

Dear readers,

Art at County Hall project logo

Art at County Hall project logo

Its mid-May already and in just few days Rita will have her artworks exhibited at Worcestershire County Hall, being a part of Art in County Hall project that showcases local artists  to general public at the picturesque local government building. Art in County Hall is an impressive project – bringing together unusual space and artists that make the Worcester scene a vibrant one. Rita cannot be more proud to be participating. We will make few posts about the project naturally as we want to show you the space and the exhibition itself.

We will start off with The County Hall itself as we love the building and how it works. It is an absolute gem and the surrounding grounds/public park are worth visiting as well. There will be many pictures in this post as we tried to show you the space from every angle. But if you prefer a bit of reading, you won’t be disappointed. We had a visit to the Worcestershire County Archives and they found us an article from 1990 about the building and how it was designed. Fascinating reading it is.

Plus usual links, dates, maps and directions – one happy package.

So let us begin:

County Hall

Entrance

Entrance

Heart of the campus

Heart of the campus

The home of Worcestershire County Council is one of few public buildings in this part of the UK representing brutalist architecture (think Barbican Centre in London for comparison). It was designed for short-lived Hereford and Worcester County Council and located at the semi-rural “E Edge” of the Worcestershire.

Although the building itself was completed between 1974-1978 under the careful eye of its architect – Robert Matthew of Johnson – Marshall & Partners,  the plans for the complex were ready as early as 1972.

View of the Registrar Office

View of the Registrar Office

One of two "wings" or "houses" of the building

One of two “wings” or “houses” of the building

The Hall became house for Worcestershire County when Hereford and Worcester County Council ceased to exist in 1998. Built in red and brown brick, The County Hall was opened for further expansions (which ultimately did not happen if you don’t count few annexes like boiler room) and was considered both innovative and surprisingly ecological for its era.

How brilliant the design was for late 70s – you can tell from good practice case study quoted below. We have to admit, we were impressed by the amount of work put into the concept! It is a very early model of an “intelligent building” making use of solar energy depending on the season and turning elements of the façade into blind shades.  Outworldy, genius and futuristic in the same time.  It is like architectural version of a Doctor Who episode!

 Energy_Efficiency_Hereford_Worcester_County_Hall_1990

County Hall building consists of three connected parts:

  • “Central Section” includes reception, IT help desk, public areas, meeting rooms and Riverside Café open for visitors and staff.
  • “Two wings” or “Houses” include offices, Registrar’s Office, offices of main political parties, gallery passage and the Council Chamber.
The building seen from the side

The building seen from the side

Cantena Terrace

Cantena Terrace

Shades and columns - beautiful details

Shades and columns – beautiful details

County Hall grew very quickly after its inception. Since 1977, many of the buildings owned by Council in the centre of Worcester have been vacated and the staff moved to County Hall campus. In 1985 the Record Office moved to a purpose-built building added to the site.

Today the main campus includes The Hall itself, Record Office annex, eight car parks (682 spaces for County workers and another 96 reserved spaces), boiler room, a bus stop, large public grounds/park and a lake. It is a site for over 3000 workers daily.

The Garden

The Garden

The second "house"

The second “house”

The campus boarders Worcester Woods Country Park and the grounds are home for multiple wild animals (hares, squirrels, badgers, terrapin turtles) and birds (swans, crows, robins, wild ducks, seagulls and even herons). We will not count the amount of species of flowers and trees – but thanks to its unique ecological value, the campus is often referred to as “Worcester lungs”.

Notice about wild life

Notice about wild life

The lake

The lake

The grounds are very well preserved and offer many surprising features, beyond the lake. If someone was to take a stroll around the area – they would encounter jogging paths, a big fountain (called The Flat Fountain by locals), a pond with a brick bridge,  a herb and flower garden and a huge weeping willow.

Pond and the bridge

Pond and the bridge

The solitary Weeping Willow

The solitary Weeping Willow

The Flat Fountain

The Flat Fountain

Public path

Public path

You can also find many sculptures scattered among the campus: dancers, capoeira  fighters and even a heron eating a fish.

The Dancers

The Dancers

Capoeira Fighters

Capoeira Fighters

Heron sculpture

Heron sculpture

Heron sculpture again and artificial pond with a bridge

Heron sculpture again and artificial pond with a bridge

Being an important business and public place, County Hall has an easy access from city center and from the nearest highway network (M5). You can see the directions from the attached leaflet.

County_Hall_How_to_get_there

And once you arrive on site,  you can use the following map of the campus

Map_County_Hall

If you are still not fully convinced that County Hall campus is one green and living organism, please have a look at the panoramas we had done. They may convince you that Worcestershire has one of the best landscaped sites in the United Kingdom and its County Hall deserves at least a Grade II of protection.

Panorama #1

Panorama #1

Panorama #2

Panorama #2

Panorama #3

Panorama #3

Panorama #4

Panorama #4

The Gallery at County Hall

Gallery at County Hall is formed by large circular public space outside of The Council Chamber.  The Gallery passage contains three large wall spaces each being 7 meters wide and 3 meters high.  There are also two cabinets approximately 6ft high by two feet which can exhibit 3D work.

Art in County Hall ad

Art in County Hall ad

Glass cabinet

Glass cabinet

This space is recently being used to host art exhibitions promoting local artists and showcasing works from students of a nearby University of Worcester under the Art in County Hall. We cannot offer you a virtual tour of the place but we can surely show you a 360 degrees view via images.

Entrance to Gallery Passage

Entrance to Gallery Passage

Both Rita and I believe that Art in County Hall project offers a lot of potential. Just think, County Council is Worcestershire biggest employer, with over 5000 employees. Nearly 3000 people are present daily at the site. That is a large crowd of those potentially interested in art and a good public for upcoming local artists. Moreover County Hall acts as a hub for business meetings, political parties, it is so to say – the headquarters for the councillors. By its very nature it brings together business and funding and is a place where decisions (also about art) are being made.  Art and culture are hardly invited to such places of power, they usually remain in the galleries or  museums  which are not places where political decisions are forged. It kind of marginalizes art in a way.

Passage #1

Passage #1

Passage #2

Passage #2

At the County Hall the division is broken down – art is exhibited in the very heart of the building, for everybody to see. It is hard to pass it and not notice it. And once the art is noticed, it cannot be left out of the equation.  It becomes a part of the scene – not just a fancy background. Bringing together artists, businesses and local government can only create  a positive environment – a platform where a true discussion about the role of art in today`s society can begin. Simple, yet revolutionary idea.

Passage #3

Passage #3

Passage #4

Passage #4

Passage #5

Passage #5

There is also another dimension to the project. We often look up to fancy and very expensive centres –like Microsoft campus in Seattle or Googleplex (headquarters of Google) in California, with its smart buildings, environmental friendly surroundings and secretly wish  we had something similar in close proximity. We often  forget that we have fantastical sites near us, with unique buildings and public parks like the County Hall campus. Those places can be morphed into real epicentres for the community  with just a bit of love and creativity. And that is what art does the best.

We hope you enjoyed this small tour of the County Hall. We will now proceed  to pack the artworks into the suitcases – as tomorrow is a setting up day.

We will see you soon.
Mal& Rita

A call out to all Worcestershire artists

Dear fellow artists!

We don’t usually post things like this but this is a very special case. Worcester City Council posted an official call out to all artists who would like to design an installation that will be permanently displayed in the area of St John’s in the city. The project is worth 30.000 pounds and can bring fame and fortune to the lucky winner.

If you don’t live in Worcester, you can find more information about the call out on official pages of Worcestershire Arts Partnership that are also involved in the project:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Worcestershire-Arts-Partnership/321230657962937
http://worcsartspartnership.blogspot.co.uk/

Worcestershire Arts Partnership

More information about St John’s area can be found here: https://cocamidemea.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/st-johns-ca-appraisal.pdf

Interested? Please see the full memo below and send your applications! You may be the one they are looking for!

*************************************

Brief for Artist

Worcester City Council logo - "Civitas in bello et pace fidelis". A faithfull city - in peace and in war

Worcester City Council logo – “Civitas in bello et pace fidelis”. A faithfull city – in peace and in war

St.John’s, Worcester

  • Background

Worcester City Council are inviting applications from an artist or group of artists to deliver a concept, design and installation of public art funded through S106 developer contributions for the Sainsbury’s Swanpool Walk development in St. John’s, Worcester.

Swanpool Walk, Worcester WR2 4EL, UK

Swanpool Walk, Worcester WR2 4EL, UK

You can click on the picture below or copy the following address ino new bowster to see the exact location:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Swanpool+Walk,+Worcester+WR2+4EL,+UK/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x4870f095c0159c39:0x66509f99bf86ec8c?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj9zsPTrenLAhVpAZoKHc5qDnAQ8gEIGzAA

  • John’s location

St. John’s is a suburb of Worcester which lies to the west of the city. The name St. John’s is also used to refer to all of Worcester west of the River Severn including residential suburbs. The central part of St. John’s is a Conservation Area, designated because of its special architectural and historic interest. There are two parks in St. John’s, Pitmaston Park to the southwest and Cripplegate Park to the northeast. St. John’s is a historic settlement built upon pre-existing Saxon roads and has a varied historic environment which includes Roman enclosures and burials, medieval timber-framed buildings, sites of Civil War fighting, and former tanneries and malthouses. The area is rich in architectural and historic interest and the St. John’s Conservation Area includes 29 grade II listed buildings and one grade II* listed building.

Known locally as ‘the village in the city’, St. John’s contains many local independent shops including two butchers, a chemist, library, as well as a large Sainsbury’s and an adjacent sports centre. It also has a number of local pubs. Close to St. John’s are three primary schools and a secondary school. To the north of St. John’s is the University of Worcester St. John’s Campus.

  • Context

The selected artist(s) will work with officers and members from Worcester City Council, Worcestershire County Council and local community groups and schools to deliver a unique and interesting public art concept that will reflect and celebrate, in some way, the heritage of St. John’s, and which can act as a focal point in and around the area to create a sense of civic pride. Initial concepts are that the artwork will reflect and/or interpret the history, heritage and the present day of St. John’s through researched themes. Artists are asked to consider the themes of people and community, buildings and place, retail and leisure.

In particular the objectives are:

  • To create unique and distinctive artwork(s) that are of a high quality and design, are durable and easy to maintain, which integrate with the character of St. John’s and enhance the character of the St. John’s Conservation Area.
  • To create artwork that builds on the identity of St. John’s through its heritage in an innovative and engaging way, and is responsive to the local community.
  • Provides a focal point or series of focal points that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities, and seeks to involve all members of the local community and visitors.
  1. Location and scope for the work
  • The artist should be able to use outdoor, robust and user-friendly materials in an innovative and creative way and which require minimum maintenance.
  • The work should visually integrate with the character of St. John’s and capture the essence of the place, however there is scope for modern interpretation and materials which enhance and/or complement the historic environment.
  • There is scope for the artwork(s) to be located at various strategic locations in St. John’s and it is envisaged that there will be links to key sites including both parks.
  1. Role of the artist
  • Research the area and its residents to assess the scope of the commission.
  • Run workshops with local residents, community groups and schools to engage with ideas and identify community priorities.
  • Research ideas within the scope of suggested themes for the main artwork and justify location(s).
  • Design and make the artwork, transport and install the work.
  • Publicise the work and involve the local community at all key stages, including the unveiling.
  1. Budget

The fee for the work is capped at £30,000. This fee should cover all costs associated with the design process, local research and workshops, materials, fabrication, transport and installation.

  1. Target audience

It is important that this project engages with and subsequently reaches as much of the local  community as possible, covering a wide demographic.
The aspiration is to encourage a wide range of people from the area to talk about and visit St. John’s and the artwork and be proud of the history and heritage of their community.

  1. Selection process

This opportunity is being advertised both locally and nationally. Artists will be selected on the following criteria:

  • Quality of work and enthusiasm for this project.
  • Ability to meet the brief within budget and show value for money.
  • Proven experience of being able to produce commissions and delivering them to set deadlines.
  • Proven ability to collaborate with a range of professionals.
  • Proven ability to successfully engage with local communities and target audiences and an awareness of the social impact and accessibility of their work, both physically and intellectually.
  • Show an awareness of the local area and be able to relate their work to the St. Johns area and the themes expressed for interpretation.

Artists are asked to provide an expression of interest in the first instance. No designs are required at this stage, but images of at least three examples of previous work and references from two previous commissioners must be supplied, along with an outline approach to the design process. Evidence of insurance (minimum £5 million public liability and £1 million professional indemnity) is also required, and artists must hold a current DBS check.

Expressions of interest should be submitted electronically to Julie Lynn, Worcester City Council julie.lynn@worcester.gov.uk by midnight on 3 April 2016.

The Subject bar should contain the title: St. John’s Worcester ARTIST SUBMISSION

There will be a shortlisting exercise from the expression of interest. Those shortlisted will be asked to attend an orientation session on 13th April 2016, to include visits to potential locations for artwork, and provide outline designs by 30th April 2016. Design proposals should also include how the artist would approach community engagement within their proposal.

Schedule

1 Brief advertised March 2016
2 Deadline for expressions of interest 3 April 2016
3 First stage sifting of expressions of interest April 2016
4 Orientation session 13 April 2016
5 Deadline for outline designs 30 April 2016
6 Interviews May 2016
7 Selection of artist May 2016
8 Agreement of draft design and contract June 2016
9 Development of proposals with community June – early July 2016
10 Agreement of final design By 16 July 2016
11 Creation of artwork TBA
12 Installation TBA
13 Unveiling TBA

 

  1. Appointment

Following an interview/selection process with a panel that will include local Councillors, officers from Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council, the selected artist will be required to enter into a contract to design, make and deliver the artwork within a mutually agreed timescale and programme installation in conjunction with Worcester City Council.

Good luck to all!
xxx
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Worcester Easter Market in review part 2

Welcome back!

We wrote for sun, they sent us rain!

We wrote for sun, they sent us rain!

We are so sorry you had to wait for the second part of our review, but we truly needed to rest. Two long days on the market in cold weather, rain and strong winds sent us to bed for 24 hours. Luckily, we recovered enough and we are now back in action.

Before we introduce you to some wonderful artisans we have met, please take a look at the previous links below. You can read about our preparations before the market and read the first part of our review as well:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/worcester-easter-festival/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/worcester-easter-market-part-2/
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/worcester-easter-market-in-review-part-1/

Rita Dabrowicz waving at the camera at our stand in the rain.

Rita Dabrowicz waving at the camera at our stand in the rain.

A view from our stand

A view from our stand

Now few thoughts after attending the fair. Worcester Easter Festival has been organized by LSD Promotions and we have to admit, that despite a very nice and competent crew working alongside the traders, the market had been very poorly advertised. It had absolutely no promotion, suffered from poor internal communications and not many shoppers were even aware it was actually happening. According to other sellers, only one advert has been published in a local newspaper and it was just 3 days before the market took place, a bit too late to properly advertise it. What’s even worse, half of the people we spoke to never received any emails, receipts or maps how to get to the market – us included. We have been promised a full pack to be sent by regular post (it never arrived and we live in Worcester City center area), then an email was supposedly sent out with digital copies of the documents and we never received that either. Please note that it was not a problem for us as we live within walking distance but majority of the sellers came from other towns such as London, Coventry or Manchester. It would be nice if the organizers thought about providing some information about local hostels/hotels, bed and breakfasts or even maps so our guests could navigate their way around Worcester and find an accommodation for the night. Worcester has a complicated road system and vital streets such as London Road are being maintained as present. Several people had to sleep in their vans as all hotels in the city have been already booked for Easter Holidays. We have directed couple of people to small hotels in Malvern but many were left to their own devices. Pretty sad.

Advertising materials

Advertising materials

A stand advertising the market

A stand advertising the market

A stand advertising the market - better shot.

A stand advertising the market – better shot.

The other side of the stall promoting the market.

The other side of the stall promoting the market.

Even better idea in this situation would be to form a partnership with a local B&B or a hotel and to introduce a new package for those merchants that come from far away. Such package should include a price of hotel room & the stall at the market or some serious discount when booking a place for the night. Why this is essential. Bad weather affects sales. Overbooked hotels make an angry merchant. Sleep deprived artisan who did not make enough sales to even cover the costs of market and petrol, will simply never return again to Worcester. Market towns ought to take their reputation seriously – give decent conditions to the merchants and they will be coming back, will recommend you to others and the market will grow.  Not to mention, people forced to sleep in their cars is an accident waiting to happen.  The last thing local artisan community needs is a black PR that our guests have been having misadventures while in town.

Quirky and fun posters that were available for the public during the market - we approve of that. More please!

Quirky and fun posters that were available for the public during the market – we approve of that. More please!

Family orientated fun. Making any market better since the down of time.

Family orientated fun. Making any market better since the down of time.

Another complaint we have is regarding LSD Promotions website. It doesn’t work properly and it is hard to find anything useful there. Rita had to call in to ask where the application for the market was located to be able to download it. We also had to ask for digital copies of  leaflets and posters – such materials should be available on the website so the sellers can find them easily.  The biggest let down was that nobody informed the traders about red weather warnings issued for Saturday for Worcester and Malvern that included severe flooding and high winds. Again, we have found it on our own by listening to the radio or checking the weather reports.  Lack of information resulted in several sellers choosing not to arrive for the second day at all as they didn’t know if the market would be on or not. Even local stall holder such as us were not informed. We were only told that some sort of advice will be given on Saturday morning, which of course as you can guess, never happened.

The High Street in Worcester.

The High Street in Worcester.

Another shot of the location - with market stalls visible.

Another shot of the location – with market stalls visible.

It makes us also think that if bad weather made some artisans to cancel their appearance on a second day (if your wares are made of paper you will not want to hang around in torrential rain), some compensations should be available. We were told that Easter Market was  different and no compensations would be provided. We are fans of finding a middle ground. If a trader had to skip a day, so their wares are not damaged, why not offer them  a chance to appear some other time, with a discount? We have standard markets every Saturday on the High Street and surely something could be arranged to keep both sides happy and satisfied.

We also had a Easter Bunny. That was cute - the kids loved it.

We also had a Easter Bunny. That was cute – the kids loved it.

Bunny with balloons. Hopefully we will see him coming back next year.

Bunny with balloons. Hopefully we will see him coming back next year.

Our experience overall is rather that of disappointment – two stars out of 5. As we have said before, the organizers are wonderful people but a complete lack of promotion and  troubles in communication resulted in a very low sales for us. We will think hard before participating again.

Trading in pouring rain is difficult – you have our word for that. Please see how our stand presented itself on the second day of the fair. We have become “Cats in hats”, it was not planned but we tried to keep our spirits high.

Rita as a ginger cat in a hat.

Rita as a ginger cat in a hat.

Malicia as a black cat in a hat.

Malicia as a black cat in a hat.

Hissing at the rain to make it go away.

Hissing at the rain to make it go away.

Our stand - rainy day two.

Our stand – rainy day two.

Cats in the rain.

Cats in the rain.

We always cover our cats in a cling film to prevent damage due to elements. We are clever kittens.

We always cover our cats in a cling film to prevent damage due to elements. We are clever kittens.

On a positive note, we met wonderful artists and made new friends. We had a fantastic time, drank a lot of tea and discussed million different topics. If you’d like to learn more about them, please read their short bios and visit their pages. Believe us, it will be worth it!

01. Pelle Gifts

Pelle Gifts stand #1

Pelle Gifts stand #1

We absolutely loved the gifts. They are mind blowing.

We absolutely loved the gifts. They are mind blowing.

Katie Townsend has always been interested in jewellery design and created many unique pieces for herself as a hobby. In 2014, she decided to go pro creating Pelle Design brand. Her store grew very quickly in the last two years and now Katie offers a large selections of gifts through her website: bracelets (male and female), watches, hats, scarves, gloves and other decorative elements. You can contact Katie through her Facebook page or visit her very popular stand in Stratford-upon-Avon where she is present every weekend.

Website: http://www.pellegifts.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PelleGifts

02. The Funky Cupcake Company

Funky Cupcake Company stand logo.

Funky Cupcake Company stand logo.

The delicious goods.

The delicious goods.

Yes, cupcakes can look that good.

Yes, cupcakes can look that good.

Mouth watering eye candy!

Mouth watering eye candy!

It’s not easy to be a baker these days. Popularity of shows such as Great British Bake Off encouraged many people to open their micro bakeries and the competition is very tough. Each market we go to has at least 4-5 stands offering cupcakes, marshmallows, fudge or cakes. You have to be extra good to convince visitors to buy from you and not from the other places. Well, Nathalie Morris, doesn’t have any problems with leaving her competitors miles behind. Her creations not only look like a million pound deal (or million USD if you prefer!) but they taste heavenly. We have tried several of her cupcakes and we give it five or even six stars! If you The Funky Cupcake Company somewhere at your local market, don’t hesitate even for a second.

Website: http://www.thefunkycupcakecompany.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFunkyCupcakeCompany/

03. Beverly Todd

The man himself - true artist and gentleman.

The stand in its glory.

Wider angle - so you can see the entire stand.

Wider angle – so you can see the entire stand.

Glass is a very delicate material - just marvel at the details!

Glass is a very delicate material – just marvel at the details!

Simply beautiful. You have to agree.

Simply beautiful. You have to agree.

Classically trained landscape artist, Beverly Todd specializes in the use of oil paints and bullseye glass. She has been always fascinated by the outdoors and clouds and you can see the love of open spaces in her work. She is a member of Contemporary glass makers association and her works are in private collections all over the UK. She is also represented by several High Street art galleries.

What we love about her art is she is able to paint anything you can think of – green fields with grazing sheep, snowy gardens, blooming flowers, stormy sea, cloudy skies, autumn forest. You can purchase her craft through her website in form of coasters, framed artworks, curved glass blocks, glass platters and bowls.

Website: http://www.beverlytodd.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeverlyToddArt/

04. Luxury Hampers and Gifts Ltd

Hamper heaven!

Hamper heaven!

If you need a properly composed hamper- who you gonna call?

If you need a properly composed hamper- who you gonna call?

Luxury Hampers and Gifts Ltd is a small family owned company founded by Paul and Ellen Halpin-Barnett. To create their outstanding hampers, they only use  British products of the highest quality – award winning wines and champagnes, locally baked cakes and cupcakes, organic teas and coffees. Hampers are beautifully packed and prepared for all occasions – from birthday celebrations to Christmas season or wedding receptions. Purchasing from them, you are supporting small and micro businesses from Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Website: https://www.luxuryhampersandgifts.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/luxuryhampersandgifts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Luxury_Hampers
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/luxury_hampersandgifts/

05. SIXTEEN

Quality goods and a very friendly merchant!

Quality goods and a very friendly merchant!

You`ll be spoiled for choice at Sixteen.

You`ll be spoiled for choice at Sixteen.

Customer browsing the wares.

Customer browsing the wares.

Must have for all the Mods!

Must have for all the Mods!

Nicola Holder and her team opened Sixteen in Wing, Buckinghamshire in 2010 to find an outlet for their refurbished retro furniture. Their skills in renovation were so great that a simple business idea soon turned into a fully operational store that offers now a whole range of services, including  home décor. Nicola travels around quite a lot, visiting arts and crafts markets all over the country. If you see her, stop and say hello!

Website: http://www.homeatsixteen.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homeatsixteen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/homeatsixteen

06. Blue-Beri

The artisan maker and her stand.

The artisan maker and her stand.

Incredible details. Malicia wishes she bought this one for herself.

Incredible details. Malicia wishes she bought this one for herself.

Aprons can be a very clever idea for a gift.

Aprons can be a very clever idea for a gift.

Angela Crofts is the proud owner of Blu-Beri brand. Based in Herefordshire, Angela makes shopper bags, tote bags, make-up purses, cushions and other accessories from high quality materials. Each item is individually crafted from high quality fabrics and has a unique, contemporary design. Angela’s bags are  very sought after and hopefully soon we will see her bags in High street boutiques. We have to admit that we fell in love with beautiful cooking aprons and we will have to get one for ourselves. Maybe two as  we both love to cook!

Website: http://www.blu-beri.co.uk (in preparation)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Blu-Beri-1433193970304076
Ebay store:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/bluberi2014?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

07. Flora Graphics

Flora Graphics stand.

Flora Graphics stand.

Flowery alphabet was very popular with buyers.

Flowery alphabet was very popular with buyers.

Color and detail - always a great combination.

Color and detail – always a great combination.

Simple yet effective and beautifully crafted.

Simple yet effective and beautifully crafted.

Stephanie Cutler has always been an avid gardener with a great love for wild flowers. Her own, traditional English garden is full of forget-me-nots, elderflowers, lady’s mantle, violas and other old time countryside favourites. Her floral expertise comes handy when Stephanie creates her truly unique designs – she hand pick the flowers she grew, presses them, dries and uses to produce greeting cards, coasters, table-mats, tableware and other gifts. If  you are looking for something extraordinary – look no further. Flora Graphics offers you everything you can dream of!

Website: http://www.floragraphics.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Floragraphics/

08. Natures Rooms

Sarah and her stand.

Sarah and her stand.

Soya wax - slow burning and totally vegan!

Soya wax – slow burning and totally vegan!

Sandalwood candle we bought!

Sandalwood candle we bought!

Sarah Evans is one special lady and her creations are pretty special too. She makes ecological soya wax candles and reed diffusers that contains only natural oils. You will not find any pesticides, herbicides, petroleum, paraffin, beeswax or genetically modified materials in her products and she has laboratory certificates to prove it. We bought a slow burning sandal wood candle from her and it’s like a heaven in a jar – its smell is very strong and wonderful. It comes in a stylish glass container and weights almost 1 kg. If you are looking for a environmental friendly, ecologically disposable and truly vegan item, please give Sarah a call now.

Website: http://www.naturesrooms.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Naturesrooms/445770492256062
Google+: https://plus.google.com/114681244989468229002/about

09. The Cheese Board

Barry and his son Tom - the best team ever.

Barry and his son Tom – the best team ever.

The selection is incredible. WE mean how many jams and marmalade and cheese you can take home?

The selection is incredible. WE mean how many jams and marmalade and cheese you can take home?

Details, details.

Details, details.

We purchased Guinness Cheddar. Best cheese you can have. End of topic.

We purchased Guinness Cheddar. Best cheese you can have. End of topic.

We have saved the best for the last. Our neighbors, Manchester based company called The Cheese Board do not have Facebook page or their own website but their food is to die for. To learn about them you have to attend local markets, but once you taste their food, you will be coming back for more. As the name suggests, the Cheese Board makes a great range of special cheeses for your enjoyment – from Guinness flavoured cheddar (we got one for ourselves), Red Wine Port, Garlic Lancashire, Cheddar Madras, Wensleydale Blueberry, Cheddar and Leek, Balsamic Onion, Fiery Dragon, Smoked Paprika to Red Leicester with black pepper. You can also purchase  a huge selection of chutneys (cider and apple, hot rhubarb, sun dried tomatoes and garlic, mango, lime and ginger to name a few), marmalades (brandy, whiskey and red onion) and jams (chili, rhubarb and ginger). To make your order, please contact Barry or Lisa at Lisa.leigh@uwclub.net or by calling  07717666699.

We know that our blog doesn’t cover every stall available on the market but it would be impossible to write about each stand. We have chosen the ones we thought were the best and we hope our readers agree with us.

Don’t forget to visit The Cat Shop on Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/VanadianAvenue/the-cat-shop/
or like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatshopdecor

Have a fantastic day and we will see you very soon!
xxx
Rita and Malicia

*****Update 31.03.2016*****

It seems that we are on the roll! Another blog and we score another mention! This time, we have been honoured by Sarah of NaturesRooms.

Natures Room Facebook mention for Vanadian Avenue

Natures Room Facebook mention for Vanadian Avenue

Thank you very much!
xxx
Rita and Mal

Worcester Easter Market in review – part 1

Hello!!

First day of Easter Festival has ended and we are dead tired! However, we wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without showing you several pictures from the market, so instead of going to rest, we are here writing this blog and editing the photos.

Markets are great fun and this one is no exception. We were truly blessed with a great weather (it was very cold in the morning though) and a great company.

Since we are extremely tired, we will try not to bore you with long review and  instead present you with visual evidence. Are you ready? This is how our beautiful stand look like this time:

The Cat Shop stand

The Cat Shop stand

Malicia greeeting visitors

Malicia greeting visitors

Cat artworks

Cat artworks

And more cat artworks

And more cat artworks

View from the distance

View from the distance

Thanks to all of you who stopped by and we are truly grateful for your kind words and comments. They mean a world to us. If you’d like to visit us tomorrow, please come to stand number 30, just outside of the Guild Hall. We are placed between Naturas Rooms (soya wax candle-makers) and The Cheese Board.

Don’t forget to like our social media pages:

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/VanadianAvenue/the-cat-shop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatshopdecor

The Easter Market will be open between 9:00 am and 17:00 pm, Saturday the 26th of March. We have been warned about possible showers and strong winds but we are not afraid of the weather forecast! If you don’t mind leaving your warm and cosy houses for a while, you can come and meet us in our usual place. You will also have a change to meet other extraordinary artists neighbors.

Let us recommend a few excellent people worth visiting:

01. Cotswold Crepes

Cotswold Crepes

Cotswold Crepes

The first stand we encountered at the Worcester Easter Festival belonged to the Redditch company called The Cotswold Crepes. The business is currently owned by John and Terrie Williams, successful entrepreneurs  and driving force behind several well known local brands such as Arrow Pig Roast, Willows Ice Cream, Arrow Buffet Services and John Williams Butchers of Studley. Cotswold Crepes prepared a delicious menu of sweet traditional Easter pancakes (massive selection of 17 different ones to choose from!), continental French crepes and English spring chocolates. Their cinnamon pancakes were to die for!

Website: http://www.cotswoldcrepes.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cotswold.crepes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CotswoldCrepes

02. Magical Den

Magic Den stand

Magic Den stand

Fairy Door

Fairy Door

Magic Den toys

Magic Den toys

Magical Den is a fantastic family run business that belongs to Anna and Marcin Rolinski. The Polish super duo won the hearts of Worcester parents by offering high quality hand made toys, tepees (also known as Fairy Doors), clothing and home decor. They use ecological materials that will last for years and can be washed multiple times without worrying about possible damages.  If you’d like to use their services please visit one of their links below:

Website: http://magicalden.co.uk/index.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/magicalden/

03. Serenity Cupcakes

Serenity Cupcakes

Serenity Cupcakes

Six pack for Easter

Six pack for Easter

Anybody wants a cookie?

Anybody wants a cookie?

Impressive selection

Impressive selection

Mark our words, in a couple of years, Seren Carpenter will be a household name as Marry Berry or Paul Hollywood. Seren, probably the youngest stall holder on the market, was doing extremely well bewitching the visitors with her baking skills. We wish we could add one of her cakes for you to try to this review but sadly it is not possible. To find out how good she is, you have to come to her next market and find out for yourself. We loved her vegan cupcakes and the blue cookie monster ones as well. Well done Seren! Oh, the bunny ears were great as well!

Website: http://serenitycupcakes.moonfruit.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/serenitycupcakes/timeline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SerenityCakes17

04. Churros Olé! Limited

Churros Ole Limited in action

Churros Ole Limited in action

And even more action!

And even more action!

We love discovering new tastes and dishes, but Southern European cuisine has a special place in our hearts. When we learnt that a group of Spanish people arrived at the market straight from London, we set out to find them. We didn’t have to go far, we just followed the delicious smell of traditional churros and within minutes of our arrival at their stand, we were chatting with the owners of Churros Olé! Limited like with old family friends. There is something special about Pablo and Isaac, they can easily entertain their quests with a serious conversation about languages, Shakespeare,  word creationism and poetry in such a manner that you will be immersed completely without even realizing it. And they can cook at the same time! Sadly, we were too full to try their churros with chocolate, but other visitors gave them raving reviews. If you ever see them at your local market, don’t waste any time and order double portion. You will not regret it.

Website: http://www.churrosole.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/churrosole.co.uk

05. The Cotswold Cup Company

The Cotswold Cup Company banner

The Cotswold Cup Company banner

Lorna and Polly are ready to take your order

Lorna and Polly are ready to take your order

Boleslawiec Pottery

Boleslawiec Pottery

Always talk to your neighbors when you are waiting for clients at your stand at the market. If you don’t do it, you will miss a great opportunity to meet some of the loveliest people alive. The Cotswold Cup Company is a family run business owned by Lorna Middleton and Polly Davies, a mother and daughter tag team. Lorna has spent many years living in Germany where she discovered a unique Polish stoneware pottery made in Boleslawiec. First, she became a collector, but soon her passion turned into something much more serious than just a hobby. Today Lorna and her team are distributors of famous Boleslawiec pottery in the Cotswolds and neighboring regions. If you are looking for something of extraordinary quality, please contact her and she will be more than happy to advise you.

Boleslawiec pottery can be used to store food in fridges, can be heated in microwaves and is dishwasher safe. Lorna possesses great knowledge about pottery and collectible items and her experience can help you to set up a tableware that would please the Queen of England.

Website: http://www.cotswoldcupcompany.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cotswoldcupcompany
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/thecotswoldcupc/kitchenware/

06. Love Little Treasures

Love Little Treasures is a young business run by two ladies, Laura and Jenny. They offer fun and quirky handmade, vintage inspired jewellery. If you value pop culture, popular books or the trendy TV series, you will fall quickly in love with their range – long necklaces, delicate earrings or elaborate brooches. The girls are very popular on Etsy and their store receives only 5 star reviews. Don’t you dare to miss them!

Love Little Trasures stand

Love Little Trasures stand

Vintage jewellery

Vintage jewellery

All items are hand made and inspired by popular culture

All items are hand made and inspired by popular culture

Business cards

Business cards

Love Little Trasures close up

Love Little Trasures close up

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/lovelittletreasures
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lovelittletreasures
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/love_little_treasures/

All right, we are off to bed to catch some beauty sleep and we will see you all tomorrow!
Have a fantastic evening xxx
Rita and Malicia D

******Update 31.03.2016******

Look at what we have received! The lovely ladies from Cutswold Cup Company purchased one of our cats and it is now proudly displayed on their wall. They were kind to share this wonderful picture with us!

Simplify your life adopted by Polly and Lorna of The Cotswolds Cup Company

Simplify your life adopted by Polly and Lorna of The Cotswolds Cup Company

We were also featured on their Facebook page:

Vanadian Avenue is mentioned on Cotswolds Cup Company's official Facebook page

Vanadian Avenue is mentioned on Cotswolds Cup Company’s official Facebook page

This is not all! Our blog is gettinga lot of likes and  it was also been mentioned by Serenity Cupcakes:

Serenity Cupcakes are not only delicious but sweet as well to post links to our review!

Serenity Cupcakes are not only delicious but sweet as well to post links to our review!

Thank you kindly for your kind words. They mean a world to us!

XXX
R+M Dabrowicz

Worcester Easter Market part 2

Welcome again!

Worcester Easter Festival is just two days away now and we are very, very excited. Two-day markets always mean hard work, but we are extremely happy to see our usual customers return to our stall. We are also pleased to meet new people as well. We hope to be excused if we sound like doors to the crypt by the end of the day. High Street is fully packed every weekend and Easter time shopping spree could be twice as busy. After speaking to several hundred people, your voice refuses to work and there is nothing we can do about it!

Worcester Easter Market 25-26 March 2016

Worcester Easter Market 25-26 March 2016

Yesterday we showed you several of the newest unframed artworks that will be available for purchase on the market. If you have missed the previous article, please click on the link below to read it: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/worcester-easter-festival/

Today, we would like to present our favorite framed pieces. They come in different sizes and shapes and are worth taking a closer look as they can be quite detailed.  Rita has chosen 5 large pictures and she hopes you will enjoy looking at them as much as she enjoyed making them.

01. “A lot of blooming fun”

Malicia came up with this very cheeky title after Rita ran out of ideas. Originally it was entitled “Whatever” as this was Rita’s reply when Mal asked her how this artwork should be named. Luckily, a nicer title was quickly found and we don’t have to be ashamed inviting you to look at art pieces knows as “Whatever1” and “Whatever2”. A lot of blooming fun sounds so much better!

Cutting the flowers was a real nightmare for Rita and it took forever to do it. She has worked with brand new materials she has never used before and the experience was not a nice one. The artistic metal foil sheets are not only very thick and you need to apply a great amount of strength for them to go through the Sizzix machine, their edges are also sharp as knives and you have to be careful when you are using them. One composition took about 6 hours from the beginning to finish

A lot of blooming fun

A lot of blooming fun

A lot of blooming fun - flower close up

A lot of blooming fun – flower close up

02.”A lot of blooming fun part 2″

Rita has a strange habit of creating another similar artwork if she had problem with the first one. Even she is not sure where this very unusual desire streams from. Maybe it is the need of mastering an unknown medium/materials or she simply like to torment herself. Anyway, she decided to create “A lot of blooming fun part 2” and she had another 6 hours of pure physical and mental torture. At times she was close to tearing  both picture to pieces but her fingertips were so bloodied and bruised that she had problems with keeping anything in her hands!

 It is worth mentioning that she is very proud of the Japanese vibe both picture have but generally speaking, making them was a tiny bit of a hell on Earth for her.

A lot of blooming fun 2

A lot of blooming fun 2

A lot of blooming fun 2 - flower details

A lot of blooming fun 2 – flower details

03. “Portraits”

 We didn’t plan to make this artwork as its frame has been originally purchased for another picture. After it proved to be too shallow, we decided to create a unique work to fill it. Rita found a matching mount in her friend’s art gallery and Malicia provided her with an idea and materials (decorative paper and small wooden frames purchased on Malta). To fill all 5 places on the mount, Rita had to make 5 separate artworks and attach them one by one to the base. It took her five consecutive evenings but the overall effect is worth every effort

Portraits number 2

Portraits number 2

Please take a look at close up photographs taken by Malicia. Each cat is different and you will not find two identical ones

Portraits - kitten number 1 close up

Portraits – kitten number 1 close up

Portraits - kitten number 2 close up

Portraits – kitten number 2 close up

Portraits - kitten number 3 close up

Portraits – kitten number 3 close up

Portraits - kitten number 4 close up

Portraits – kitten number 4 close up

Portraits - kitten number 5 close up

Portraits – kitten number 5 close up

04. “All together now part 1”

As with “Portraits”, “All together now” started with a frame. While shopping for other items, we found two lovely frames, slightly damaged and ready to be thrown away. We spoke to the store managers and we were allowed to purchase them at half of their price. This is a sad reality we live in. Perfectly good items are being removed from the stock just because they are imperfect – in majority of cases “the damage” is just a scratch, a dent or a broken frame clip! Those items are very rarely available to be purchased; bigger stores purposely make it harder for customers to buy them. It seems it is easier for stores to discard the faulty items than to move them to the “Reduce to clear” section. When Rita questioned one of the managers why they do it as such practices contribute to bigger waste, he just shrugged and hid himself behind company’s policies.

We are big advocated that such policies should have no place in our modern societies. There is no shame is displaying slightly damaged goods with reduced prices. People are very good with tools and you don’t need any special skills to fix tiny things. It took Rita about 10 minutes to re-attach the clips to the frames using tiny screws and a screwdriver. Hardly any work! We are on the right way, however. Supermarkets in Italy and France are no longer able to throw away food; it has to be given to shelters and food banks. A time will come when big department stores will be forced to stop throwing slightly damaged household items just because they do not fit their marketing or aesthetic visions. Maybe they can be given away to those who are in need of them but cannot afford to pay full prices?

Excuse this rant, but sustainability and improved way of life are very close to our hearts. The Cat Shop is using recyclable materials to turn trash into treasures and we cannot stand still when things like that happen in from of us. Anyway, as you can see, the fixed frame looks fantastic, you will not be able to tell it was broken at some point!

All together now #1

All together now #1

Close ups of each kitten:

All Together Now #1 - upper panel detail

All Together Now #1 – upper panel detail

All Together Now #1 - middle panel detail

All Together Now #1 – middle panel detail

All Together Now #1 - lower panel detail

All Together Now #1 – lower panel detail

05. “All together now part 2”

All together now part 2 is very similar to the first one. Each kitten on the three window panel is of course different, but the frame is identical, except for the colour (white). Rita has fixed the broken clip using exactly the same method as before and both pictures can be displayed next to each other. We are truly proud how both of them turned out!

All together now #2

All together now #2

All Together Now #2 - upper panel detail

All Together Now #2 – upper panel detail

All Together Now #2 - middle panel detail

All Together Now #2 – middle panel detail

All Together Now #2 - lower panel detail

All Together Now #2 – lower panel detail

Please don’t forget that The Cat Shop has two social media pages:

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/VanadianAvenue/the-cat-shop/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatshopdecor

Have a great evening!
XXX
Rita and Malicia D.