We left wales on Friday, but instead of returning straight home I spent the weekend with the bf on the Isle of Ely. One of of my favourite things each year is the Cambridgeshire Open Studios which takes place in July. So after a lazy Saturday we spent Sunday in the car and visited four studios in and around Ely plus Angela Mellor's studio/gallery which also open but not part of the open studios scheme. Angela Mellor is a ceramicist working in bone china and producing the most delicate if not ethereal objects. Her beautiful gallery space too is worth a visit for it's own sake.
We then drove to Little Downham to two studios: firstly Andy English, and then Phil Treble. Andy English is a wood engraver and illustrator and produces wonderful things like this 'Prospect of Ely which was designed, engraved, printed and bound by Andy himself in a limited edition of 100. He uses a Victorian Albion Press.
Andy English works in what originally was his garage as does Phil Treble. Phil is a letterpress printer, though during the week he designs stuff for the internet. Corinne Blandin-Eagling does not work in a garage or a shed she works in a bright yellow double-decker bus which is parked in her back garden in Barway. "You're aboard, You're abroad. You're aboard with the Double Deckers..." Barway is a remote place, a 'dead-end', with a small village green and old houses; at the far end of the village is a wonderful old hump-backed bridge and a delicious view of Ely Cathedral. I hope she won't be insulted if I say that it's all wonderfully eccentric chez elle. Corinne does a wide range of courses including pottery.
Finally we drove to Burwell and the hidden away studio of James Ryder, letter cutter, who trained at the Kindersley workshop. The studio is literary up the garden path - possibly the best commute I know. It was Phil Treble who printed James's wonderfully tactile business cards.
Heading back to Sutton we caught the last few minutes of Jarvis Cocker's evocative documentary on 'Betjeman's Banana Blush' - the album of late Poet Laureate reading his work to musical accompaniment by Jim Parker. The album was produced by Hugh Murphy. It was released in 1974 on Charisma. All rather eccentric, and quite, quite fantastic. I urge you to go and get a copy or listen to both it and the documentary on-line. It's well worth it. Betjeman, I think, was the last Poet Laureate to really connect with people (that is usually prefaced with 'ordinary', but I'll dispense with that slightly lit snobbish term). But enough said about that.
Angela Mellor www.angelamellor.com
Andy English www.andyenglish.com
Phil treble www.muttonsandnuts.co.uk
Corinne Blandin-Eagling www.corinneblandin.com
James Ryder www.jamesryderlettercutter.co.uk