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London Craft Week 2022

Part of the John Smedley Craft Prize includes an exhibition of my work at the John Smedley, Jermyn Streeet store in London. They also held a drinks reception as part of London Craft Week. Keep reading to find out more about the event!

London Craft Week

May seems to have come round so quickly this year. I delivered my work to the John Smedley Store on Jermyn Street last week when I was attending an event at Fortnum and Mason. After carrying heavy pieces of stone around I was left, as usual, wishing I was a Jeweller!

London Craft Week 9th – 15th May. I delivered my work to the John Smedley store in plenty of time because when they change the window displays, it will be with images of me and my work!

Today is the 12th of May and this evening is the drinks reception in the store, introducing me as the Craft Prize winner.

It’s a novelty having my train tickets and accommodation paid for, one I could get very used to! I hop on the train at Andover station and steam into Waterloo. Work and home life is so busy at the moment that a quiet sit on the train for an hour feels like something of a luxury!

Photo of the John Smedley Window with Zoë's work

John Smedley Store, Jermyn Street. London

Arriving in London

As soon as I arrive in London, I head over to St James’s to see the setup and discuss the order of proceedings for the evening.

I have to admit it’s a slightly strange feeling walking down such a grand road in London with so many iconic names on it, then looking up and seeing your face in the window!

It is really lovely to meet some more members of the John Smedley team, especially the ones I’ve been communicating with lots via email, but the nerves are starting to build!

Carved sphere called 'ARC' in the John Smedley store

‘Arc’ In the John Smedley Store.

Developing the Business

I’ve spent many years working hard on learning the craft of stone masonry. Now I am also working incredibly hard on networking, marketing, PR and branding. Although I have learnt a few things along the way, these ‘business’ elements are not something I had much experience with prior to lockdown.

I’m still learning and seeking advice but seeing my work in the window of John Smedley is definitely a moment which will stay with me. It’s a moment of reassurance that I’m doing the right thing and that the hard work is paying off.

Also, as well as being incredibly excited about this evening, I’m pretty nervous about speaking. I’m getting more used to speaking publicly but it’s not something I actively look forward to.

Zoë Speaking with guests at the drinks reception

Chatting with friends at the drinks reception. Photo: Rupert Handley

Drinks reception

This evening is made a bit more special because my mum has been able to join me, Which hasn’t been possible much recently, mostly due to covid but also because of her knee replacement! Not only is my mum coming, but also one of my cousins and some really dear friends too.

As people start arriving (and I have a little glass on something, to ease the nerves of course) I start to relax a little.

Firstly, it’s just nice that people are actually turning up, but also, I’m getting some lovely feedback about my work as well.

The evening turned out to be a great success, lots of people asking interesting question. The John Smedley team were happy with the turnout and MD Ian Maclean, and I give a little talk about John Smedley and my work, which went swimmingly well!

7pm and we wonder out into a beautifully warm May evening in London, happy. This was followed by a great meal in Flat Iron with my mum and friends before heading back to our hotel.

Zoe and her mum eating ice cream and smiling

Supported by QEST CEO Deborah Pocock

More From London Craft Week

The joy of staying in London rather than having to dash back home for once is that I get to visit some other LCW events happening too.

After a wonderful breakfast with my mum, we go our separate ways. I’m heading off to the Chelsea Design Centre in Imperial Wharf to go and see Artefact.

I exhibited last year with QEST at Artefact and it was a real turning point for my business. The last year has flown by and it’s hard to imagine when I walk through the big glass doors, that it’s been a year already.

The QEST stand looks fantastic as always, such incredibly talented scholars’ work on display. There are two demonstrations going on as well. I have a nice chat with the scholars and some of the QEST team before heading round the rest of the show.

silvery, delicately woven piece hanging on a white wall

Laura Thomas’s beautiful weaving on the QEST stand at Artefact

cocloured silver sculpture in front of similarly coloured woven panels

Cavaliero Finn Gallery Stand at Artefact, Ceclila Moores work in front of Dalia James

Favourite Gallery

My favourite gallery is definitely Cavaliero Finn. I’ve seen them at a few big exhibitions recently, and they’re on my radar as a gallery I would love to exhibit with. They always have such an interesting aesthetic and it is incredibly well curated. The texture and colours of the objects they exhibit are so interesting I find it draws me in.

The pieces seem to be even more interesting due to the conversations they’re having with other makers work around them. I often find inspiration comes from seeing other makers work and how it makes me feel.

After taking some photos and having a chat with the gallery owners I hop back on the tube in the direction of Kennington. I’m heading back to City and Guilds of London Art School, the first time since 2017 to see the carving competition which is in full swing.

 

Students carving in the workshop during the competition

Students carving in the Sunshine at City and Guilds Of London Art School

The Art School Carving Competition

The Art school has an in-house competition every year during London Craft Week which is open to the public (and you can also have a go too!)

It feels very odd stepping back into the Art School: In fact it feels rather like coming home! I had such a fantastic time at the Art School all the fond memories start streaming back. Then I hear the familiar voice of the head of department, Nina Bilby, and suddenly I’m also rather relived not to be participating in the competition this year!!

After a great catch up with the tutors I have a wander round the studios and offer some enthusiastic encouragement to the students.

The mixture of wanting to be back there but also realising how far I’ve come since I left is a nice feeling. I say my goodbyes and head back to the station, tired but very happy.

Zoe sitting in the sunshines with her old tutors

Sitting in the sunshine catching up with some of my amazing tutors

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