When asked to say ‘what makes the perfect vintage fair’ there is, unfortunately, no simple answer. For starters you have to know who is asking the question – the visitors, the stallholders, the organiser, the venue owner, the caterer etc.
They need not all have divergent viewpoints of course and it may be possible to achieve a consensus; that can sometimes be difficult, but not impossible. One such case was last week’s Cuckfield Vintage Emporium, held in The Queen’s Hall, which is curated by Darcy Shepherd.
Darcy is a well-known figure in the world of Sussex vintage and country fairs with a growing reputation nationally too; her Cuckfield Vintage Emporium (CVE) is still in its infancy having only got off the ground, as it were, in March this year. For the past 3 months she has been attracting around 25 vintage traders to set-up shop in The Queen’s Hall in Cuckfield High Street where she aims to establish a permanent home for her events.
“We always knew May was going to be problematic,” Darcy explained, “because of a very big fair taking place not far away in Surrey at the Nonsuch Mansion just the day before ours.” This meant that a number of regular CVE traders were tied up and inevitably some vintage devotees were ‘all shopped-out’ which, it was predicted, would impact on the CVE attendance.
“However we decided to press ahead,” said Darcy, “for a number of reasons, including in order to establish continuity and so as not to let down our loyal stallholders and visitors.”
In the event it proved to be exactly the right decision because, whilst visitor numbers were slightly down, the new stallholders who filled the gap proved to be exceptional, plus the whole ambience was really friendly and upbeat.
As Darcy said, “At the end of the day, it’s the stallholders who create the atmosphere through their enthusiasm, the exceptional quality of their goods and the attractiveness of their stands, and once again they have delivered, which is fantastic.”
An outstanding example came from two CVE debutants, Kate Richards and Heather Lynn, both stallholders sharing a pitch for the first time at The Queen’s Hall.
Kate is a florist and trades as Iris & Arlo, with a shop in Lombard Street, Petworth. And Heather, having made her earlier career in catering has recently launched Courtown Crafts, selling hand-painted vintage furniture and decorative pieces from her base in Slinfold, near Horsham.
Heather’s interest in painted furniture grew from her own experiments at home which soon began to attract admiring comments, and the impetus to branch out on her own, and set up Courtown Crafts, came when an antiques dealer colleague gave that extra bit of encouragement.
That was about 6-months ago and like many a DIY painter (myself included) Heather started with the Farrow & Ball range of paints, attracted by their beautiful subtle colours and quality. Now she is also using the highly regarded Annie Sloan chalk paints and waxes as favoured by the cognoscenti with some stunning results.
“The Annie Sloan method is a bit of a departure and working with her paints is very different from conventional paint, but the finished product is spectacular, so it is well worth persevering” says Heather.
Kate Richards has loved flowers as long as she can remember, “For me, when it comes to flowers, the more natural the presentation the better” says Kate, who completed her training at Brinsbury college five years ago.
She says that creating a ‘vintage look’ is not always as simple as it might first appear, “Selecting the right flowers is the first step – Peonies, Sweet peas, Poppies and Lupins are amongst my favourites – and if you can get close to an arrangement that looks like an English summer meadow, you’re pretty much there”.
But business being business Kate has her feet firmly ‘planted’ on the floor and that means in order to make her Petworth based business succeed she calls on her formal training to supply flowers for weddings, birthdays, corporate functions and all forms of celebrations.
Judging by the buzz that hummed around The Queen’s Hall, both Kate and Heather (and the many other exhibitors, too many to mention here unfortunately) proved to be a great hit with the CVE’s vintage shoppers whose support once again ensured that the event continues to go from strength to strength. See you next on 21st June!
16th May 2013
CVE Newcomers’ Gallery 10th May