The Review: Renegade Craft Fair, London

24 September 2012

Apologies that it has taken a wee while to get this blog post up. It has warranted some pondering before posting.

So on Sunday September 16th I went to the Renegade Craft Fair (hereon RCF) and it was...


The pondering was necessary to work out just why it was only an "ok" on my personal scale of enthusiasm.

I think I may have been envisaging more of a fest for the imagination, with stall holders as purveyors of inspiration, providing materials and ideas which visitors could then take away and create their own projects of delight.

And it wasn't quite that. Imagine some clever science boffin had extracted Folksy from the intermeweb and made it tangible. And as Folksy was the RCF's main sponsor, I suppose it was appropriate it should be thus; 

A market where you could buy stuff.

Granted it was some interesting and desirable stuff made by the people who were selling it. Fewer air miles, support of local economy and British designers and all that.

And amongst this stuff were some lovely jewellery, witty prints, gaucho leather goods and the occasional textiley objet d'art. Which is fine. I acquired a couple of bits and bobs myself and as, you know, I'm one for a good market or fair or charity shop bargain.

But this market was on Brick Lane on a Sunday. 

Brick Lane on a Sunday. This photo doesn't do justice to the mighty flood of humanity that throng this stretch of London but you get a hint of the busyness.

I'd already passed through Spitalfields Market en route and was already feeling slightly overwhelmed already by sparkly trinkets. Underneath the RCF in the Truman Brewery was the weekly Sunday Up Market. This sells jewellery, prints, leather goods and the occasional textiley objet d'art.

Less than a 5-minute walk north up Brick Lane and - still part of the Truman Brewery complex - is the Backyard Market, which sells jewellery, prints, leather goods and the occasional textiley objet d'art.

Continuing north one reaches Columbia Road. Yes, the main emphasis is flowers but there are a lot of stalls on Ezra Street and in the shops around that sell jewellery, prints....

You see where I'm going with this? There's just an awful lot of people selling "craft" along this stretch of East London at the weekend. And the RCF didn't stand out much from a very busy crowd.

I think what I found slightly uncomfortable was the RCF's emphasis on consumption and not enough about making. Maybe next time there could be a few more indie wool dyers, jewellery kit makers and scrapbook "how to-ers" to complement all the other stuff. Really, how much Tatty Devine (whose shop is ALSO on Brick Lane) -inspired bling does one need in one's life?

I want the inspiration, the tools and kit to make my own bling.
(Images: Zoë F. Willis)


Debbie said...

Hi Zoe.
I had pondered about venturing up to town to visit the RCF, as I thought it might be nice to see some of my fellow Folksy sellers (nothing in my Folksy shop at the mo), but I didn't - too busy making.
However I wonder if you were expecting too much? I think most think of a craft fair as an event selling, well, crafts - handmade or otherwise.
If you want to see materials, kits and stacks of inspiration go along to the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally in October. If you haven't been before you will be frazzled with all the ideas and fabulous materials. Be warned you will need a big bag and a loaded purse!
Don't forget we have another Kitsch and Stitch on 1st December!

Zoe F. Willis said...

Hi Debbie.
Yes, you're probably right about expecting too much. I adore the Knitting and Stitching show and just come away from it simply fizzing with ideas.

My difficulty with the RCF may also have been too much craftiness on the Sunday in question. But I do wonder if it needs something else to make it stand out amongst the throngs of other Brick Lane Markets.

But I have written another wee blog post about the designers at RCF, of which there were some really great ones.

Maybe see you at Ally Pally?! Certainly in Cranbrook on Dec 1.