At a recent get together of the group of artists to which I belong, one of our number announced that she had been selected to take part in a new BBC daytime lifestyle programme about Handmade Crafts. What’s that! We all sat up while she explained more – Paul Martin (you know him from Flog It and To The Manor Reborn) is hosting a new series examining the state of Handicraft in the UK today, and our friend had been selected to be one of 5 people representing Pottery. (I have to say Pottery, because although my friend is a talented sculptor and ceramicist, the BBC have decided that for this programme anything of that ilk will be termed Pottery).
The filming was scheduled to take place at the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre in West Sussex on 28 July and participants would be in attendance carrying out some of their work while being interviewed throughout the day. A brief couple of lines in the West Sussex gazette, the local weekly newspaper gave the event a brief mention with the added aside that if you brought along something you had made yourself you could get in for free! What should I bring, how to choose I wondered.
This is what I chose to take with me, a handbag from my Paisley Pedlar collection.
Arriving at a little after 10 o’clock it was a glorious sunny day and mercifully quiet, no doubt still a bit early for the thronging hoards! My handbag was duly presented for inspection at the entrance and passed with flying colours since not only did I get in for free, my husband did as well!
For those who have never heard of the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, it is based in the bowl of a disused chalk quarry not far from Arundel. The 36 acre site is an open air museum where you can see heritage crafts taking place all around the site in various buildings, many of which have been relocated from their original site to the museum. While it is a level walk round the site, there is the option to travel by the narrow gauge industrial railway or by vintage Southdowns Omnibus.
Walking back up we took time to visit the various exhibition halls dedicated to industrial railways, electricity and the connected earth before making our way to the first of the heritage craft areas – Pottery! On arrival at the Pottery filming was already in progress, so we tiptoed round the brick drying shed investigating the exhibits and watching the folk from the BBC do their ‘thing’!
and the drying shed, BBC film crew, runners
and various assistants, interviewer rehearsing her lines from crib card.
A gentle stroll back through the museum site takes you past the amazing De Witt Kilns, built in 1905 this vast structure is a lime burning kiln and is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Further along are the “rescued” buildings which have been taken down brick by brick from their original site and rebuilt at the museum. These include the cycle workshop next door to the Southdowns Bus Garage, a rural telephone exchange, the Arundel Gin Building and various smaller buildings housing heritage crafts trades such as broom making, wheelwright, wood turners (Bodgers) and the delightful Fairmile cafe.
The wheelwright’s shop; the Garage; the Cycle Repair shop; Southdowns Omnibus Co office
Built around 1939 on the instructions of the Earl of Hardiwicke this wooden building was sited at Fairmile Bottom north of Arundel on what is now the main A29 (Stane Street) road between London and Chichester. An important piece of motoring history, it stood on its original site until 2002 when it was bought by and relocated to Amberley.
Back at the main ‘village green’ near the entrance and outside the Limeburners restaurant filming was taking place in earnest. Paul Martin was pacing up and down reading his crib cards and memorising what he was supposed to say before facing the camera and speaking directly to it in a whisper – presumably this part gets dubbed in at a later stage. then it was the turn of the next interviewee – the Yarn Bombers also known as Guerilla Knitters. this unassuming group of ladies sitting quietly minding their own business knitting busily spend their days knitting squares and rectangles which are then used to wrap outdoor items such as lampposts, trees, drain grates etc. (You can find out more about Yarn Bombing on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_bombing, or by Googling ‘Yarn Bombing’ in your browser).
Would you trust these ladies?!! Paul Martin rehearses Yarn Bombed!
Paul Martin introduces item about Guerilla Knitters (Yarn Bombing) and interviews Yarn “Terrorist”!
All-in-all a really interesting morning spent at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre (http://www.amberleymuseum.co.uk), great to see so many heritage crafts in action and have to opportunity to have-a-go, and a bonus of seeing a TV programme being made.
Check out The Handmade Revolution on your screens BBC 2 Daytime later this year. (To find out more go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/beonashow/handmade_revolution).
And Finally…… regular readers will know how much I love vintage advertising and I really couldn’t resist these little gems…. I hope you like them as much as I do.