A few of my favourite things

One of my favourite events of the year is the Cambridge Open Studios in July, where local artists of every genre open up their studios for the public to visit and see their work. Open Studios members also host other events throughout the year and the website contains details of several local artists – so you can contact them directly all year round.

I have visited a number of the artists’ studios over the years and there are plenty of others I am yet to see. But with Christmas (sorry!) not too far away and people thinking about gifts for their loved ones, I thought I would share some of my favourites…

 

bbruun 1

Selection of contemporary bangles, by Birgitte Bruun.

 

Birgitte Bruun is a Danish born jeweller who makes some beautiful pieces using a range of stones, metals and techniques. Her jewellery has a really contemporary feel and I particularly like her bangles, including the beautiful opal cuff in the picture below – the perfect gift for someone with an October birthday (though I’m probably better suited to an Aquamarine gemstone myself…) . I visited her studio a couple of months ago when buying a birthday present for a friend and all her pieces were so lovely it took a long time to decide what to buy. If you’d like to see some of Birgitte’s jewellery you can arrange a visit to her studio via her website, or you can catch her on 2nd December at Mill Road Winter Fair – where she will be hosting a pop-up stall at the Makers Gallery in Hope Street Yard.

 

bbruun 5

Opal cuff, by Birgitte Bruun.

 

Agnes Asselin uses textiles to create pictures as well as jewellery and other accessories. These are colourful pieces and mostly African inspired, with designs including people and a range of animals. Last year I visited her studio and bought the giraffe in the photo below – I think he’s going to need a friend at some point so will no doubt be paying another visit to the studio soon. Agnes will be opening her studio (just a three-minute walk from Mill Road) on 2nd December for Mill Road Winter Fair.

 

agnesa 1

Giraffe by Agnes Asselin.

 

Sarah Went makes beautiful ceramics. I’m yet to visit her studio myself, but her designs look like they are just what I want in my kitchen. I bought a handmade ceramic butter dish – which I adore – at an independent craft fair a couple of years ago, but having seen pictures of Sarah’s I have now decided that you can never have too many butter dishes… If you too would like to see some of Sarah’s ceramics, she will be opening her studio as part of Mill Road Winter Fair.

There are Christmas Open Studios events on throughout December, with Birgitte, Agnes and Sarah all displaying their work on 2nd December (at the Mill Road Winter Fair and nearby studios) as well as many other local artists and creators whose designs are well worth a look during the month; and if you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, it’s worth noting that most artists will take commissions. If Mr Mill Road happens upon this blog post then he could well save himself a lot of time and stress when it comes to choosing Christmas presents. ūüėČ

 

Mill Road Winter Fair

shoplocalsmallbusiness satToday is Small Business Saturday, Shop Local Saturday and also of course the busiest and best day in the Mill Road calendar – Mill Road Winter Fair! The event, which began in 2005 and is now held on the first Saturday of each December, has been in the planning for many months and will see residents, shops and the local community coming together to celebrate the area and all that it has to offer.

The Fair is well known for its musical delights and this year looks set to be no exception. If you were on the bridge at last years Fair you may well have felt the earth move whilst watching The Brass Funkeys – there were reports that the bridge was, quite literally, shaking as people danced and enjoyed themselves! This year you can find the band hosting ‘The Brass Funkeys presents…’ outside Code Hairdressers on Mill Road, as part of Code’s Christmas Cracker. The band will be playing at around 3pm and during the day you can also catch Wil Buchanon, Thudbox, Live and Let Funk and Balkanoes on the stage. Code will also be serving mulled wine and cider and there’ll be lots of other activities including vintage hairdos and facepainting.

MRWFJC 3All along Mill Road there will be lots of other performers and musicians throughout the day, including the Jackson Creek Band at 2pm by the Avenue of Limes whilst at the same time The Scissors are playing at Ditchburn Gardens and The Centimes will be at Gwydir Street Car park. Argyle Street Housing Co-operative will also be hosting their much loved Winter Fair stage, with music from 11am – including the Arco Iris Samba Band at 13:40, Dave Crow Barr at 15:00, Jam Band Caravan at 16:00 and Fara Fiddle at 17:00. This will culmiate in an ASH Co-op Jam on the stage around 18:30. As well as music, ASH Co-op car park will of course also be playing host to a range of stalls selling festive gifts and goodies, second hand goods and plenty of books.

Other activities include a Craft Market at the drama studio on Covent Garden, where you can find The Map Project team and lots of art and craft stalls. There will also be a Winter Wardrobe Fashion Show at the Salisbury Club on Mill Road, the Cambridge Lindy Hoppers dancing in the streets of Romsey and the Carnival Parade – which will be setting off from the town end of Mill Road around 12:15 before making its way down to Coleridge Road.

MRWF JC 2One of the great things about Mill Road Winter Fair is being able to wander between all the different shops, many of whom are offering homemade food and drink on stalls outside. There will also be a number of food stalls at Gwydir Street Car Park, including Mr Cake – he’s the chap that made the papers last year when he left his job by icing his resignation letter onto a cake!

With so much going on, there’s bound to be something to suit just about everyone. Hope everyone has a great Fair! :o)

Your favourite High Street

The Telegraph newspaper are running a campaign called Reinventing the High Street, aiming to put the heart back into the country’s traditional high streets. People are asked to nominate their favourite simply¬†by emailing highstreet@telegraph.co.uk.

Mill Road BridgeI don’t know about you, but I think there’s something pretty special about Mill Road and I think it deserves a place among the best that the UK has to offer. Not only is¬†the Mill Road area¬†home to Cambridge’s best independent pub, coffee house, home & garden shop, specialist food shop and record shop (all awarded this year in the Discovering Cambridge awards) and home to the Independent Drinks Retailer of The Year (as voted at the UK Drinks Retailing Awards 2013) but it’s also the location of CAMRA‘s Cambridge¬†City Locale Pub Of The Year 2013. There’s a range of events on throughout the year – including the Romsey Art Festival,¬†several street parties, various beer festivals¬†and of course the forthcoming Mill Road Winter Fair – as well as regular music nights at lots of different venues; and next week sees the first ever Romsey Calling music festival on Mill Road.

Mill Road has even been used as a location for music videos (like Mikill Pane’s ‘Good Feeling‘),¬†films (Neil Morrissey was here last month filming a new movie, Caffiend), TV programmes (including Antiques Road Trip)¬†and has had residents such as¬†Douglas Adams,¬†Dave Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Angela Hartnett¬†and Amy Williams over the years. It¬†even has its own blog and its own radio show – ‘Our Mill Road‘! There’s lots more I could say about Mill Road, but too much for one blog post (hence the whole blog!) but suffice to say it’s full of community-spirited¬†individuals and groups¬†and has lots of people¬†living, working and socialising in the area and keeping Mill Road the coolest street in Cambridge.

All you need to do to nominate Mill Road is to email highstreet@telegraph.co.uk and let them know! You know what they say – there’s something about Mill Road… .

Calling all artists…

Art 4Those of you who tuned in to me guest-presenting the ‘Our Mill Road‘ show on Cambridge 105¬†earlier this month¬†will have heard me mention an exciting new¬†community art project that’s being organised by¬†Ceri Littlechild…

There are hoardings outside a currently vacant piece of land on Mill Road Рnear the Spar shop at No.301 Рand although the land is already earmarked for development and the hoardings will be removed at some point, they could be improved in the mean time and made to look nicer. Ceri has been in touch with the current landowners and spoken to them about the possibility of running an art project to decorate the hoardings. They have agreed in principle though have asked for potential designs for the hoardings to be submitted, before final approval. The group is also waiting to hear if they will be able to use the other nearby hoardings which are owned by the Mosque Project.

Mill Road hoardings

Seven lead artists are needed for the project, with each working on between five and ten of the hoardings. The work of each lead artist would involve:

  • Identifying a local community group to engage in the design process (ASAP). This should preferably reach out to a diverse range of people, including local school children, minority groups, the disabled, elderly, or those with a local interest or connection.¬†Applicants must have the appropriate certification to be able to work with children or the vulnerable.
  • Arranging one or two (as appropriate) half day workshops with that community group to sketch out 2 or 3 designs for¬†the relevant¬†section of the hoardings (October/November 2013)
  • Once the designs have been submitted and a final one picked by the owners,¬†the lead artists¬†will be responsible for conducting the installation of the art work. This part should be carried out by professional artists only, rather than involve the community group, unless¬†lead artists¬†have the required insurances.¬†Lead artists¬†may want to recruit additional volunteer artists to help (December 2013 or January 2014).
  • It is expected that the total time commitment would be 1-2 days arranging workshops, another 1-2 days carrying out the workshops and up to five days for the art work installation (depending on the medium used and any additional voluntary help).

It is hoped that there may be the possibility of getting some funding¬†or a grant to run¬†the project, so that lead artists can be paid for their time and materials,¬†though this isn’t yet¬†guaranteed.

Art 2Mill Road is a multicultural and diverse community and the art work on the hoardings should celebrate that and not cause offence to any particular group. People can use a variety of cultural references for inspiration. The work can be in any medium (i.e. print, post-up or paint), but the installation is subject to final agreement and permission from the land owner Рand no painting should take place until that permission is granted. Although a date for removal of the hoardings has not yet been given, they could potentially be removed as early as June 2014 Рso there is a need to begin the project soon and work on it over the winter.

This is a great opportunity to get involved in a local project and see your artwork adorning Mill Road! If you’d like to apply then please email Ceri with your name,¬†contact details and your relevant experience/CV by 5th October: millroadcoordinator@gmail.com.

Blog birthday giveaway!

There's something about Mill Road...I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but¬†it’s now¬†been over¬†a year since¬†‘There’s something about Mill Road’ entered the blogosphere!¬†It¬†started as a hobby that I hoped a few people might read from time to time, but I have been – and continue to be – amazed¬†by just how much interest there has been in my ramblings, not just from the Mill Road area itself¬†and Cambridge, but¬†across the UK and even beyond.

My first post¬†was about, erm, chocolate; and since then I’ve written about all sorts of Mill Road related things – from events, books¬†and recipes¬†to community projects, photography and the particularly popular topic of our local pubs. Thank you so much to everyone who has read any of my posts, been following me on Twitter¬†or who keeps up to date via¬†my Facebook page – there wouldn’t be much point without you! As a thank you to all you lovely people I¬†wanted to offer¬†the chance to win a lovely Mill Road prize, so I’ve decided to do a special giveaway. Those of you who have been following the blog may have noticed my penchant for pubs, food and art, so I thought what better than a prize¬†combining all three…

Earl of BeaconsfieldSince the Earl of Beaconsfield changed hands last year, the pub has been transformed into the place to be for music, with weekly events including the Monday night Open Mic sessions and regular Saturday night gigs – tomorrow you can catch the Watertight Jazz group and on 17th August following on from the Great Eastern Street Party, you can catch The Great Eastern Street Preachers. They have successfully carried on the tradition of serving the best pint of Guinness in Cambridge (which you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve tested and personally verified, all in the name of research…!)¬†and also now do sumptuous stone-baked pizzas. Susie & Matt at the Beaconsfield have very kindly offered ¬£30 of vouchers for the giveaway!

FrameworksFrameworks have been catering to the picture framing needs of Cambridge artists and art lovers for over twenty years and moved to their Mill Road home back in 2011, but what may be less well known is that they offer free mountboard to local school and charity groups. I love that every two weeks there’s a new exhibition to look at in their window – one of my favourites has been food artist Jimi Kazak – and during the Romsey Art Festival (which runs until 17th August) you can see the work of local artist Sarah Blake. The lovely chaps at Frameworks have offered a ¬£20 voucher for the giveaway!

ONE LUCKY PERSON WILL WIN:
2 x £10 vouchers for the Earl of Beaconsfield, each voucher entitling the recipient to one of their delicious stone-baked pizzas plus a pint/glass of wine/soft drink AND
1 x £20 voucher for Frameworks, for the recipient to spend at their picture framing shop on Mill Road.

THERE WILL ALSO BE A RUNNER-UP PRIZE OF:
РA £10 voucher for the Earl of Beaconsfield, entitling the recipient to a stone-baked pizza and drink.

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is one of the following:
1. Subscribe to this blog (which means you’ll be the first to hear about new blog posts, as you’ll receive a notification email) before the closing date, by entering your email address in the ‘Follow this blog’ section, near the top right of the home page. To let me know that you want¬†this¬†to count as your entry into the competition (or if you’re already following the blog)¬†please add a comment at the bottom of this blog post (or instead of a comment you can send an email to theressomethingaboutmillroad@hotmail.co.uk) by¬†the closing date.
OR
2. Follow me on Twitter and retweet any of my Twitter posts marked #MillRoadGiveaway Рonly applies to posts on/before 21st August (you can retweet more than one post if you like, but it will only count as one entry for the draw).
OR
3. If you want to double your chances you can do both of the above! ūüôā

So if you’ve acquired some art at the Romsey Art Festival and need to get it framed, or you’re looking for the perfect excuse to pop to the pub – why not enter the giveaway. Good luck! ūüôā

Rules: This giveaway is open to UK residents only and the winners will be independently drawn at random from all those who have completed step 1, 2 or 3 above by the closing date. Entry is free. Automated entries not accepted. The closing date is Wednesday 21st August at 11:59pm. The draw will take place within seven days of the closing date. When notified of their win, the prize winners will need to provide a UK postal address for their prizes to be sent to. In the event of being unable to contact the winner/s within fourteen days of the draw, another winner/s will be drawn. By entering the draw, entrants agree that in the event of them winning the competition their name and city/town can be published on this blog (and associated accounts on Twitter and Facebook).

Romsey Art Festival

Romsey Art Festival posterThe first ever Romsey Art Festival starts on Saturday and will run until 17th August. The idea for the festival was developed by a group of artists at Cambridge Art Salon last year and over the last few months they have been busy organising and co-ordinating a whole host of events to run across the fortnight Рincluding art activities, exhibitions and a market, as well as poetry, film screenings, music, workshops and talks.

Art Market PosterThis Saturday looks set to be the main day of activity, with events taking place throughout Romsey and along Mill Road. There will be an Arts¬†& Crafts Market¬†organised by LittleBiggs – local artists Ceri Ann Littlechild and Dan Biggs – featuring jewellery, ceramics and¬†various art works for sale,¬†as well as portrait artists on hand on the day¬†and also a live mural painting which everyone can join in. The market runs from 10am¬†until 3pm at Hope Street Yard and there will also be food stalls there¬†courtesy of local¬†ice cream extraordinaire Jacks Gelato and burger experts Steak & Honour. A little further down Mill Road you can find Cambridge Cinema Shorts presenting films at Romsey Labour Club, including a children’s screening¬†at 11am¬†and a 15+ screening at 2pm. There’s also a Bento Workshop at the Junction from 12-3pm¬†and a¬†Creative Writing Workshop run by Patrick Widdess at the Bath House on Gwydir Street from 2-5pm; and if you missed the recent Cambridge Open Studios exhibitions then you can catch artists Susie Olczak & Harry Gray hosting their own open studios at 53a St Philips Road from 10am-5pm.

Shindig closing partyDr Doodleys Drink & Draw is a fortnightly meet up for local artists which started last year, and on 6th August¬†Sa’adiah Khan will be hosting their next event – ‘Collabradoodle’ will¬†look at challenging ideas of control and restraint in art and is at Hot Numbers from 7-9pm. The¬†Cambridge Map Project¬†will also be hosting various events (see the festival blog for more info and a full list of events) and if you’re planning to head down to the festival then do keep an eye out for new art works popping up around you – the event organisers were recently looking for residents and groups to donate the walls of their buildings for art. Rounding off proceeedings¬†on 17th August will be a special closing party, hosted by Shindig. If you haven’t heard of Shindig before it’s a collaboration of alternative music, arts and entertainment and they host regular nights across Cambridge, including¬†Mill Road. The closing party will be held at St Philip’s Church on the corner of Thoday Street, 8-11pm.

It looks like there’ll be plenty going on and lots of new things to try – I¬†love Japanese food and¬†really want¬†to go along to the Bento Workshop, but it’s on at the same time as the Creative Writing Workshop, and the Art & Craft Market… decisions, decisions!

Cambridge Open Studios 2013

Saturday saw the opening of the 2013 Cambridge Open Studios – an annual exhibition where¬†local artists¬†open up their studios and homes to the public across four weekends in July. It’s a great opportunity to find out more about the artists and see where they work, as well as enjoy¬†what is probably the¬†largest art exhibition in Cambridge (albeit at a range of venues)¬†– there are over 269 artists taking part this year!

Jersey CowThe roots of Cambridge Open Studios go back to the 1960’s and this year’s exhibitors include sculptors, potters, ceramicists, silversmiths, furniture makers and printers – as well as those working with more traditional media – so there should be something for everyone. I usually take the opportunity to go and see work locally when the exhibition is on and this year there are over twenty exhibitors on and around Mill Road alone – including animal sculptor JJ Vincent,¬†jewellery designer Lindsay Duff and painters Sheila Farrant¬†and Tim O’Brien. This year I’ll also be¬†taking a trip out to some of the ones further afield – if you haven’t seen Georgia Record‘s artwork yet then I highly recommend a viewing. Her work is mainly oil painting on canvas, stick-and-ink drawings and photography and she’s one of the most exciting young artists whose work¬†I’ve seen!

You can search for exhibitors by name, location, media type or even on a map. You don’t need to book and it’s free, so if you want¬†to get to know your neighbours better why not drop in to some of the exhibitions near you!