It’s no secret that I love London and there’s nothing more fun for me than meandering around the city, seeing new sights and visiting new places – even after 14 years here I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. This point was totally proved last Sunday as I spent a sunny hour or two at Havelock Walk in Forest Hill for the Artists Open House as part of the Dulwich Festival. Havelock Walk is less than a minute from the station, and we lived in Forest Hill from 2010 to 2014. Do you think I ever visited before? Of course not.
A pretty cobbled mews, Havelock Walk is home to a community of artists, designers and musicians literally seconds from the roar of London Road and the South Circular. Yet stepping off the pavement and onto the cobbles and you feel transported to a totally different place, calm and tranquil, creative and unique. I was there to visit Place in Print who have a studio and were sharing exhibiting space with fellow designers Nancy Straughan and Pen & Gravy but took the opportunity to pop in and out of workshops, garage doors opening up to reveal endlessly high display space and so much inspiration. Part studios, part homes, part live-work space, it’s clear that this is a vibrant, supportive community.
At the end of the mews (or beginning, depending which way you enter it), I found Place in Print and stepped inside their welcoming workspace. They are a design studio, manufacturer and retailer specialising in locally-themed art, homeware and gifts and I love the play-on-words art and the bus blind scarfs. Of course I’ve come relatively late to the appeal of south-east London but over the last few years it really does feel like there’s a lot of love for this little pocket of the capital. Place in Print use simple but vibrant colours and designs creating iconic pieces that certainly I now always recognise when I see them out and about.
Nancy Straughan produces beautiful homeware and accessories crafted from her own unique range of organic printed fabrics and is so incredibly talented. I’ve known Nancy in a virtual sense through her beautiful blog, Hello Nancy, where she writes about interiors and lifestyle and was looking forward to meeting her but unfortunately she wasn’t well so that gives me the perfect excuse to pop back. I love her sophisticated colours and prints and picked up a pretty wash bag.
Pen & Gravy have been favourites of mine since I came across them whilst Christmas shopping at the Crafty Fox Market at the Geffrye Museum. I bought two beautiful dishes, one for my Mum and one for aunt and love the graphic design which Jamie draws freehand onto ceramics, lampshades and photographs to create unique patterned homeware and gifts. On display at the studio was a stunning yellow and black combination so I picked up a mug in each colour way to add to our ever-growing mug collection.
I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to check out the Artists Open House weekend and the great news is that it’s also on next weekend, 14th and 15th May from 11-6. From conversations I overhead, visitors were coming from far and wide so do pop along for a visit if you’re free and be prepared that you might be tempted into a little bit of shopping. It’s worth it alone for the giant inflatable pug…
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