Top celebrity craft makers head for Devon festival

A man sitting in front of pots.

Special guest at Craft Festival this year will be Keith Brymer Jones. - Credit: Craft Festival

Celebrity makers are set to add sparkle this Jubilee year at Craft Festival Bovey Tracey, writes SUSAN JAMES 

The hugely popular Craft Festival returns to its familiar schedule this June 17-19 for what will be its biggest and brightest creative event to date.  

A craftsman chopping wood.

Watch craftspeople in action at the festival. - Credit: Craft Festival

Celebrating its 18th year, the multi-award-winning juggernaut of craft and making, takes place in the idyllic setting of Mill Marsh Park, Bovey Tracey. It is popular with families, makers, collectors, and creatives of all ages. 

With over 200 designer makers from across the UK set to exhibit, plus the largest collection of live craft demonstrators and participative workshops, Craft Festival is set to be action packed. A host of free children’s activities will add to a joyful celebration of making.  

Special guests this year include proper craft celebrity as the event welcomes TV judge from Channel 4’s popular The Pottery Throw Down show and internationally successful potter, Keith Brymer Jones. Keith will be hosting a Master Class plus live audiences on Friday, June 17, talking about his recently published autobiography Boy in a China Shop.  

Crowds at a craft festival.

Craft Festival is held at Mill Marsh Park in Bovey Tracey. - Credit: Craft Festival

I caught up with Keith ahead of his first visit to the event, as he revealed: “I’d heard of Craft Festival, but never visited. Various crafts people had told me it is one of the best in the country. 

“The festival director Sarah James invited me to come along. From looking at the Craft Festival website I could see that the standard of exhibitors is extremely high as it is all meticulously curated. Everything you look at is incredible artisanship even if it is not to your taste, but this really adds credibility to the event,” he added. 

“I’m really looking forward to seeing all the exhibitors. There are a few people I already know, including Sue Pryke. It’ll be a great place to catch up with makers from across the country,” concluded Keith.  

A man with a modern art painting.

Jim Parkyn, Aardman Animation ambassador, will host family workshops across the festival weekend. - Credit: Craft Festival

Another special guest will be Jim Parkyn, Aardman Animation ambassador, renowned clay model maker and stop motion animator, who’ll host family workshops across the festival weekend.  Jim’s ‘Amazing Scene Machine’ experience will get everyone involved in making a group piece of art which will then be transformed into an animated film.  

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In Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Year, the event will also welcome The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) who support British crafts people by funding the training and education of talented and aspiring makers. They will be presenting past scholars, including award-winning shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey, in a spectacular giant hat tipi. QEST will be encouraging talented and aspiring craftspeople to apply for scholarship funding.  

Long-term partner MAKE South West (previously known as the Devon Guild) will feature a display of selected member’s work and craft demonstrations. MAKE South West be inviting makers to join their Green Maker Initiative (GMI) which provides support and advice for crafts people and groups committed to reducing their environmental impact. 

Modern art pots.

Laura Plant, a ceramicist and designer from Stoke-on-Trent, whose work features here, will be at the festival. - Credit: Craft Festival

This creative celebration that is Craft Festival will again bring together the best in British craft to Devon, and together with delicious local artisan food and live music, is set to offer visitors another sparkling day out in the heart of beautiful Bovey Tracey. 

About the organisers 

Craft Festival is a not-for-profit organisation which hosts live events in Bovey Tracey, Devon and in Cheltenham. Its new online portal connects design makers with the customer and provides a business advice service to makers. 

How to book tickets 

Craft Festival Bovey Tracey runs from Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19, 2022, from 10am to 5pm each day. 

Buy tickets in advance online to save on the door price. Advance tickets are £10 (£12 on the door) concessions £9 and accompanied children under 18 years enjoy free entry. 

A female shoemaker with her shoes in a red apron.

Shoemaker and QEST scholar Ruth Emily Davey from Machynlleth, Wales will be demonstrating at Craft Festival. Her handcrafted shoes are repairable and designed to last. - Credit: Craft Festival