When a design fair crops up outside of London, it serves as a reminder that creative talent is not confined to the capital. Now in its sixth year, the Hidden Art Cornwall Design Fair is promising to prove that the region has what it takes. Later this month (20-21 August), over 70 designer-makers including Louise Dart, Charlotte Tangye and Nicholas Langan, will gather at Trereife House in Penzance, Cornwall.
Cornwall has long been a hub for artists and designers. Barbara Hepworth is commemorated in the Trewyn Studio in St Ives while the works of Whistler, JMW Turner and Sickert are well known. Today, designers still flock to the area.
One such local – and loyal – independent designer is Charlotte Tangye. She has exhibited at every Cornwall Design Fair since moving from Manchester to Falmouth five years ago. While living in Manchester, Tangye struggled to find the inspiration to sketch. But now, she loves drawing the working boats and dramatic skylines of Falmouth Harbour, Flushing and Tate St.Ives that adorn her porcelain china and lampshades. She sketched them from the balcony of her studio at Jubilee Wharf in Penryn at dawn.
Her latest work, which she will soft launch at Cornwall Design Fair, includes a mirror with an etched skyline design. "It is a really high quality show in a beautiful location and has a lovely atmosphere,” says Tangye who has featured in national publications including Elle Decoration, The Times and Observer. Her quirky ‘Footprint’ range of wire storage products was snapped up by Heal’s a few years ago. “I particularly appreciate the opportunity to meet up with other designer-makers and to get feedback from visitors on new work."
The local area equally inspires fellow Cornish designer Nicholas Langan of Journeyman Furniture. “My designs come from sustainable certified sources, some of which is sourced directly from Cornwall and the South West. [At Cornwall Design Fair,] There will be a set of furniture comprising chair, mirror, standing lamp and side tables made in rippled ash which came from the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall and elm from Somerset."
It is Langan’s wooden footprint table that propelled him to design fame after the V&A exhibited it during last year’s London Design Festival. "Footprints have been carved into the top and out of the underside, so to the viewer it looks as if the table has been walked on and the surface has been pushed through to the other side. The technique that was used to create the footprint table can be customised and applied to furniture and other surfaces. The possibilities are only really limited by ones imagination.” It will be at the Cornwall Design Fair. Langan says, “Visitors frequently comment on the high quality, diversity, talent and passion of the participants at the event. In the past I have had numerous discussions with visitors to my stand stating that they simply did not know that the standard of work and product on display at the Cornwall Design Fair was available in the county.”
Also showing at the fair will be Louise Dart who runs Kitsch Attic in Rock. She spends her days scouring second hand stores and auctions around Cornwall for antique furniture to restore. She will be showing her lovingly restored furniture, cushions and lampshades at the fair. “What I love most about antique and retro furniture is the story it tells," says Dart. "When stripped a chair will reveal it’s history; from a date sticker to a signature from the maker.”
“Cornwall has a large amount of very talented artists and designers but it is very difficult to live here and make a living in the industry.” Dart says, “Cornwall is very seasonal and many artists and designers leave for the big cities or stay and struggle to get their work noticed.” A fair such as this is imperative to supporting local talent outside the capital.