Tag Archives: elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition

musings about the elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition in October 2021

The Pendle Heritage centre is such a fantastic place to spend some time, and be enveloped in all its magic and mysteries… The ancient stone barn is set in a beautiful location, nestled next to Heritage centre, across the cobbles from it and the parkland in Barrowford, surrounded by picturesque Lancashire countryside in the borough of Pendle witch country.

I felt very lucky to finally be able to hold my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage centre during the October half-term and Halloween in 2021. It’d been a longer wait than planned… as I’d originally booked it for October 2020, back in 2019, but due to Covid and lockdowns it was postponed to the following June. (you can read more about it in my last blog posts). 

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Guest artists

It had been my wish to share the space at my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition with guest artists, and be able to give them the opportunity to display their work and meet a different audience. But, I was glad I’d decided to wait and see how my first pop-up exhibition in June went, as it gave me the chance to figure out if I could fit an artist in the space downstairs. I knew there’d be room for at least 2 artists upstairs (as Covid was still around I limited it to just the 1 artist upstairs).

After organising some studio group events a few years ago, I was aware of the work involved, so to make it easier for myself I was just inviting guest artists I already knew. Covid made it more difficult, as some of the artists I asked, weren’t able to do events because they or close family members were in the ‘at-risk category’, thankfully 2 artists were able to join me for the Halloween weekend.

“My pop-up exhibition theme with it being held at the Pendle Heritage centre was alchemy and anything related to myths, magic, woodland creatures, nature and fairy tales.”

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Potter Barbara from Barbara Lea Pottery was downstairs with her magical ceramic fairy mushroom houses and textile artist Josephine from Phinefibre was upstairs with her colourful abstract fibre jewellery, cards, art and drum sticks.

It was lovely to be joined by these talented makers in the barn, but I felt under added pressure, as I really wanted the weekend be worthwhile for them…

Phew, I felt so relieved that we were quite busy with visitors all weekend!

To fit in my guest artists, the downstairs room needed rearranging. Normally I was sat making next to my main display, blocking the stairs. I moved my small making / packing table away from my display next to the entrance, but this didn’t work out as well for me as I wasn’t sat next to my display and couldn’t  chat with visitors when they’re looking at my displays and able give them more info about my pieces.

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The barn is what you’d call quirky, the downstairs room is kind of an awkward shape that doesn’t really lend itself for fitting in 6ft tables, although a table fits into the back of the room, I used this as an info and leaflet table, and moved them when my guest artist Barbara was in that space.

There needs to be a display table in the alcove next to the stairs, so people can see it when they are walking past the entrance and going into the Heritage centre. But, if you sit one side of the display table you’re blocking the stairs, and if you sit the other side of it, you’re blocking the way, with the room being at its narrowest there (it would originally have been 2 rooms). Next time I’m going to try moving my display table sideways and see if I can squeeze into the alcove with it and hopefully that’ll work better.

Apart from these niggles, it’s an amazing space with lovely energy, there’s big windows in the entrance section that let in lots of light, which is the other reason I was sat blocking the stairs, as it’s got the best light for making, allowing visitors to watch me working and chat with me about my creations.

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Upstairs, is even lovelier, with a great view of the Heritage centre, cobbled courtyard area and parkland beyond and sense of space with its high ceiling.  

If all goes well, I hope to return for another elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition there in October 2022, with guest artists joining me at both weekends and short 20-minute recycled jewellery making tasters on the Monday-Wednesday of the half-term week.

In my next blog post, you can read about my fascinating flower design journey of discovery.

There is magic all around us…

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, wishing you sparkles of light. Sam Rowena, elfin alchemy, Lancashire jewellery artist 

elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition October 2021

The Pendle Heritage Centre is such a magical place for my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition, I’m so looking forward to being there this October half-term. Its the perfect venue to visit for a day out, especially if its raining, you can spend some time learning about local history and the Pendle witches in the museum, find something lovely in the gift shop, have a coffee or eat lunch in the cafe overlooking the walled garden, then come by and visit me in the barn:
Saturday 23rd to Sunday 31st October 2021, 11-4pm

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Originally, I’d booked the barn in 2019 for the October half-term in 2020, but because of Covid it was postponed twice, thankfully it was able to go ahead in June 2021.

It was really lovely to be back doing an event after such a long time… sharing what I make with others really helped boost my self-confidence, and when some days were quieter I was happy to just be there in this beautiful place and sat making  jewellery.

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Many of the visitors that popped in to take a look loved my creations, treated themselves or got presents for loved ones. Wow, some of my glass pendants were even heading to Australia!

I’ve shared a bit of my background story about my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage Centre in my last blog post I wrote in the Spring.

Actually, there’s a number of reasons behind me being there…

It all began with me visiting the Pendle Heritage Centre in October 2019 with some extra jewellery pieces for my display in the gift shop in time for the Christmas shopping season and I saw that an artist was exhibiting his work in the barn. I thought I could do that, why don’t I do it and see how it goes? Whilst I was there, I mentioned that I’d be interested in doing it, and then ended up booking it for the following October…

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Really what prompted me to go for it, was the lack of good art and craft events in Lancashire, they are like gold dust and then there’s the problem of being accepted for a stall, as there’s an over-abundance of jewellery and glass makers.

Although 2019 had been quite a good year for me, I’d been teaching back down in London, and at a few 1-1 bespoke workshops, plus I’d taken part in some good events over the Spring and Summer. Then in the Autumn, when my applications for a number of events hadn’t been successful, it knocked my self-confidence and belief in what I make. Lots of things were going on in my head, I wondered if I should continue on my creative journey when the path seemed so difficult.

“I decided not to ‘give up’ as I felt that sure that other opportunities would appear!”

I decided to try and see it as a positive, maybe this rejection of my work and not getting into these events was actually helping me move in the direction I was supposed to go.  It gave me the push that I needed, to go outside of my comfort zone. and it spurred me on to book my first pop-up exhibition at the Pendle Heritage Centre. It also pushed me to try other things too… as it was around this time that I first heard about Barrica in the Park and emailed them about getting involved. 

My other reason behind me wanting to do my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition is related to my health.

Doing events on my own is quite physically demanding and as I get older, I don’t have the same amount of energy that I used to have. The early start, the drive, moving boxes, setting up and taking down the display and the long day, means I’m totally shattered afterwards… and that’s only a small part of the work, there’s all the preparation that goes into it beforehand. 

“In my head I believe I’m still young, but my body tells me otherwise”

I do enjoy the buzz of doing events, meeting and chatting with people about my makes, getting feedback on new work, finding customers that love and want to wear my creations, as well as the social side of getting the opportunity to catch up with other makers. But I’m having to be realistic and going forward, needing to be more selective of the events I choose to do and not do as many.

The beauty of my pop-up exhibitions, is that I only need to set up my displays once and then they’re up for the duration of my exhibition.  Although it initially involves a lot of extra preparation creating new displays, once they’re made, they can be used again at my next pop-up exhibitions.

Another positive is having the exhibition space to create displays so that I can share the story behind some of my makes, you can learn about how my daisy flower design is linked to witchcraft and how my fascination with the ancient spiral design led me on an amazing journey.

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“What’s best is I can make the most of being in a beautiful barn, where I’m able to sit making and chatting to visitors about my work and its inspiration, any sales are an added bonus!”   

Knowing how difficult it is to find good events, I also want to give a couple of local artists and makers that I’ve met at events (whose work is also related to witches, fairies, woodland creatures or spirituality), the opportunity to join me as a guest artist for 2 days at my pop-up exhibition. Sadly due to the ongoing Corona virus situation, a few of the artists and makers I invited, said they would have loved to be guest artists, but were unable to join me this time due to them – or close family – being in the ‘at risk group’, and are hoping to be able to come next year. 

I’m really happy to share that over the Halloween weekend – 30th and 31st October 2021 – I’m being joined by 2 local artists. Upstairs in the barn is a textile artist Phinefibre who creates magical felt work and downstairs with me is a ceramic artist Barbara Lee Pottery who creates the most enchanting fairy houses. 

For more info about the venue, visit the Pendle Heritage Centre website

“I hope you’ll get chance to come and visit my elfin alchemy pop-up exhibition in the barn at the Pendle Heritage Centre!”

Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, wishing you sparkles of light. Sam Rowena, elfin alchemy, Lancashire jewellery artist