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A giant jigsaw puzzle

I have nearly finished my giant jigsaw puzzle that is The Newburgh Priory Christmas Fair ! Like most jigsaws, when it comes to slotting in the last few pieces, they slot in pretty quickly!

Preparations for the fair start in January although I am on the look out for artists and exhibitors throughout the year. I commission an artist to illustrate the invitation, to make for a more personal, colourful and enticing invite. This year, friend and artist, Christopher Brown, very kindly agreed to take on this task. I knew the outcome would be good and the end result didn't disappoint! I think you'll agree, Christopher's illustration (shown below) is magnificent! The design of the layout was carried out by Christopher Bird who did a brilliant job; the icing on the cake!

Thursday 29th November 5pm - 9pm Tickets £10 (to be purchased in advance)

Friday 30th November 10am - 5pm Tickets £5 (purchase on the door)

Saturday 1st December 10am - 5pm Tickets £5 (purchase on the door)


This year brings a wave of new exhibitors to the fair, in fact over 75% are new additions AND coming from all over the country such as *Nant Designs based in Wales, *Kitty Mackenzie (Scotland), Punica (Dorset), *Michael Parkin Fine Art (Norfolk) and Fitz & Fro (London)! I feel honoured they are coming from such a distance. *new exhibitor

More local to the area are York based milliners, Anita Gordon & Louise Cameron AKA Rose & Flo I am constantly intrigued by the making and inspiration behind a product and was delighted when Anita & Louise said they would take part in a short Q&A session which I would like to share with you:

What’s your background and what led you to become an milliner?

Louise and I met at the school gate a few years ago and soon realised we both had a shared passion for creativity. Louise was making children’s hand crafted hairbands and I have always sewn soft furnishings for my house. We decided to book onto a millinery course, it was a natural progression for Louise and I had looked into millinery courses in the past. We loved it which led us to set up Rose and Flo Millinery. Rose is Louise’s Mum and Flo is my Mum!

What inspires your work?

We are inspired by the variety materials and colours which can be used in Millinery. A millinery supplier is a a treasure trove and this can inspire new ideas and we often start with a material or trimming which catches our eye. Meeting clients also inspires us as we can develop an understanding of them and create a hat or fascinator which is truly bespoke.

How has your practice developed over time?

We have taken several courses to develop new techniques and work with new materials. Learning from other milliners is a great way to expand our skills. Louise and I have a great partnership and bounce ideas off each other which works well. Creating new pieces can sometimes be challenging and we use each other which can inspire the next step.

Is there a material or technique you are most comfortable working with?

Sinemay is a great natural material which can be moulded in a variety of ways. It is quite often the base of a hat or fascinator and we use blocks (wooden hat shapes) to shape it. You can also block other materials such as felt and parasisal. We both enjoy the blocking process as you can see the hat beginning to take shape.

What are you working on next?

We are working our Autumn/Winter collection as well as working for clients. We have used some wonderful Yorkshire Tweed which has all the Autumn colours and we also have some made felt fedoras which we love.

Describe your creative process, what are the major steps?

When we work together we will have several ideas which we share and quite often will have found a material, colour, feather or trimming we want to use. We work together in our workshop (in Louise’s garden) and will initially draw a draft of what we are making. We will often work on our own designs separately but come together before finishing the hat or fascinator. We can look at each others pieces and tweak before it’s finally finished. Working for a client is a different process as by the end of the consultation with them we will have the shape, size, colour and design in place.

What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your work

We have been following the collection by Rodarte. Their pieces use a variety of materials and their collection has a lots of silk flowers on the pieces and on headpieces. We make our own silk flowers and would like to incorporate them in more of our designs with different materials.

How do you get unstuck creatively?

Having a partner to work with is a great asset, a different perspective is invaluable. We can both see when the other one is stuck and looking at it together is the best way to become unstuck! We will quite often get out an array of materials and start putting them together to create new ideas. The recent Royal Weddings were a great showcase of hats and fascinators and seeing other people’s work can give you new ideas and influences.

Tell us about a project which has been your greatest achievement.

We had a client who wanted two fascinators for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot which is a fantastic display of hats! She contacted us afterwards to say how delighted she had been and how many positive comments she’d had.

How often do you update your stock?

We add to our collection in Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter so twice a year.

Excitingly there are two last minute exhibitors who are joining the fair; Alfred Enderby Smoke House one of the oldest independent traditional fish smoking firms in England. Specialising in Haddock and Salmon. 'We pride ourselves on the high quality of skill and craftsmanship that goes into our now award winning smoked fish products'. In 2018 Alfred Enderby Ltd received two Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food - A three star 'exquisite' award for their smoked salmon and a two star 'outstanding' award for their smoked haddock. Enough said!

Above images credit to Alfred Enderby

... and Leaf Song - textile artist, Sue Walsh, works with nature, creating botanical textiles with eco-colour & print. Sue will be selling her beautiful silk scarves which are individually ecoprinted and overdyed using all natural dyes. Ecoprint is a method of extracting a contact print from foliage (sometimes flowers) by wrapping the leaves and prepared fabric very tightly, then steaming. Sue uses local plants and is careful to be as environmentally friendly as possible in her process.

Sue will also be selling silk ribbon which you can use for wrapping presents, decoration and makes for a wonderful present. The silk Sue uses for her ribbon is recycled silk which is a by-product of the sari industry; 'I am happy to say that the women who are employed retrieving this silk are paid a proper wage. This is a slightly rustic looking chiffon silk, which takes the natural dyes that I use beautifully. The natural dye palette is unique, and there is a kind of harmony between all the colours, as they seem to have a subtlety and lustre that synthetic dyes lack. I use recycled papers for my packaging, from florist paper to envelopes, brown [recycled ] paper bags and even my business card is printed using recycled materials. I try not to use plastic in my processes - other that reusing plastic farmers buckets in my studio! If I use a technique which requires a barrier in the printing I use biobags which are made from compostable cornstarch. I compost all the leaf matter that I use'.

Above, Leaf Song images

To see a full list of super lovely and super talented exhibitors, please visit:


The fair opens with the reception evening on Thursday 29th November, 5-9pm, tickets £15 (to be purchased in advance via or, email:

This year the Ampleforth Schola Cantorum will sing carols in front of the impressive 17th century chimneypiece, sculpted by the early-Baroque architect Nicholas Stone. This will take place between 6.30pm - 8.30pm.

Every customer will received a fabric tote bag, handmade by me! Friends have generously donated fabrics for the bags; they are a riot of colour and such fun designs. There will also be complimentary drinks and sausage rolls on offer. The evening will be a feast of festive fun!


Ed Kluz talk, Friday 30th November, 11am (tickets to be purchased in advance)

On Friday 30th November at 11am illustrator and printmaker Ed Kluz will host a talk on his recent book 'The Lost House Revisited'. Tickets cost £15 and include entry to the fair. Tickets must be purchased in advance and I have to warn you, there aren't many left, so be quick if you are keen! Again, please book via my website or, email me

There is an opportunity to purchase Ed's beautiful book after the talk and if you ask him nicely, he might even sign it for you!

Right: artist Ed Kluz, below: the Justice Room where Ed will host his talk

On Friday afternoon, there is a Christmas wreath workshop hosted by Manor Garden Flowers Tickets are £40 and includes all materials, refreshments and entry to the fair.

The wreath workshop is an excellent opportunity to create your own masterpiece under the expert eye of artisan florist, Clarey Wrightson - this event will be held in The Black Gallery (shown below) thought to be one of the oldest parts of the house.

The Black Gallery

Last but not least; on Saturday 1st December at 11am Liz Druce of The Gingerbread House will host a ginger bread house workshop. Tickets £15 (child) £30 (adult) to be purchased in advance. This event will also be hosted in the Black Gallery (above).


Kirks Coffee House will be serving homemade food, refreshments and mulled wine on the Friday & Saturday of the fair (10am-5pm).

Kirks Coffee House

Huge thanks to Savills York and upside down design for their generous sponsorship and continued support.

Thank you to dear friend, Stephen Wombwell, for letting me invade

over the three days!

The fair is in support of juvenile arthritis which affects many children, including Stephen Wombwell's eldest daughter, Nonie. Nonie was five years old when she was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis; her arthritis is under control for now and 'Nonie has learnt that sometimes her legs are going to hurt and she just has to grit her teeth and get on with it; in no way does JIA hold her back'. This leads me onto introducing the Patron of the fair, Pamela Relph MBE, who also suffered from JIA. Pamela has gone on to become a British adaptive rower who won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics, becoming the first double gold medalist in Paralympic rowing!

Just goes to show, juvenile arthritis doesn't have to stop you from leading your life the way you want to and that anything can be achieved.

Pamela Relph MBE


If you have managed to get through all my blurb and you are still reading this - thank you and I hope you might like to visit the fair given the opportunity. It means so much to me and my exhibitors and if we can help support JIA along the way, so much the better. My next (big) thank you is to all of those incredibly kind and patient journalists who have received endless press releases, emails and phone calls from me! The press coverage has been out of this world! I am eternally grateful to those who have written about the fair and Newburgh Priory and even, little old me, being quoted in the Daily Telegraph yesterday - THANK YOU - it makes it all worthwhile.

That's all folks and thanks for reading!

Georgie xxx

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