Brenda’s First Craft fair at Inkwell

Our quarterly craft fairs support local artsist and artists from Inkwell to showcase and sell their work. For many, it’s the first time they have been involved in a fair and we hope that by giving people these opportunities it can assist towards professional development, build confidence, self esteem and purpose.

Brenda Briggs is an Inkwell studio artist who, in her own words, tells her story of how being creative at Inkwell has helped her on the journey to recovery from mental health issues and her experiences of her first craft fair this Autumn.

Our next craft fair is planned for the 2nd December where more artists will be displaying their original paintings, prints, jewellery and crafts. We do hope you can join us and support our local artsist and makers.

Brenda’s Story

“I slept reasonably well considering I had such a big day ahead of me – I had never done a craft fair before. Amanda (the Development worker) asked if I would like to take part as she really wanted some new artists at this particular fair so I decided to join in and have a stall!

My husband Paul and I arrived at 9.30am sharp and were kindly offered a cup of coffee by Amanda which made us feel settled and at home. I had the stall by the window which had a large paper star hanging above it, and we both felt very peaceful. Having my husband with me gave me much more confidence, he had also beautifully hand painted some stones which we put on the stall which he was thrilled about.

The day before, Stuart (a volunteer at Inkwell) had helped me hang my paintings on the wall to create a lovely display. I was so proud to see them all hung up and I feel I have come such a long way from when I first arrived at Inkwell 7 years ago. It’s been a very exciting and interesting journey for me.

My neighbour Colin had finished printing some greeting cards and gift tags he had made for me after photographing some of my paintings. They were absolutely fantastic and looked so high quality. The tags and cards were perfect for people who couldn’t afford an original painting, or didn’t have the room for a large piece of art so I sold these at £3.50 per card or set of gift tags which were presented in cellophane wrappers to make them look professional. I think they looked truly amazing! And they all sold out!”

Paintings by Brenda Briggs

Gift tags by Brenda Briggs

“Anyway, we sat for a short while and lots of people passed us to go to the children’s tent outside where they were building a cardboard city (which looked brilliant!) We did get a bit worried and thought we may not sell anything and passed the time chatting to the neighbouring stallholders. Eventually, a gentleman bought one of Pauls stones. This was our first customer and it felt Magic!

Throughout the day loads of people stopped and looked. I sold out of all my cards and gift tags and lots of small paintings too. People seemed to love them! My friend Jools (Colin’s partner) also popped in and she helped me rearrange my cards so that people could see they were all different designs. Colin has kindly offered to print more for me for the next fair I’m doing at Christmas. A lovely guy also introduced himself to me and said such lovely things about my paintings I nearly cried with joy. It was so emotional and I felt so good. I have come to understand it’s so important to believe in yourself, try and live in the moment and understand we are all unique and special.

I felt very apprehensive when I first started to paint and draw, I was worried people would view my work and judge me and I had very little confidence overall. My advice to others who may feel like this is don’t let anything hold you back! Just paint and go for it!

I have gone through many difficult times, but at the moment I am enjoying painting and life (as much as life can be enjoyed in what can be a difficult world). I love nature and walking and both these things are great levellers for me when I am feeling fragile. I am a sensitive person and this is reflected in my paintings. I love my paintings and I am truly proud of them as they help me forget my problems. I don’t see the point in doing them if I don’t love them!

I paint 2 or 3 times a week in my studio upstairs at Inkwell and these are very special times and years for me. I have met so many interesting people at Inkwell, people I can be really comfortable with and not have to be anything I’m not. Although I worked for 35 years as a hairdresser and 15 years as a nursery nurse I have had mental health problems all my life which gives me a good understanding of people, however, I have always been creative and I love colour, something I am expressing through art now.

At the Craft fair lots of people were interested in my paintings and said they would come and visit my studio. I think this is just amazing! I so appreciate people taking the time to stop and look at my work in this busy world where people are stretched to the limit. It means the world to me when they buy a painting or card from me. A few people also asked about the Xmas fair and I’m looking forward to having another stall in December. I had such a lovely day and received lots of lovely compliments.

All the staff at Inkwell have been so kind and good to me. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to thrive and all the help I get doing something I so enjoy! Life’s not easy, but with good people around it really helps as we all share ideas, listen to stories and pass the time in a lovely way.

One of my best friends who I have known 30 years came to the fair that day said ‘Brenda, you’ve come a long way. They’ve really helped you’

I’d also like to say thank you to the volunteers: Karl for helping us pack away at the end of the day and John for organising such brilliant music! And I look forward to having my next stall at the Xmas Craft fair!”

Brenda Briggs

Cardboard City

Jewellery stall

Vintage Stall at Inkwell Autumn Craft fair