Arts & Entertainment
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From Loft To Loved: now on The Square
In Sedgefield for four years now, From Loft to Loved is firmly established as a prime local asset for crafting and craft shopping. Fans travel from as far as Darlington & York for its offering of unusual, original stock lines, its workshops and the enthusiasm & warmth of management team, Kim & Sarah. So successful has it become that FLTL has moved from North End to The Square in order to obtain larger premises & expand their portfolio of products from nearby artists & craftspeople, for whom the shopfront is a talent showcase.
Bedding in at the new store was not as straightforward as Kim and Sarah might have expected, coinciding as it did with the government’s imposition of restrictions on our movement, which hit the retail sector hard. Not only that, but crafting workshops, which are central to the identity of FLTL, making it a community hub as well as a lovely shop, had to be curtailed & they currently remain on hiatus awaiting further government instructions. Nonetheless, the shop is now firmly back in business & thanks to its popularity here in Sedgefield, there was no shortage of volunteers to help to move stock get set up. As you would expect, the new shop already looks amazing, though it is, in Sarah’s words still a work in progress.
When I paid a visit to discover what we might expect from FLTL in the new year, I learned that the extended family of suppliers, shoppers & craft workshop attendees all contribute to its special feel of a far larger family than a typical shop. During the first lockdown, when many regular attendees were at risk of becoming quite socially isolated, Kim was making rounds & paying visits to make sure they were OK.
Of course, the craft workshops are the shop’s unique feature, and both Sarah & Kim miss running them very much. A successful workshop, where people get a real sense of pride and satisfaction in something that they have made, was identified by Sarah as one of the most rewarding parts of the job. No return date is confirmed yet, but plans are in place to expand on established favourites, like candle making, furniture painting, & decoupage with courses in embroidery, water-colour painting, jewellery making, and creative writing when classes can resume. Classes are sometimes run by the shop’s suppliers, and sometimes by Kim & Sarah, both of whom have experience running psychology courses for inmates on behalf of the prison service, so are prepared for almost anything! No mishap or catastrophe has derailed a course yet, and mistakes are welcomed as an opportunity to learn how to correct them, literally to ‘style them out’. Fun as well as informative & rewarding work.
There is now a real boom in crafting & making-at-home in the UK and FLTL is central to this ethos here in Sedgefield. Beyond an enjoyable shopping experience, a real spirit of community is engendered by bringing people together to work on something challenging & new - a real asset to the village. As part of a much bigger ecosystem of local artists & craftspeople working full or part-time, who don’t want to open a shop to sell their products, Sarah and Kim’s format is a perfect fit. So if you haven’t seen the new shop, be sure to have a look next time you pass, or take a look at the website for lovely & unusual gifts or conversation pieces. When the workshops resume, do book early to avoid disappointment. You can pick up a new skill while having fun, meeting new people & supporting a unique and key local business.
Creative Writing Online
Sadly, the return of lockdown this month has brought an end to the revival in arts & entertainments activities across the country. However, the extra spare time, solitude, & introspection which comes with enforced isolation makes a perfect melting pot for our own inspiration & creativity, which can be put to good use! Some fabulous opportunities for aspiring writers are available online during December, courtesy of New Writers North & Stockton Arts Centre among others.
Stockton Arts Centre is running a 2 hour online class in creative writing on 10th December from 10am, with writer & educator Joan Opie.
Two more workshops, both organized by ‘Anyone Can Write’ & free of charge, will be held on 4th December, for novice & intermediate writers) and on 14th December, for experienced writers. They will cover creative topics like structure, finding your writers’ voice and how to write dialogue, along with more practical concerns like funding and getting your projects green-lit. Both are available to all online.
On the evening of 10th December, New Writing North is hosting an online Fiction Writers Roadshow to provide support & advice for those looking to break into the industry. Speakers from the worlds of publishing, creative writing & literary agency will be followed by a Q&A session via Zoom. New Writing North is an organisation dedicated to developing writing talent in the North of England & this event is also totally free. Take advantage of adversity this winter, fire up the laptop or pick up your pen, and add your literary voice to those of Anne Fine, Jessica Andrews, Ann Cleeves & our many other North East writers. All the details follow.
Silver Creative Writing Course at Stockton Arts Centre (£5 fee) 10am on 10th December https://arconline.co.uk/whats-on/creative-writing
Free Introduction to Writing Bootcamp for Novice & Intermediate Writers at 6:30pm on 7th December https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/free-introduction-to-writing-bootcamp-for-novice-and-intermediate-writers-tickets-122710689977?aff=erelpanelorg Free Writers’ Workshop for experienced writers. 6:30pm 14th December https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/free-writers-workshop-for-experienced-writers-tickets-123528143001?aff=erelpanelorg New Writers North Online 6pm on 10th December (free) https://newwritingnorth.com/event/northern-writers-awards-roadshow-fiction/
Sedgefield WI celebrated the 100th Anniversary of its foundation in 1918 and held many events throughout the year. Members also decided to compile a book of memories of the last one hundred years. It is now available to buy, and contains 32 pages of recipes, photographs and memories.
The Centennial Celebration Book is available for £5 from Mrs. Elaine Thomson 01740 621562