Art and Craft in Devon

A Crafty Look at our Local Makers and Artists.

This article was written on 12 July 2022
and is a 5 minute read

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With its gorgeous countryside and stunning coastline, Devon has long been a haven for creative people. This month, we visit some local attractions where art is at the heart of what they do. Try your hand at a new skill, purchase a special memento of your holiday, or just appreciate works from a wide range of local artists.

Honiton is an East Devon gem, historically famous for its expert lace making (the lace being used in Queen Victoria’s wedding veil). One square centimetre of lace could take up to five hours to produce! Its production can be traced back to the early 1600s and was used for fine detailing on clothes. You can find out all about this fascinating skill in the Nicol Gallery of the Allhallows Museum or, if you’re feeling ambitious, perhaps purchase your own lace-making kit from the gift shop.

The town’s Thelma Hulbert Gallery is an award-winning public art gallery run by East Devon District Council. It hosts a programme of contemporary arts and crafts exhibitions. Until 23rd July 2022, they are showcasing pieces made by the Devon Artist Network, featuring painting, sculpture, pottery, glass and textiles. Check their exhibitions website for the latest displays and events. It’s free to visit and you can park right outside in the large public car park.

If you’d like something a little more hands-on, why not have a go at throwing a pot at the Honiton Pottery Workshop? You can book a class on their website. A fantastic ‘rainy day’ activity for children is to create a unique souvenir of their holiday by painting ceramics or, if you can get together a group of ten or more, why not pre-book a painting party?!

A short journey to the coast takes us to Beer, an historic fishing town. Wander up the cliffs behind the beach to appreciate the views that have inspired artists in the area for centuries. The Marine House and Steam Gallery at Beer are sister galleries in the centre of the town, showing selections of work by over 100 people. Several times a year, the galleries host major solo shows from leading artists.

Inspirational Beer Coastline (M Thorne)

From Beer, head west to Sidmouth and simply “potter” (forgive the pun!) up the High Street for more galleries, including the cluster of six at Libra Court, towards the beach-end of the road. Jewellery-lovers will be in their element at Flutterbys, an “Aladdin’s cave” of gems, buttons, chains, ribbons and other jewellery-making kit. This is a really special treat for little makers, who will love browsing the charms and beads and selecting those special bits to create their own accessories.

Otterton Mill continues to produce artisan flour in their historic water mill, but these days it is equally well-known for the huge range of items on sale in the shop. From pottery to painting, jewellery to candles, you’re bound to find a treat to tempt you. Free parking is available on-site, but if you’d like to make a day of it, instead park at the large sea-front car park at Budleigh Salterton and walk up the stunningly beautiful estuary to Otterton. It’s about a 5-mile round trip with easy, flat walking and you’re bound to see plenty of wild birds on the way too.

Gifts from Otterton Mill

House of Marbles is an unusual attraction at Bovey Tracey (the “Gateway to Dartmoor”), where you can find out all about marble-making, its history and the extraordinary tools used to create them. Naturally, there are plenty of marbles on sale, as well as a large range of traditional games, toys and other gifts. To the rear of the building, marvel at the glass-blowers, demonstrating their mesmerising skill in the Teign Valley Glass Studios.

Are you a budding apiarist? You can book a one-day Introduction to Bee Keeping course at Blackbury Honey Farm. This family-run honey farm in the beautiful East Devon countryside was established in 2010. They believe their 120 hives to produce the best honey in East Devon!

If you’re looking for real insight into an artist’s methods, for two weeks every September, members of the Devon Artist Network – potters, painters, jewellery makers, wood workers and other creatives, open their doors to people who are interested in their work. You can chat to the artists themselves about their creative process or take the opportunity to purchase some unique artwork direct from its creator. Find the 2022 Venues (when released) on the Devon Open Studios website.

Potters Wheel

If all that hasn’t satisfied your creative urges, then you’ll be pleased to hear that a Google Search for “Devon Craft Fairs” will provide a wealth of information on further opportunities to see, learn about and purchase artists’ work across the county. If you find a crafty corner of the county that you think we should be telling our visitors about, do let us know!

As always, we try to ensure all information provided in our blogs is accurate and up to date, but, to avoid disappointment, please check with an attraction before travelling.