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Lucinda Hayton

Perfect place for inspiration!

Sandy Kitching, head of marketing and publicity, with some of the exquisite crafts for sale at Blackwell
By Lucinda Hayton

Just what I needed on a dull, rainy day in March. Walking into Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, in Bowness, for the first time you are instantly hit by the light, airy, modern reception, full of colour, with the aroma of cappuccino drifting across from the cafe bar.

Knowing I was visiting a place of historic interest, a museum' image had sprung to mind and I'd instantly conjured up a picture of rather rotund ladies in their home-spun cardis greeting me in a dark corridor with a pot of elder flower tea. Ah, how wrong I was.

Sandy Kitching, head of marketing and publicity, greeted me with a huge smile, dressed in the latest 50s-style kick satin skirt and Mary Quant polka-dot style top - not a knitted vest insight.

Sandy's enthusiasm for Blackwell shines from every pore, and so it should, for it was Sandy's hard work and sheer determination that helped turn the former historic holiday home and, later, girls school, into the beautiful house of art' that it is today.

As I walked along the sunny corridors with their glossy pale-oak floors I couldn't help feeling that I'd been here before, such is the feeling of peace and warmth generated by the fabulous architecture and the fact that the majority of rooms were built to face the south.

Where better to display works of art that you can actually purchase for your own home.

As you stroll around the reception/cafe bar area you are seduced by beautiful pieces'.

Scarves from Lisa Skelton, a Yorkshire-based textile artist. I love her scarves in the latest hot and candy pinks, gorgeous tied over a little jumper or T-shirt for spring. Her work is also sold through Barney's of New York, the Conran Shop and Designers Guild.

Throws and cushion covers by Wallace and Sewell, who both graduated from the Royal College of Art. Their highly individual woven fabrics, made from wool and organza, are also sold through outlets such as Liberty and Co.

Handbags by the innovative young designer Kei Ito, who produces distinctive bags in a mix of fabrics, carefully cutting and pleating to construct striking sculptural forms that still function as fabulous handbags in a variety of sizes. I love the small greige (new in' colour, a mix of grey and beige) pleat bag - it folds flat for easy travel, great for a weekend away. Her work is really unique and best worn against a really tailored outfit, very art meets the city girl'.

Catherine Edwards is a trained bespoke boot and shoe maker. She makes hand cut, hand stitched leather goods including bags. She is now based in West Yorkshire.

taken from Leisure, Westmorland Gazette