A trip to Kigbeare Studios

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From the archives…

A couple of weeks ago we had a really enjoyable visit to Kigbeare Studios and Gallery – home to three of our Makers, ceramicist Bethan Jones, jeweller Corrinne Eira Evans and furniture maker Andrew Oliver. It was before the Spring sun came out – a grey and damp Devon day, but still beautiful with bright green bursts of new leaves, lichens and lush moss.

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The gallery is set in thick woodland, not far from the town of Okehampton, across a little bridge and up a winding driveway. The original farm buildings date from 18th/19th century, but the area is actually thought to have been part of a medieval settlement. The farmhouses and outbuildings have been restored and are now home to 10 studio workshops and a gallery space.

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Bethan Jones worked as an apprentice for ceramicist Lisa Hammond and has been at Kigbeare for a few years, creating her own range of functional slipware.

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After meeting Bethan at the Made By Hand Craft Fair in Wales a couple of years ago, Corrinne and Andrew left their studios in York and moved to Kigbeare. They now each have their own studio space and live in a cottage nearby.

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After tea and cake, and an energetic greeting from Wolfie the dog, we enjoyed a tour of their studios and gallery

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Bethan’s little pinched jugs on display in the gallery.

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Corrinne at her new bench – made for her by Andrew.

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Andrew’s supplies ready to be transformed…

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As well as being a beautiful place for makers to live and work, Kigbeare is also open to the public in different ways. Bethan runs regular ceramic workshops, and Corrinne is planning to start her own jewellery courses. There are often guest workshops run by makers from around the UK, including some by another of our makers, Hannah McAndrew. Visitors are welcome to see the studios throughout the year, but this is by appointment only so please do check their website or ring ahead. The entire studio and gallery space will be open to the public as part of Devon Open Studios in September.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Maybe it’s the amazing setting, but it feels like there’s a really strong connection to natural materials, a desire to make use of them but also preserve and celebrate them. Andrew is working on a new collection of furniture that makes use of the original state of the wood (sometimes complete with moss) and combines this with beautifully manipulated pieces. The atmosphere here is welcoming, relaxing and inspirational – well worth getting involved, joining a course or paying a visit!

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