Call for Makers: An interview with Jon Tutton of MADE London & Brighton.


Whether you’re a craft lover planning creative trips for the year ahead or a maker exploring exhibition opportunities, the news that MADE London and Brighton are returning this year is very exciting for the contemporary craft industry. These shows are significant events – they present innovative, beautiful and exceptionally well made craft in an accessible way to the public and provide opportunities for makers well beyond the events’ opening hours! We especially love the friendly and welcoming atmosphere created by the show organisers Tutton and Young Ltd. We can’t wait to visit and definitely recommend you put the dates in your diaries!

Former MADE London & Brighton exhibitor Emily Kidson.

Applications are now open for makers to exhibit, so we caught up with organiser Jon Tutton to find out about the application process and what he and his team have been working on whilst the shows have been paused….

Katie: It was so good to hear the news that you’re bringing your shows back to London and Brighton this year. You’ve definitely been missed! Obviously a lot has happened in the world over the last 3 years which meant that your shows had to be put on hold. We know you’ve been very busy though and you haven’t exactly been ‘resting’ have you?! Tell us about what you’ve been creating for contemporary craft in Brighton.

Jon: I don’t think ‘resting’ is quite the word. Whilst the shows were on hold due to Covid, we took the somewhat Quixotic decision to renovate and open quite a large art venture in three long ex-fisherman’s arches on Brighton beach to create the ATELIER BESIDE THE SEA. It’s an Art and Craft Gallery with newly curated group and solo art shows every seven weeks or so. One arch is a dedicated print gallery, another is stocked with work by designer makers from across the country – many of whom we have met at our shows, and the third is a teaching space where we have art and craft classes as well as being a unique events space. 

Starting a complex bricks and mortar operation during covid and then running straight into a cost of living crisis has been a challenge, but two years in we find ourselves a popular and much loved part of Brighton’s thriving art and craft scene with visitors from across the world paying us a visit. 

We have Instagram to thank for bringing artists (especially printmakers) and makers together with an international audience during the global pandemic, but it feels great to get back to face-to-face interactions and to allow buyers to see and experience the work in person. We are really looking forward to continuing this at the MADE shows this autumn.

Katie: I’ll never forget my first visit to MADE London. It was a feast for the eyes – an amazing selection of exhibitors and the venue was beautiful. You’re certainly known for presenting makers and artists’ work in spectacular spaces. What’s the new venue for MADE London? 

Jon: Our new venue ‘The Block’ is very, very new. It has only just been built! The location is fantastic, being just a few paces away from Angel underground station in Islington and more or less backing on to the Craft Council’s HQ. The exhibition space is set over two floors with a cool, industrial feel, high ceilings and great light – the perfect backdrop!

Apart from the prime location, what excites me about the venue is that it’s the perfect ‘goldilocks’ size: big enough for us to have a substantial show with lots to see, but not so big that we have to compromise on the quality of the exhibitors we select. And, with its new state-of-the-art facilities, it promises to be a very comfortable experience for visitors too. We aim to be the best and most exciting craft and design fair in the country.

Katie: Can you tell us a bit about the venue for MADE Brighton and how would you describe your different shows to makers and visitors?

Jon: We describe MADE Brighton as a national craft fair for Brighton; we seek to attract the best makers to exhibit in the best venue the city has to offer. MADE Brighton takes place at the end of November and is pretty much a one-stop show where you can start and finish your holiday shopping for special gifts with original, quality work from Britain’s best makers. Both of our MADE shows offer a brilliant lineup of printmakers, jewellers, textile artists, ceramicists, homewares and more.

We began MADE Brighton in the city’s stunning Corn Exchange – the Prince Regent’s huge riding school, with the widest span of timber arched roof in the UK. The venue has been subject to extensive and painstaking renovations, which have both restored its splendor and brought the facilities bang up to date.

We’ve waited seven long years to bring MADE Brighton back to the Corn Exchange and we’re thrilled to be the first show of our kind in the newly refurbished space! Located in the historic heart of one of Britain’s most creative cities, right in the centre of museums, restaurants, bars and independent shops, MADE Brighton is the perfect centrepiece for a day out – or even a weekend away – on the South Coast. Don’t forget to visit Atelier Beside the Sea while you’re here!

Previous MADE London exhibitor Virginia Graham.

Katie: I tend to make a beeline for ceramics and jewellery. Are you personally drawn to any particular craft or medium?

Jon: Ceramics is always interesting – I appreciate the skill and the craft of a well-made pot. We’ve bought some ceramics in anticipation of one day having the right cottage to house them in! I also like the vibrancy of ceramics from makers coming from a different direction – say an art or illustration direction. The clash of cultures can produce stunning work. 

Again, I’m also drawn to culture clashes in jewellery, where animators, artists or puppeteers decide to make jewellery and come up with unexpected and delightful results.

Previous MADE London exhibitor Kate Bajic.

Katie: You’re open to applications for London and Brighton now. How do you and your selectors curate your shows – what do you look for in an exhibitor?

Jon: What we look for is passion, whether it’s a passion for the traditional vernacular of a certain craft but edging it towards a modern iteration, or a passion for new forms. We don’t think of MADE as having a house style, nor do we want to follow any particular trends. Instead we want work that the maker believes in, and that is unique/true to them and looks fresh, innovative and exciting.

Katie: Once you’ve chosen your exhibitors it must be such an exciting stage – designing the show and planning the visitors’ experience. Have you got any tips for makers who are thinking about applying?

Jon: Good photos always help! And somehow showing your passion for what you do.

You hear horror stories about certain exhibitions. The selection panel dozing as pictures are wheeled past! Our selection process is not like that at all. We do our research. The initial judgement is of course based on the photos submitted, but if there is any doubt (yea or nay), we delve deeper, looking at CV’s, links to any online resources, website, Instagram, Facebook, press articles – anything we can find to really inform our decision either way.

The last stage is trying to find a balance of exhibitors to make sure that we have a good spread between different disciplines and different styles. Then we design the stand layout to make for a show that flows with interest around every corner. All to put together a really great and exciting exhibition for the visitors. We hope you enjoy your visit!

Previous MADE Brighton exhibitor Suzanne Breakwell.

Katie: Thank you Jon, we’re really looking forward to visiting both shows and are very happy to be sponsoring you again with awards for makers. We’ll eagerly await you announcing the exhibitor lists once you’ve made your selections.

If you’re a maker and you’re interested in exhibiting at the shows visit the MADE London website here and MADE Brighton website here. You’ll find all the information you need, such as timings, pricing and stand size, and you can apply as an individual maker or as a group. The deadline to apply to London is 31st March and the Brighton deadline is 7th April.

MADE London will take place 3rd-5th November and MADE Brighton 24th-26th November.

See you there!

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