On the 17th, 18th and 19th June 2022 I exhibited my work at the Royal Three Counties Show held at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire. This country show was my first foray into presenting my work to a wide audience.
After many hours of planning, preparing, making, assessing and generally fretting in the months leading up to it, I was finally ready!
The walls were up, the pictures were hung and the glass domes were all arranged on the table.
I had done everything I could to make it a successful show. Or so I thought.
I was soon to discover that not only had I forgotten a few key points about exhibiting but I had completely underestimated the English summer weather.
Travelling to the show on Friday morning the sky was bright blue and perfectly clear and the heat was already beginning to be felt. As the day wore on this heat was going to build and build having a serious impact on the amount of people walking round. By early afternoon it was heavy and humid in the tents and dry and hot in the direct sunlight. With very little breeze and limited shelter it soon became apparent that visitors to the show just didn't want to explore the event. The ice cold drinks on offer and the umbrellas outside the cider tent were far more attractive!
After a 11 hours on our feet we headed for home ourselves ready for a nice cool shower.
Saturday, however, was to be even more of a challenge!
The temperature dropped overnight and thundery showers rolled in. In just 24 hours we had gone from highs of 30 degrees C to lows of just 14 degrees C. Not only that but the first part of the day was plagued with extremely heavy downpours. Within a couple of hours standing in my display area I was so cold that my lips were turning blue. Thank goodness for the suppliers that were selling hot tea!
The rain, wind and cold meant that yet again many people were not taking the time to look at the stands they were either trying to look round quickly or had decided to visit on Sunday instead.
Sunday, like baby bear's porridge, was finally just right. Not too hot, not too cold and no rain. Perfect weather for looking round and stopping for a chat.
Over the three days many visitors stopped to look and admire the art work and all gave such positive feedback. It was wonderful knowing that so many people love what I do.
I had enquiries for bespoke orders, wedding bouquet recreations, memorial flowers and a large piece to hang in a country home.
Unfortunately I had made one big, glaringly obvious mistake. Nobody knew that they weren't real!
I hadn't made it clear to anybody that I had made each and every flower, leaf, berry and seed by hand.
Each flower petal had been cut, shaped and shaded before being arranged into complete flowers. Each leaf had been cut and wired individually before being shaded and assembled into twigs and branches.
Each element had been arranged and tied into bouquets before being mounted in the frames that had also been assembled by me.
Each frame had been finished by hand and hanging wire had been installed, by me.
Not once had I made this obvious.
Nobody knew what they were actually looking at.
Unique and individual pieces of art that had captured flowers and foliage so well that they were mistaken for real ones
Hours and hours of work creating each piece entirely by hand so that each arrangement looks like it has been picked from the garden or hedgerow.
There is no better compliment than my flowers being mistaken for real ones but I really should have helped everyone understand what I can create from the very beginning. It's no good making something look realistic if nobody has a clue that you even made it!
There are many things to take away from this event, lots of things to work on and lots of things to add to my next display. I can't wait to get stuck in and take what I have learnt to my next big show. Now all I need to do is choose which one.
One thing is for certain though, I'll definitely be wrapping myself up in thermals next time :)