cambridge contemporary crafts

Interview with Alison Hullyer

Interview, PrintsCambridge Contemporary CraftsComment
Rich Pickings Drypoint

Rich Pickings Drypoint


This month we are having a bird-themed exhibition with work by Cambridge-based artist Alison Hullyer. Alison’s prints and tea towels are longtime favourites at cambridge contemporary crafts and we're always excited to see her new designs. High time for a chat with one of our most popular artists!

Green Goldfinches Tea Towel

Green Goldfinches Tea Towel

Blue Silver Birches Tea Towel

Blue Silver Birches Tea Towel

Lime Woodland Tea Towel

Lime Woodland Tea Towel

  • How did you get started with your art career?
Autumn Branches Drypoint

Autumn Branches Drypoint

I did a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration, then set up my own business with the help of the Princes Trust.  They lent me money to buy an etching press.  I had my first printmaking exhibition in 1992 at the Lynne Strover Gallery.  It featured work inspired by a trip to India and Nepal earlier that year.

  • What inspires you?
Bullfinch Drypoint

Bullfinch Drypoint

I'm still inspired by travel, both near and far.  My most recent work features the wildlife I spot on my daily dog walks in Milton Country Park.  I see kingfishers quite often, which is always a thrill. One of them features in my latest drypoint print.

  • How do you go about making a new piece?

I seem to keep ideas in my head for ages or make little drawings of possible compositions in my sketchbook.  I take photographs of favourite trees or locations and use them as a starting point for a new print.  Then I work out the size of a new piece and draw it out full size.

Wallis Boats Collograph

Wallis Boats Collograph

  • What are the qualities you enjoy about the medium you work in?

Using the drypoint technique, I can achieve crisp black lines and white backgrounds, which I hope makes them feel quite contemporary.  Adding watercolour by hand also makes each print slightly different.

  • Which other artists do you admire?

There's so many!  I've always loved Matisse, especially his later more graphic work. I can't wait for Kettles Yard to reopen as the whole house in inspiring, especially the Alfred Wallis paintings and the gorgeous Brancusi head of Prometheus on the piano.  I also love the work of children's book illustrator John Burningham and printmakers John Brunsdon, Elizabeth Morris, Angela Harding and Angie Lewin.

  • Can you describe a typical working day?
Alison in her studio - 2018

Alison in her studio - 2018

I have to take the dog for a walk first or he doesn't settle.  I then answer any emails that have come in and sort out orders that have come through.  No two days are ever the same.  I could be designing for the stationery industry using a combination of hand-drawn and digital artwork.  Or I could be printing or painting all day, editioning work ready for exhibitions. I try not to spend too much time on social media but I think it is important to have a public profile as my work is so visual.  Instagram seems to work the best for me as I can show the process, which people seem to like.

  • How do you see your work evolving in the future?

I would like to produce some larger more abstract pieces.  I will also shortly be running some printmaking workshops from my new garden studio. 


Alison's exhibition at cambridge contemporary crafts run until 21st March. Make sure not to miss it! We are open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Alison Hullyer Exhibition 24th February - 21st March

Exhibition, PrintsCambridge Contemporary CraftsComment
Winter Berries©.jpg

This February, we are very excited to have local printmaker and illustrator Alison Hullyer as our featured artist. Alison’s work has been gracing our gallery walls since we first opened and it has grown ever more popular over the years. Our exhibition will focus on one of Alison’s favourite themes: birds. From the stylised goldfinch on her tea towels to the monochrome wren on her mini relief print and the hand-coloured blue tit on her latest drypoint, come in to see the entire range at cambridge contemporary crafts until 21st March!

Bullfinch drypoint.jpg

Alison graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Printmaking from Northumbria University in 1990 and now works full time as a professional illustrator and printmaker from her garden studio in Milton.  She designs primarily for the stationery industry but has also developed her own line of products such as her popular range of screen-printed tea towels. 

Besides her illustration work, Alison also makes limited edition hand-pulled prints. Inspiration for her prints comes mainly from observing nature. Walking her dog every day, Alison enjoys being outside in all weathers, observing the changing seasons. She loves the patterns and textures in nature, from seed heads and brambles to silver birch trunks and skeletal winter trees and of course birds flying from one branch to the other. For her prints, Alison mostly employs a drypoint technique, either using perspex or cardboard plates and then adding watercolour.

This free exhibition runs from 24th February – 21st March 2018. We are open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

See here for more images and details of Alison's work.

Claire Kendon's wreaths

Cambridge Contemporary CraftsComment
Claire Kendon.JPG

Clare Kendon has made more of her lovely wreaths again this year!

Her love of using natural materials as decoration began with the miniature gardens and pressed wild flower collections that she made for the Village Flower Show in Somerset where she grew up. At Christmas her family decorated small logs with candles and pine cones to give to relations and drew seasonal pictures to hang with a ribbon and stuck a small calendar at the bottom.

Living now in a village-like suburb of Cambridge, her decorations are made from herbs and shrubs growing in the garden.  They smell so good and are part of a traditional Christmas.

Her Advent Wreath counts down the four Sundays to Christmas as each candle is lit, starting with Advent Sunday, which this year (2017) is December 3rd. Expect a unique mixture in each one to include some of the following: Rosemary, Ivy, Holly, Ceanothus, Pittosporum berries, Larch cones, Conifer, Bay, Christmas box and Rue. This is £44.


This year's Table Decoration is a cracker with candles. Fresh garden materials are clustered low about the candles, creating a centre-piece to set off festive meals and intrigue guests. This is £22.


All of these will benefit from misting and keeping the green florist's foam moist.

Festive Fayre

Cambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

On Wednesday 6 December Cambridge businesses will be open late to celebrate the festive season!

From 5pm - 8pm, join us for a cocktail at cambridge contemporary crafts. We will also gift wrap your presents for free in our wonderful giftwrap designed by UK artists.


This wonderfully atmospheric event is the perfect opportunity to explore the wealth of largely independent stores onTrinity Street, Green Street, Rose Crescent, All Saints Garden, Peas Hill, Bene’t Street, Kings Parade, Bridge Street and St Mary’s Passage … and bag some unique Christmas gifts.

Market Square stalls - many serving hot food - will be participating for the very first time and staying open late together with the All Saints Craft Market on Trinity Street.

To add to the ambience, there will be music and entertainment broadcast from a screen located in Market Square.

Two of Cambridge’s best-loved choirs will additionally be performing on the night. The historic choir of Great St Mary’s will perform outside Great St Mary’s Church, St Mary’s Passage from 18:45 – 19:15.  The St Bene’t’s Singers will also be performing twice during the evening – from 17:15 -17:45 outside St Bene’t’s Church, Bene’t Street, and from 18:00 -18:30 on the corner of Peas Hill and Bene’t Street.

Ian Sandison, Chairman of Cambridge BID, said: “Festive Fayre is the perfect event to really get you in the Christmas mood as you sample the very best that Cambridge retailers have to offer within the picturesque Old Quarter.”

 Anne Bannell, owner of Jacks On Trinity and one of the main organisers behind the event, added: “This year’s Festive Fayre is set to be bigger and better than last year.  It’s great that Market Square will be staying open with us and that there are more shops offering special promotions and refreshments as well as festive fun and entertainment. It’ll be a lovely evening for all, and just what you need to get that Christmas shopping sorted!”

Christmas at cambridge contemporary crafts

Cambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

Photo by Zuza Grubecka

Here at cambridge contemporary crafts we've transformed the gallery ready for Christmas and the annual Independent Christmas window competition.        


This year we've decided to go colourful and get cosy under the Christmas tree for a real festive celebration. Inspired by the amazing crafts surrounding us everyday we've chosen to get crafty ourselves and created some paper decorations to adorn our window. 

We really enjoyed the creative experience of making our window display this year, from planning the idea right through to two of days putting up the display and choosing the perfect crafts from the shop to bring the window to life. 

Photo by Zuza Grubecka

Our mini origami tree's are being joined by Amanda Banham's Raku houses and Kathryn Mitchell's festive themed ceramics to create a wintry village scene. Glass snowflakes by Caroline Raffan's are falling down our window onto the heads of our village occupants, the ever popular Clare Nicholl's snowmen. All accompanied by succulents grown by our very own Gonda Sanders.

Photo by Zuza Grubecka

Peering under the Christmas lights drawn on our windows, you can see what treasures are bursting from the presents under the paper Christmas tree. Glittering bowls from Sophie Smith and Luna Lighting, Cambridge themed ceramics from Daniel Wright and tea towels by Angela Harding

Inside the shop Claire Kendon has created wreaths and candle centers for the shop and our Christmas tree is overflowing with decorations. Each year our artists go all out for Christmas hand making decorations from a wide range of materials including glass, metal, and felt. Its a great way of getting a piece of handmade craft into your home. 


Photos by Zuza Grubecka





Opal Necklace by Ellie Air - raising money for Lullaby Trust

Cambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

At the beginning of the year, Lauren of Ellie Air contacted us to say that she was going to make one special item of jewellery every month with the intention to raise money for charity. She has been collaborating with 12 shops and bloggers during 2017. October is here! It is now our turn and Lauren has made this wonderful Opal Necklace...

It is a one of a kind, doublet necklace set in 9ct yellow gold, to be sold exclusively at cambridge contemporary crafts. Lauren chose to use Opal as it is the birth stone for October, we think that the colours in this stone are stunning. Pop in to cambridge contemporary crafts to see it for yourself!

100% of the profits of this necklace will go to The Lullaby Trust, please read more about the charity on their website:



Autumn Colours Exhibition 23rd September – 11th October 2017

Exhibition, Glass, jewellery, Textile, Enamel, CeramicsCambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

Our upcoming show will be focusing on Autumn Colours, with work by Caroline Parrott, Helen Chatterton, Janine Partington, Freddie Crossley, Eddy Crick and many more.

Janine Partington combines the traditional craft of enamelling with fresh, clean, contemporary design using intricate hand-cut stencils. Janine’s work is heavily inspired by the trees, flowers, seed heads and birds in the natural landscape surrounding her. Janine’s gorgeous rust-coloured pieces are perfect for this season and they shimmer beautifully in the autumn sun.

Caroline Parrott is a Dorset-based artist who works in anodised aluminium. Caroline hand prints the aluminium with her own unique designs. She then dyes and paints it to create a vibrant range of jewellery, home accents and sculpture. We will have a lot of fun arranging her popular animal sculptures into a forest-themed display for our autumn exhibition.


Also on display will be a beautiful collection of silk scarves by textile designer Helen Chatterton. Helen’s silk twill scarves have a lovely fluid feel. Colour is the main inspiration for Helen’s work. Her latest London map scarf features more intense hues, combining a deep-red street pattern with parks in emerald green and a turquoise Thames.

Freddie Crossley is a ceramicist whose work seeks a deep-rooted connection to the past and future of our landscape. Working in the South Downs, his motifs speak of grassy earth and windswept sea and stone, counterbalanced by refined form and sculptural presence.  The pieces on display are individually wheel-thrown, one off pieces which are suitable for domestic use.


Meanwhile, hanging in our window are some beautiful British birds made by stained glass artist Eddy Crick.  He learned his skills at night school after an injury left him unable to pursue his career as a classical guitarist. He finds the most rewarding subjects are inspired by nature and pushes the techniques of his art close to its limits in the endeavour for accuracy. British wild birds are his forte and are all to scale and as accurate as he can achieve.



This free exhibition runs from 23rd September – 11th October 2017. We are open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Layla Amber Exhibition 2nd – 20th September 2017

Exhibition, jewellery, WoodCambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

This September, we are very excited to have Layla Amber as our featured artist. Layla is one of our most popular jewellers whose cute and quirky designs have become long-time favourites at cambridge contemporary crafts. Throughout the year, you can always find some of Layla’s lovely pieces on our jewellery shelves or tables. This month, for the first time ever, we will be creating a window display with her work. Layla is designing some brand new things to go in our front window, including floral wall pieces. We can’t wait to see what she has in store for us!

Layla Amber is a designer/maker based in a beautiful seaside town in Suffolk. She was brought up in a very creative family with her mother and grandfather both being artists.  Layla studied Graphic Design at the Norwich University College of the Arts, graduating in 2010 with a BA honours. It was during her time at art school that Layla discovered her passion for illustration. When she graduated, she set out to turn some of her illustrations into jewellery. Layla started working from a corner of her bedroom and now has her own studio, supplying jewellery to galleries and boutiques all over the world. We’re very proud to be one of them!


Layla's aim is to create fun and wearable pieces of jewellery from her finely detailed illustrations. She started out working mainly in shrink plastic, a material that allowed her illustrations to retain their intricacy and vibrancy in a miniature format. Her design style evolved over the years and she now focuses on more illustrative designs intricately laser cut in sustainable birch wood and then delicately hand painted. She likes to think of them as miniature wearable pieces of art. Layla’s work is greatly inspired by wildlife and the seasonal changes of the countryside that surrounds her.


This free exhibition runs from 2nd – 20th September 2017. We are open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5.30pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Tote Bags for Cambridge Street Aid

Cambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

Last winter as the temperatures dropped and we noticed more and more people sleeping rough on the streets of Cambridge, we started thinking about a way to support Cambridge Street Aid, a local charity which helps homeless or vulnerably housed people in our city to find and sustain accommodation and employment.

We came up with the idea of selling tote bags and donating the profit of every bag to Cambridge Street Aid. Our cotton tote bags are extremely useful, environmentally friendly, very sturdy and on top of that they look great! Cambridge-based illustrator Katie Harnett created 3 beautiful designs for us and we’re happy to see they have been popular.

Our bags cost £3 to produce and retail at £5, which means for every bag that is sold we can give £2 to the charity. We have been selling our tote bags since December 2016 and we’re really pleased to announce that we have recently sold out our first order of 300 bags, so we have donated £600 to Cambridge Street Aid! So here’s a heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s bought one!

Cambridge Street Aid has responded to say they are delighted and touched by your kindness. Your addition to the Street Aid fund means they have raised almost £10,000. The money has been paid out in grants that have helped to change lives, including:

  • For a bicycle to help a formerly homeless man travel to a new job;
  • To pay for a suit and shoes for someone starting a round of job interviews;
  • Towards sports gear for people wishing to put an unhealthy street-based life behind them;
  • To enable someone to obtain a construction certificate so they can work on building sites;
  • For household equipment to give someone a fresh start in a new tenancy;
  • To enable someone to purchase a passport to help them visit their estranged family

Once again a huge thank you for your support! We have started selling from our second order of tote bags now and we hope to be able to make another donation in about six months’ time. We also have Cambridge Street Aid’s poster and flyers on display in the gallery with details on how to donate, so we’re hoping this has inspired some of you to make a contribution directly to this worthwhile cause. Please visit learn more.