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.

Interview with Sarah Myatt

Glass, Interview, ExhibitionCambridge Contemporary CraftsComment

We've had a chat with the lovely Sarah Myatt about her work. Sarah is the featured artist for our current exhibition. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, make sure to come in soon. Sarah's beautiful glass work will be in our window display until 9th August.


How did you get started with your art career?

I always loved Art at school and had a fabulous teacher who just brought out the best in every student, I was completely hooked and I really wasn't interested in any other subjects. I continued my studies doing an art foundation course at a local college, fully intending to go on to do a degree course in Wood, Metals and Plastics (this was a long time ago and I have no idea what they call that type of course now!). On my way to the open day for the course at the University of Wolverhampton I dropped into the glass department. That was that – I was hooked straight away. Something just felt right... I never chose glass – it definitely chose me. I graduated way back in 2000 with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in 3D Glass Design. It feels (and is) a very long time ago. We learned many different glass techniques, from stained glass and glass blowing to kiln forming, which I loved and that’s what I use now in my practice.

What inspires you? 

The countryside that surrounds us inspires me – I live on the edge of the Peak District and it’s simply stunning. A natural theme has ran through my work from the very beginning, but it's been lovely to really push my work further for this new collection at cambrige contemporary crafts.

How do you go about making a new piece?

Sometimes I sketch out ideas, but usually I make a sample piece out of glass straight away, fire it and then make adjustments from there. Because I attend three regular artisan markets every month throughout the year, I need to keep my work fresh so I need to make new pieces quite regularly. That helps to keep it interesting. I’m lucky to have a following of customers who collect my work and look out for new pieces. The new collection has taken a long time to develop, I tend to work quite small, so it's been good for me to work a little larger and create the bigger panels. 

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

I love everything about glass: the huge number of colours and patterns, the feel of glass and the way light can completely change a piece. The possibilities are endless. It can be quite an unpredictable material but it keeps you on your toes! Sometimes the pieces that don’t come out of the kiln exactly as you planned can spark an idea for something else.
Which other artists do you admire? 

There are so many glass artists that I love who work in all aspects of glass making: Amanda SimmonsDavid ReekieBert Frijns to name just a few. But the most inspirational work, which I could look at for hours, is by Czech artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová. Their work is simply beautiful –mostly large scale pieces that are created from the most sublime colours that change in hue as the light passes through them. My favourite piece is Arcus 1 which is in the V&A glass collection – I get goosebumps every time I see it. I was lucky enough to visit their studio on a group trip with university. It was very special and something I’ll never forget.

Can you describe a typical working day? 

Usually checking emails and doing a bit of admin first thing in the morning with lots of cups of tea to get the brain going! Then off to my studio which is based in my garden at home. It's a brick out-building which was refurbished last year with new windows and work surfaces, it's become a lovely light space to work in. 

I always have many to-do lists on the go for the week ahead but most days I am cutting out glass, cleaning and assembling the pieces in the kiln. I try to fire my kiln three times a week if possible, but sometimes it can be up to five times once I start making for Christmas. I load up my kiln and fire towards late afternoon, at this point I will finish work in the studio as the fumes from the kiln are not pleasant to breathe in. Then, it's back to the house for more admin, checking orders and packing parcels...oh and more tea of course!

How do you see your work evolving in the future? 

I have lots of ideas, but I am really pleased with the new collection for this exhibition. I can see this side of my work evolving more and it's very exciting!