Entrance to Crafty Fox Oval - East London

The Black Market

After last month’s pattern cutting class, we headed down to Crafty Fox at its new location in East London’s Opal space. On this sunny Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by the sweet conscious sounds of Bob Marley on our entrance. The cute signs on your way up the stairs to trail the route to the craft fair was indeed a nice touch.

Pattern cutting participates take a crafty road trip
Pattern cutting participates take a crafty road trip
Entrance to Crafty Fox Oval - East London
Entrance to Crafty Fox Oval – East London

On a whole, there was a nice vibe to the space. One of my favorite things about the Crafty Fox franchise is the acknowledgment for the need of a DJ to set the mood right. This DJ knew the right tunes to spin to help you move around the fair with a bounce in your step.

Hey Mr DJ
Hey Mr DJ

That all said I couldn’t help feeling a little underwhelmed. There were many of the same things being repeated throughout the fair a few card sellers, a few bags sellers, some ceramic sellers even more jewellery sellers. Even worse than the feeling of being underwhelmed is that this carefully curated craft fair was lacking representation from black makers. There must have been at least 30 traders on this Saturday and I counted all of 2 sellers of black origin. Naturally, these sellers had by far some of the most beautiful and interesting items for sale. One of which I have actually been following since I came across her in the spring this year. I couldn’t help but think, where are all the black sellers at?

Stunning pottery from MBE Ceramics London
Stunning pottery from MBE Ceramics London
Wacky Wacky bespoke jewellery
Wacko Wacko bespoke jewellery

Being a trader myself and taking part in various craft markets which cater more towards customers of black origins such as Afro Punk, Africa Utopia, Africa Market, Africa on the Square to name a few. I know for a fact these makers of black origin exist. The makers are talented and showcasing their African inspired wares, but how is it that these African/Caribbean crafts are not more represented by these makers in the mainstream craft markets and retail spaces. Instead of being culturally appropriated by the western world not of the same origin.

Arts and Crafts have always been a large feature in African and Caribbean history. From brass casting, to pottery, to basket weaving, to beautifully crafted clothes without patterns. Our African ancestors have always used craft in some aspect of their civilization, whether it be carving instuments or designing and making attire fit for battle. Yet rather then give the countries of Africa and their craftman and women the recognition they deserve, it appears instead they largely go unrecognised. A great recent example is designers Valentino, who in his spring 2016 collection titled his collection “wild African themed” with models with cornrowed or faux locs and the only 4 black models to feature with featured an attire “tribal” catwalk featuring cornrow haired models and clothes that resembled various African tribes in Africa.

Valentino spring 2016 show. Photo: Imaxtree
Valentino spring 2016 show. Photo: Imaxtree

I do not deny this collection was incredibly beautiful. I just want to see more people of African origin showcase and have a platform for their interpretation of their African heritage. This will continue to be a issue unless we bring more focus to the craftsman and women inspired by their African heritage. Check out Wacko Wacko for unique bespoke Jewellery and MBE Cermaics London for your one of a kind crockery needs. Look out for next weeks blog for my black owned independent business gift guide.

Crafty fox is a great way for independent African heritage artist to develop a mainstream platform and I hope in the future this is more represented in the indie craft market scene. Crafty Fox Christmas markets continue this week you can get more details on how you can check out your local independent artist here.

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