Good Seasons Start with Good Beginnings…

As the days draw in and our thoughts turn to Christmas, we talk to a few gallery owners about why they do what they do and what has inspired and motivated them.

Artichoke Gallery Ticehurst


On the eastern edge of Sussex, surrounded by beautiful countryside, Artichoke Gallery is in the heart of Ticehurst, a Wealden village with an eclectic selection of small creative businesses. In addition to featuring the work of artist/owners Vicki Atkinson, Liz Moys and Louisa Crispin, there are quarterly exhibitions of painting, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery from some of the leading artists and makers in the country.

Opening just over 2 years ago in October 2014, Artichoke drew on the experience of Sculptor Vicki Atkinson who ran a Gallery from her home for several years. “It was important to be able to continue to develop my own artist practice so when the old post office premises became available in Ticehurst I looked for a partnership to help in the day to day activities and we haven’t looked back. There is an enormous amount of work involved in selecting new artists every three months to provide an exciting and cohesive exhibition, but what I hadn’t expected was the benefits this would bring to my own work.”

Whilst the Gallery is keen to support local artists, they like to bring new ideas to the area and considerable time is spent sourcing from across the country by visiting Art Fairs and Craft Shows, talking to artists and makers, developing an understanding of their dreams and more particularly their humour. Artists and makers are very generous with their knowledge and these connections have developed into firm friendships. The ladies are continually amazed at how far their reputation has spread already with visitors making special trips from London and throughout the South East. “We are on a tourist route, which brings visitors from all over the world but we especially value the locals, who pop their heads around the door on a quiet rainy day just to make us smile. Our busy opening parties are a thank you for their continued support.”

The Gallery has a spacious, relaxed atmosphere to show off the contemporary delights on offer, ideal for sourcing that extra special present or simply a chance to share in the ladies’ rather quirky sense of humour. Check out the website for a taster but better still, pop in for a sensory treat.

The current exhibition “In The Landscape”, featuring work by over 60 artists and makers, continues until Christmas, with some fabulous gift ideas and plenty to make you smile.

Artichoke Gallery, Church Street, Ticehurst TN5 7AE

Tel: 01580 200905


Wing Gallery Wadhurst


WING Gallery located in the Wealden village of Wadhurst is a real hidden gem. Owned by well-known sculptor Gavin Roweth, the gallery took its maiden flight in November 2012. The first exhibition displayed a diverse range of paintings, sculpture and ceramics, created by talented local artists. Since then the gallery has gone from strength to strength, exhibiting many themed, solo and group shows, featuring national and international artists alongside the wealth of fine artists who live in the Weald. ‘I quickly discovered that it was important to provide a diverse range of art that regularly changed to encourage more customers. Busy times at the gallery can be quite a buzz, selling artists work and discussing possibilities with clients is always rewarding’. Quieter times provide Gavin with the opportunity to catch up on his own design work and plan for future shows. This year for example Gavin has added sectional dividing doors to the gallery to enable him to use some of its space as a separate studio and exhibition space.



Over the past four years WING has become part of the very fabric of the village, with the ever-changing feature window displays eagerly anticipated. Many of the gallery’s visitors comment that a few minutes inside can provide a brief pause in their chaotic lives. ‘This is an unforeseen result of opening a gallery, but hugely rewarding one.

I have found that being approachable is very important; a gallery should not be an awkward or unapproachable place for anyone to walk into. I think it is a great help that WING is an artist run business. Whether I’m working on a design drawing or a sculpture the process of what I’m doing seems to break down any awkwardness and very soon you are discussing the age of stone or the type of chisels I might use to create a piece. The gallery is also a great place for meeting existing clients; we can discuss a commission, have a coffee and at the same time I can introduce them to artists they may not have come across before’.

The current exhibition running 1st – 13th November is a solo show of artwork by ‘Emily Pennock’. This will be followed by the Christmas exhibition running 18th November – 24th December and featuring 25 local artists.

High Street, Wadhurst TN5 6AA.

Tel: 01892 783665


West End House Gallery Smarden



West End House is a contemporary gallery showing a wide range of original artworks, including paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery, glass and textiles by regional and national artists. Open Thursday to Monday, 10am to 5pm, their aim is to make the gallery space a friendly and stimulating environment with inspiring work, at all prices.

When you first enter the gallery you will see among the many exhibits a dog biscuit bowl. No, it’s not a piece of modern art, but an indication that the gallery, nestling alongside a beautiful church and a pub, is very much a part of the village community.

If you spend a bit of time in the gallery you will see a flow of visitors (some with dogs.) One of them summed it up perfectly saying “the gallery makes all the difference to the village. It’s friendly, lively and very much part of our community.”

The two ladies who run West End House, Patricia Hawkins and Karen Papworth, make an effort to ensure that no-one feels intimidated about entering the gallery and when it comes to selling artworks their policy is never to give anyone the hard sell. They make sure the work they show is varied, with prices ranging from £5 up to several thousand.

Their venture came about when Patricia, who exhibited her glassworks in the gallery was told by the women running it that they intended giving it up and did she know anyone who might like to take it on. She mentioned this to fellow artist Karen, who had already started looking into running a gallery. They talked it over and decided to take the risk together and raided their savings accounts in order to take the business over from the founder of the gallery, Joel Arnstein.

They took over in February 2011 and say they have never regretted the decision. After a good first year the business has continued to flourish, although they admit you will never make a fortune running a gallery. They say it’s not about the money, it’s about the inspiration they get from the work, the excitement of selling work for so many artists and the pleasure they get when someone finds the perfect piece for their home. “We believe we’ve found and created something quite special and it’s a lot of fun to do. There has never been a day when we didn’t want to come to work.”

One look at the visitors book sums up their philosophy with comments such as “very pleasant ambience, great artwork, cheerful folk”, “we have just completed a gallery trail and we can highly recommend this fantastic gallery”, “excellent, inspiring, I could go broke”; and one visitor from Shropshire wrote “an excellent break in our journey. We only came in for a look around and found it too tempting.”

West End House Gallery, Water Lane, Smarden, Kent, TN27 8QB

Tel : 01233 770261

Email :

Published in Aspect County Magazine – November 2016/Articulate

When in Doubt, Skate it out…



Ice skating is one of London’s favourite winter pastimes, especially in the run-up to Christmas. There are several permanent indoor ice skating rinks in London, but in winter you’ll find many more indoor and outdoor ice rinks popping up across the capital. You can get your ice skates on this winter at iconic London locations, such as the historic Hampton Court Palace, the beautiful Somerset House and the majestic Natural History Museum. Shopping destinations such WestField London and Canary Wharf also feature seasonal indoor and outdoor rinks, often accompanied by Christmas Markets and seasonal pop up eateries. Outside of London the rink in front of the iconic Brighton Pavilion is definitely worth a look, together with the rink in Calverley Grounds Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Hampton Court Palace

Until 8 January 2017


This 1,040-square-metre (11,194-square-feet) outdoor ice rink offers spectacular views of the magnificent Tudor palace where Henry VIII once lived.

Somerset House

Until 15 January 2017


Set against a stunning neoclassical façade, Skate at Somerset House in partnership with Fortnum & Mason is open all day and well into the evening, when you can skate to live DJs. You can learn to skate or perfect your skills at the weekend skate school and little ones get to enjoy their very own section of the ice where they can practise with specially-designed bear skating aids. After your session, drop by Fortnum & Mason’s pop-up shop brimming with gifts and festive goodies in Somerset House’s West Wing and warm up with wintry food and drinks in Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge. Ice skating sessions generally run between 10am and 10.15pm daily, with shorter opening times on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, as well as extended opening hours on selected dates. The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

National History Museum

Until 8 January 2017


This spectacular 950-square-metre (10,225-square-feet) rink is nestled in front of the iconic South Kensington museum and surrounded by 76,000 glittering fairy lights. Visit the museum’s Café Bar for winter warmers and watch the skaters glide on the ice from the cafe’s balcony. Opening times vary, but most ice skating sessions run between 10am and 10pm, with extended opening hours on weekends and in the days leading up to Christmas, as well as on New Year’s Eve when the rink opens until 12.30am (late-night New Year’s Eve tickets go on sale in November). The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

Tower of London

Until 3 January 2017


The Tower of London ice rink returns this winter, offering day and evening ice skating sessions in the setting of the historic London landmark. Catch up with friends and family on the ice or enjoy a romantic skate under the starry sky, as hundreds of snowflakes light up the wall of the fortress after dark. Cool down after your session with a visit to the Eis Haus. Wrapped up in one of the insulated coats provided, step inside the pop-up bar and lounge, made entirely of ice and enjoy a drink in a chilled ice glass surrounded by crystal-clear ice sculptures. For something cosier, the Dip-Dunk Lodge serves up delicious winter food including fondue, baked goods and warming drinks with a view over the ice rink. Ice skating sessions run between 11am and 10pm daily, except Christmas Day.

LUMINOCITY Canary Wharf Canada Square

Until 25 February 2017


Located in the centre of Canary Wharf, LUMINOCITY @ Ice Rink Canary Wharf will brighten up Canada Square Park this winter with more than 8km of LED lights laid beneath the ice. LUMINOCITY will showcase more than 16 million different colours every session and swathe skaters in an abundance of magical light to create a truly immersive skating experience. The ice rink is also fully covered by a clear roof to guarantee skating sessions whatever the weather. Canary Wharf also offers an abundance of shopping and eating experiences. A beautiful and modern part of London, Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline is an integral part of the landscape and, with the recent addition of Crossrail Place, has become a premier shopping and leisure destination offering new restaurants, a cinema, plus one of London’s biggest roof gardens. From small boutiques to designer labels, spanning beauty, fashion, fitness and homeware, more than 120 stores span five malls together with eateries to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.

Brighton Pavilion

Until 15 January 2017

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion rink, with the ornate Regency pleasure palace as its backdrop, is open every day, and is a great way to round off a day of Christmas shopping in the famous surrounding lanes. This year, the rink side Bar & Kitchen is serving up warming soups, mulled wine and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate.

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Until 2 January 2017


Set in the beautiful splendour of Calverley Grounds’ amphitheatre and bathed in twinkling festive lights, the Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink is back, bigger and better than ever this year! Father Christmas will also be visiting the rink on certain days and meeting children in his cosy, warm log cabin set amongst the trees. Check the website for full details.

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December Edition


Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat…

Traditionally men are renowned for leaving their gift buying until Christmas Eve. This habit can however prove very costly, often resulting in very expensive desperation purchases, unhappy recipients or possibly both!

In an effort to support these late to market gift buyers, the following is a selection of exquisite London Emporia worth visiting, either in the real or virtual world during November, for some advanced gift selection kinder to your wallet and ongoing relationship status.



Harriet Hastings and her husband Stevie Congdon, who are also co-directors of leading London catering company Lettice, launched Biscuiteers in 2007.

‘We came up with the idea for Biscuiteers on a weekend in New York. We were sure that there were lots of people who are as passionate about biscuits as we are and that there was a real opportunity to set up a biscuits gift business online that was completely different from anything else in the market – biscuits that would look as beautiful as they tasted. In fact, biscuits that people would want to talk about’.

In October 2012 they opened the doors to their very first Biscuit Boutique & Icing Cafe in Notting Hill, followed by the Northcote Road, boutique in December 2014.  Showcasing the much-loved Biscuiteers biscuit, chocolate and cake collections, the Boutiques are also drop-in icing cafes, hosting themed icing lessons, children’s icing parties and the Biscuiteers School of Icing, where you can be taught to ice like a Biscuiteer.

In addition to the cafes and online shop, Biscuiteers can now be purchased from a wide range of top end London stores such as Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and The Conran Shop and Colette and le Grand Epicerie in Paris.

Biscuiteers HQ (for online order queries):

18 Stannary Street, London, SE11 4AA

Telephone: +44 (0) 8704 588 358

For corporate and bespoke enquiries:


Biscuiteers Boutique and Icing Café:

Notting Hill

194 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2ES

Northcote Road

13 Northcote Road, London, SW11 1NG

 Benjamin Pollocks Toy Shop


Benjamin Pollocks history began in the 1800’s in Hoxton. At this time the toy theatre trade was flourishing in Covent Garden’s Theatreland, centred around the Drury Lane Theatre.

Pollocks was one of the original shops to open in the newly renovated Covent Garden Piazza building in 1980. Originally opened by Marguerite Fawdry, she sold the business on to toy theatre collector and well-known Coronation Street actor Peter Baldwin, who ran the business until his death in 2015. Today Benjamin Pollocks Toyshop is one of the few toy shops in the West End of London and, staying true to the original aesthetic of their namesake, produce a range of theatres and paper models designed by contemporary artists, which have in recent years been on display at Liberty, Fortnum and Mason and the Royal Opera House.

They also sell reproduction and original toy theatres from around the world, together with a large range of books, puppets, music boxes, pocket money novelties and traditional toys, which they have hand pick from small individual artists and international toymakers.

44 The Market, Covent Garden London WC2E 8RF


Tel: +44 (0)207 379 7866


Pentreath & Hall


Owned by renowned architect and designer Ben Pentreath and Bridie Hall, Pentreath & Hall is one of London’s most distinctive interiors and decoration shops, selling the very best china, glass, linens, furniture, pictures, candles, vases, lights, antiques, books and other delights. Sourced from England, France, Belgium, Germany, Turkey and India, it sells pieces that are not easily found elsewhere. New additions to look out for are their own label designed furniture, lighting, textiles and wallpaper ranges.

A visit to the Rugby Street store is a joy to the senses but for those under extreme time pressure there is an online shop.

17 Rugby Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3QT


+44 (0)20 7430 2526

London Taxidermy

london-taxidermy taxidermy

If you’re looking for a unique and unusual gift for the person who literally has everything look no further, London Taxidermy is the place for you! Owned and operated by ex DJ and designer Alexis Turner, who has been buying, selling and hiring Natural History for over twenty years, Alex has also recently authored the book ‘Taxidermy’, published in May 2013 by Thames & Hudson.

All specimens hired and sold at London Taxidermy are both ethically and legally purchased. No animals are killed for the specific purpose.


+ 44 (0) 208 9474873 (office/showroom)

07770 880960 (mobile)

Showroom Address:

Unit 38, Wimbledon Stadium Business Centre, Riverside Rd,

London SW17 0BA

Open by appointment only



Based in Covent Garden, SugarSin is a modern day Willy Wonka Factory filled with the world’s most fabulous sweets. Their mission has been to travel the globe tasting countless sweets, with a mission to produce the most unique and delicious gourmet sweets that are just as beautiful to look at, as they are to taste. Especially look out for Cocktail gummies!

Step into the colourful world of SugarSin and immerse yourself in fabulous sweetness or shop online for jellies, jars, lollies or hampers…

1 Russell Street London WC2B 5JD


Tel: +44 (0) 20 8616 5959 

W Martyn

135 Muswell Hill Broadway, Muswell Hill, Borough of Haringey, London N10, 2016 • Est 1897, known as the Fortnum & Mason of Muswell Hill, and still in the Martyn family. In 2009, they fought against an English Heritage listing but failed Fine foods & freshly roast coffee - hence roaster in window. Shop history rave reviews Has in fact had many changes, eg in 2009 with red logo but their photo page shows Edwardian frontage, this looks 1930s.

Affectionately referred to as the “Fortnum & Mason of Muswell Hill”, W Martyn is a traditional, old-fashioned family business, established in 1897 and still going strong. The stunning Art Deco facade and interior have changed little over the years – an old coffee roaster rests proudly in the window underneath the iconic red lettering introducing the shop, while inside brass scales, solid oak shelving and row upon row of simply designed, quality goods hark back to 1930s London. It may well be off the beaten track but it really is worth making a trip to this part of north London just to breath in the scent of freshly roasted coffee and the warm, family atmosphere that pervades throughout. As specialists in tea and coffee and retailers of fine foods, Martyn’s now also ship across the UK through their online tea and coffee shop.

With over 100 years of retail experience, they pride themselves on the highest quality of service and products. From your morning cup of tea or coffee to that special gift for family or friends, they have something for everyone.


 +44 (0) 2088835642

Halcyon days


Halcyon Days was founded in 1950 as an emporium of antique gifts in Mayfair, London. Today the company has evolved into a lifestyle brand and although they continue to create their signature enamelware, are best known as the destination for luxury gifts, English fine bone china and fashion accessories.

The craft of enameling on copper has been carried out in England since the 1740s and Halcyon Days has become its guardian. Consequently today, in edition to their signature hand-painted enamel boxes, they also create wearable fashion accessories such as their hand decorated hinged bangles.

Halcyon Days is a one of only fourteen companies to hold all three Royal Warrants and is the only supplier of Objets d’Art:

1972 Granted first Royal Warrant by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

1978 Granted the Royal Warrant of Her Majesty The Queen.

1987 Granted the Royal Warrants of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales.

City Store: 27 Royal Exchange, London EC3V 3LP


 UK: 0844 880 8210

International calls: +44 (0) 121 522 0820

Published in Aspect County Magazine – November Edition