By Fiona McGarry
If you’re looking for interesting local arts or crafts for Christmas presents, Hastings and St Leonards
are bursting at the seams with Christmas fairs and bazaars this year. One of the stand-out events is
the Creative Christmas Fair at Hastings Arts Forum running from 1st–23rd December.
Their Facebook page describes the show as a ‘high-end, top-quality, Christmas art show’. As I walked
along Marina on the opening night, eyeing up the scaffolding outside, I was feeling a little cynical
and expecting everything to be out of my price range – except perhaps for a card or two.

In fact, the whole experience was a delight: first of all just finding that the whole of Marina was a
hive of activity; within the exhibition itself there was a real atmosphere of excitement. The artists
have put a lot of effort into displaying their work, and this is the first thing that you notice. And it’s
not just exquisite paintings, jewellery and pottery, there are T-shirts, quirky soft toys, cushions,
beautiful wrought iron coat hooks and pokers, tree decorations and beautifully-wrapped hand-made
soaps. Although not cheap, most items are an affordable price of between £15 and £40 – and the
fishing hut wrapping paper is a real bargain at £1.00 a sheet. Visitor comments reflect a similar first
impression: “The quality and prices are good – really nice stuff.” Or, “really well presented, some
items quite surreal” And a visitor from Spain, “Perfect timing – some wonderful gifts to be had.”
I wasn’t expecting to find anything for children but was seduced by a beautiful ‘owl and pussy cat’
soft toy – among the other interesting items I bought (and didn’t regret later).

Thoughtfully curated by April Yasamee, the fair showcases the work of 28 local artists and designers.
“Everything is specifically created and crafted for the exhibition,” she says. “It was ‘a huge amount
of work to collate everything because they are all so individual.” She explained how every year is
different and the importance of having a mix of established and new designers. This year, a group of
students from Sussex Coast college were invited to produce some work for the show – providing
them with their first business experience.
As someone who has never enjoyed Christmas shopping, I am now discovering that it can be an
enjoyable experience.
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