The Decorative Living Fair 2017 – Friday May 12 (09.30-16.00) & Saturday May 13 (10.00-17.00) at Eridge Park, Nr Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 8JT
I always enjoy my visit to the annual Decorative Living Fair, but this year it is even more exciting because we are moving into our new home on the edge of the Ashdown Forest and I can finally enjoy looking for some furniture and decorative pieces. There is always such a good collection of exhibitors at the fair, selling a variety of styles, ranging from perfect antique Swedish furniture, to country pieces with their original paint finish. In between there is the faded glamour of decorative French brocante, chandeliers, slightly bashed gilt and plaster mirrors, armoires and old chairs re-upholstered in natural linens. The fair is all about the way time turns into texture on surfaces, and the exhibitors make such efforts with the presentation of their stands, with huge armfuls of lilac and cow parsley everywhere, echoing the wisteria usually in full bloom on the walls of the main house.
Some of my favourite exhibitors include my local emporium, Nutley Antiques, and Three Angels who are based in Hove and specialise in French 19th century furniture. They always have extremely decorative but useful pieces which you can use architecturally. I always find some tableware for my collection at Goose Home & Garden, but I am really hoping that they might have some beehives for my new garden. SJ Bennett usually has good garden tables and chairs, and many of the stallholders sell antique garden statuary. I was delighted to see that Mary Hossack of Life England is back this year: we bought hundreds of tiny glass bottles from her for our wedding in 2015, and I love the way she gathers things from many periods and styles. Of course, I have to mention my dear sister-in-law, the organiser of the fair, who will have some embroideries and collages made from antique papers – although how she finds the time to make them when she organizes this amazing fair, beats me.