Harrogate: Designers gets crafty with 'haven' gallery

Fledgling artists and designers have found a champion in a newly-opened craft gallery.

Accessories designer Natasha Harris runs a not-for-profit operation at her craft shop and gallery, The Stalls on Bower Street in Harrogate.

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The shop opened last year and already boasts more than 45 designer labels, including accessories, jewellery, ceramics, art, photography, textiles, homewares, lighting and vintage fashion - a veritable treasure trove in a small space.

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Her not-for-profit organisation, called OOBBAA, aims to promote budding "designer-makers" - and has become a popular feature of Harrogate's art and crafts scene.

Natasha said: "It is a haven where they can incubate their talents and take that important first step to becoming an established name.

"I support new and established artists and designers and give them the

chance to showcase and sell their wares affordable prices. It is rewarding to help them grow."

Natasha's criteria for inclusion in her store are quirkiness and individuality.

Popular ranges include cufflinks by Zincc White, made from recycled typewriter keys; Leigh Shepherd's brooches fashioned from old draughts and domino pieces; and George and Lily's handmade felt gifts.

Natasha added: "I want to shake off the twee image of the craft scene and make it appeal to a different audience.

"From the reaction we have had to The Stalls in the past year and, more recently, to our workshops, it's obvious that Harrogate has been crying out for something like this."

Natasha organised workshops on felting and rag-rug making last year and

now has a list of 50 people waiting to join her 2011 programme.

She has recently re-designed the shop's lay-out to provide dedicated workshop space and plans to run bijoux art and craft stalls outside the shop on significant dates - such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day - and hopes this street-vending style will appeal.

Natasha, who organised her first craft fair in 2009, added: "I want to reinvent the art and craft fair and I've been researching how to make them different and more interesting. I would also like to open a second shop - in Leeds - and make it a massive northern hub for all designers and makers."

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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