Liberty open call



Yesterday I got up at 4 am for a 5.30 train to London. My first thought was how wonderful it was to walk through London, Oxford St & Regent St at 7am, wide empty streets and a clear sunny sky, I grabbed a coffee and turned down the side street behind Liberty’s where the que was already well established. I sipped my latte and tried to shake the sleepiness from my head, I had been unable to sleep on the train as I went over my prices, cost & retail and other relevant information.

Two and a half hours of queuing and chatting to the lovely women behind me and the doors were opened. I was expecting further waiting on the staircase but we were in and sitting down quite quickly. Within 10 minutes my name was called and a young man ushered me to a table, this is where it becomes a bit of a blur, as I got my dolls out and started talking to the two women the young man returned to say my three minutes were up, at this point I was completely thrown, panicking slightly I listened to the voices admiring the quality of my work, how beautifully made everything was but too niche for liberty,the young man was hovering and i had to grab my things and go, three minutes means three minutes!

I struggled back down the stairs listening to all the oohs and aahs and lovely comments about my work from the people still queuing, that was nice but I was feeling a little bewildered at the speed of everything. So there is no doubt I felt deflated as I wandered down Carnaby St. Time for another coffee, faced with a day in London and a trolley full of dolls I decided to visit the Tate Modern, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. So a sunny stroll along Embankment and a boat trip later I was looking at great art and less concerned about my mornings disappointment. I returned to Bristol exhausted and still uncertain about how I felt, should I make a greater effort to move my work in a more commercial direction?



The images are of some of the dolls who came with me. And looking at them now I’m pleased I didn’t compromise on my work, I think they are stronger works because they are an honest expression of my creativity. This probably sounds like a crazy statement from a single parent struggling with poverty but you have to use every experience to your advantage, assess what it means for you and your work, now  I could take the Liberty experience as a big fat negative, if Liberty’s aren’t interested its unlikely any other mainstream store will be interested so therefore I should change what I do? tone down my work? become less ‘niche’?, or I say that’s fine, at this moment Liberty’s is not for me but I still need to concentrate on what I’m good at my strengths may never lend themselves to commercial ideas, so I must work harder, push my work further make it even better but not I think compromise it’s integrity.

I have the renegade craft fair to work towards and an exhibition in the Us in the new year, I will research magazines and art galleries. And maybe I’ll give Liberty’s another shot at another time!

This morning I’m feeling the effects of all the standing and walking yesterday but fired by my experience I started work straight away on painting some of my clay figures. There was one other disaster, when packing my dolls yesterday I discovered moth had got into the bodies of my knitted clay headed figures!! I had seen a few flying around when we moved into this house but had hoped they would not be a problem. So again I must simply use this to my advantage and re-make them even better than before, it is actually a good thing as I would rather have discovered this now before selling this design . I think the problem was compounded by their bodies being weighted with rice, so no more organic substances! I’ll experiment with beads or something similar,


Below is one of the last Victorian children to be painted, I hope to have them all listed in my shop next week. So look out for these, I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out.

So despite my less than glorious outcome, the experience was definitely worth it, over the following weeks I will think about it more and keep re-evaluating my creative directions, I feel some painting is next, I loved my visit to the Tate Modern, very inspiring. Anyone thinking of  going to future Liberty open calls I would say without hesitation, do it! but maybe have your items unwrapped and ready before you are ushered to a table and be very prepared with prices, how you see your work displayed etc. Good Luck.


9 thoughts on “Liberty open call

  1. Don’t be disheartened. Rather than thinking you are not right for Libertys, I’d take the view that Libertys isn’t right for you at the moment. Your work is vibrant, strong and unique. I think you’d do well in a gallery setting. Knock ’em dead at the Renegade Fair!

    1. Thank you, an exhausting weekend and you always have a little wobble with rejection but overall a strengthening experience and I’m already thinking of new ideas and ways to sell, it’s all good.

  2. No conozco los lugares que nombran ni sus lineamientos, por lo que quedo sin opinión… sin embargo veo que cada día tu trabajo es más grandioso, propio, único y atractivo. También pienso que idear la manera de encajar no tiene necesariamente que traicionar la esencia de tu creación. ¡Como quisiera poder hablar tu idioma para expresar mis ideas al respecto de buena manera!… En todo caso… como dice una amiga: “todo artista tiene su público”… un abrazo grande! y sigue adelante!!!!

  3. I have always believed in you Jess and I think Murgatroyd is right, Liberty’s isn’t ready for you just yet. Why don’t you try the Yorkshire Sculpture park? I have been a couple of times and they have a beautiful shop where they showcase up and coming artists. I think they organise a craft fair near xmas too. Worth trying I think.
    A good experience though…

  4. Thank you all for the lovely comments, I’m exhausted but not disheartened, it was worth it for the experience and I’m glad I went. I haven’t heard of the Yorkshire sculpture park Deb, I’ll look it up, and the crafts council Penny, and thank you Murgatroyd, I have an exhibition in February and yes lots of work to get on with for the Renegade, Alice don’t worry about the different languages, I always understand your comments beautifully with the help of google translate!
    Best Wishes to you all
    Jess x

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