/ The London Traveler
London — By Andrea Kirkby on February 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm
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Hand-crafted souvenirs

You can get lots of souvenirs in London. A model St Paul’s, a guardsman doll in his bearskin, or even one of those T-shirts that says ‘My Dad went to London and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’. But if you’re looking for something more original, something hand-made, Contemporary Applied Arts might be worth a visit.

Should this have been my new year's resolution? You know, I think it already is!

The gallery is quite central, not far from Tottenham Court Road tube – in fact if you’re on a crafty shopping expedition you could fit in Liberty’s and CAA on the same afternoon.

The current exhibition focuses on tableware, but as always, it contains different crafts – some silverware, some ceramics, some glass. There are a couple of marvellous paper-thin porcelain bowls I quite fancy, and a really nice squat, sturdy teapot with a robust and friendly character that I can just see on my teatable. (Unfortunately my regular teapot might disagree; hang on a moment there while I pour myself another cup and soothe its hurt feelings…)

This isn’t the kind of gallery where you look at some museum piece or old master to take only memories away with you. If you haven’t got the idea, one of the previous exhibitions was actually entitled ‘Take me home’. There have been exhibitions of weaving and textile design, Valentine’s Day last year saw the ‘Love handles’ show with jewellery and paper,  and designer bookbinders and willow basketmakers have also shown here.

I just love looking. Sometimes I think ‘Hm, I could do that’, sometimes I’m just amazed by the craftsmanship involved. (I have actually done a bit of training as a silversmith, and believe me, some of the work in CAA is just breathtaking – the more so as I know just how many hours of work goes into it.)

Of course you don’t have to buy anything. But you could – and to me that’s one of the joys of this gallery. You don’t need to be a tycoon to afford some art in your life.

Where: 2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD [map]

When: 10-6, Mon-Sat

How much: free

Photo by Sabrina Eras on flickr

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