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A crafter’s call to action, part three – Debbie Bryan

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In the third installment of our exploration of the world of museum gift shops, local designer maker Debbie Bryan writes for us about working with museums.

Back in October 2010 I was thinking about how we could create additional opportunities to promote our Lace Market shop and had the idea to establish a Heritage Pop Up Shop selling our lace inspired collections that have been inspired by our archive of lace industry drawings at the old lace shop near the Nottingham Castle.

I contacted Nottingham City Council a couple of times then I got a phone call from the Commercial Manager to say the unfortunately the idea wasn’t possible at that location.

Fortunately for us we were speaking to someone who understood our shop and what a good offer we had for visitors to the City and we just starting talking about how it could work …starting with Nottingham Castle.

The Castle retail team visited the shop and thankfully they were very impressed with the quality and innovation of the products we sold and that everything was made in the UK. Next the designers were selected and approached about making special limited edition pieces just for the Castle. Debbie Bryan Heritage was launched at the Castle in April 2011, with Debbie Bryan Heritage cabinets being introduced at Wollaton Hall and Newstead Abbey this year.

We have also been heavily involved in Lace:Here:Now season that was lead by exhibitions team at the Castle and the academics that look after and research the Lace Archive at Nottingham Trent University.

We knew this was a fantastic opportunity to really stretched our ambitions for the Debbie Bryan Heritage. Our involvement included a month long exhibition at the Yard Gallery at Wollaton Hall, Heritage Talks and special Lace Collections at the Castle. The season has made us really think about our Cultural offer and created a brilliant platform to show off what we do, this was in addition to a full programme of events at the shop.

The benefits have been great, beyond our expectations in addition to the sales and developing new ideas with designers we work with at the shop we have we are part of the fantastic cultural offer the city has. We are proud to be working with Nottingham City Museums & Galleries.

I have found the Framework Knitters Museum at Ruddington to be equally supportive of myself and other creative practitioners. Manager Paul and I have now confirmed I will be using the knit machinery to develop new ideas as well as selling my work via the shop. I have always loved what they do at Ruddington; it’s amazing to be developing ideas in a working museum, it’s a unique opportunity. I actually did my very first talk about my knit research during my Masters 2004 alongside a showcase of my knitted scarves at the ‘Past, Present, Future Exhibition at the Museum.

If you feel as passionately as Debbie Bryan about the great heritage of Nottingham, tweet us @DebbieBryanUK with #HeartOfHeritage and VOTE for our Christmas Heart of Heritage window located in Flying Horse Walk, Nottingham at info@nottinghambid.com

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Thank you to Debbie Bryan, Paul Baker at the Framework Knitters’ Museum and everyone who has commented on this impromptu series of blogs. Keep your comments coming via the Creative Nottingham twitter feed!


Sue is one of our team of bloggers. She can be reached on she AT creativenottingham.com and followed on Twitter @basfordian