The actual existence of Arts Funding has become a myth for the modern day. Where is it? What do I have to do to get it? And will it be more than £1 per year?

Lack of government funding means that people have had to get creative in different ways. Ways, for example, of filling out grant applications in exuberant yet paradoxically clinically accurate terms. Or forever explaining to clients why creatives have to charge for their work because we can’t solely survive off the foods of our hyperactive imaginations alone.

In August, our very own Victoria Park greeted a new festival into its leafy grounds. Naming a festival Make More seems fairly self-explanatory. A festival for the makers and doers, collecting together in the canal-side corner of Victoria Park for five days to celebrate human hands and what we can make with them. Its founder James Cartwright explained the need to create such a celebration arose from the realisation that London, and the UK more widely, is second to none at being creative and innovative. It also came from an ambition to get more people involved in these processes and to spread the word. It was, however, regrettably washed away by the rains; unaided by the fact that entrance on the weekend dates neared £40 for an adult entry. It was a wonderful idea, but one that somehow failed to perform. In the end, it would have better suited the title: Sell More. Tickets, namely.  

Nevertheless, we optimistic and undeterred East Londoners remain unfazed! And, in spite of the poor turn-out, the exuberant and effervescent wealth of talent on display was truly something to behold.

England is a nation of hobbyists and tinkers. Even the quietest person in your office will have a side-line habit, potentially making clay figurines (and maybe not even in a creepy way). But, as a peoples generally, there’s an enormously large number of garden sheds in which we make little acorns from bits of scrap wood or spin yarn on rickety old spindles directly inherited from Rumpelstiltskin himself. We’re artistically industrious, and we whole-heartedly agree with Make More that it’s certainly something to celebrate. And so here, we shall now celebrate these artists further.

Throughout the festival there were demonstrations, stalls and workshops: make your own wooden spoon, buy these beautiful handwoven wares, watch me miraculously mix smells and soy into a candle. The varied talents and products of these people were nothing short of astonishing.  

Let’s talk about artists. Namely, Susan and her fellow ink-stained colleagues at the ‘not for profit’ East London Printmakers. They stalled out all weekend in amongst the big tops and food trucks with their wire drying racks and ready enthusiasm. From screen printing to lino prints down to the more expert cyanotype, this excellent East London based collective inform their art with cheer and helpful tutorials. I can’t tell you how happy I am with the lino print I made. It’s framed on my wall, and it’s thanks to these wonderful people that I still have all 10 fingers: ‘Mimi, remember to steer the scalpel away from your hands’. Repeated kindly every time I tried.

In printing, type means ‘one kind’ and it’s nicely definitive of East London Printmakers too; creating things that are both highly skilled and highly unique. They also run Open Access schemes true to their ethos that the arts shouldn’t be for the few. The motive behind Open Access (whereby prices start at as little as £15 per session) demonstrates their dedication to offer professional printmaking facilities to everyone. So, whether it’s etching, fabric, lino or screen printing that takes your fancy, pop along and try one of them out for less than your weekly coffee budget!

For those of us regrettably unacquainted with the artist collective, Urban Makers, they’re holding many a Christmas market over the Festive season- so there’s ample opportunity to go and say hello. Each stall at every market is handpicked by the Urban Makers collective and they teach workshops as well as having the stalls. Most excitingly on their upcoming Christmas Markets is the Festive Origami workshop on November 28th at the Here East Christmas Market. Their focus is always local, designer led markets and, since starting out in our very own Bow in 2015, they’re going from strength to strength. With stall-holders selling everything from hand-sewn leather purses, to pompom necklaces to bold, knitted cushions with various animal faces, you’ll have all bases on your Christmas list covered.

And on the subject of Christmas and supporting local creatives, we here at East LDN have curated our very own little Christmas Market list to spare you that dreaded trip to Oxford Street on Christmas Eve…

Top 5 Handmade Christmas Markets in East London

Renegade Craft Fair

These festive folks are starting Christmas early with craft workshops, stalls and music on Brick Lane. This one is ideal for couples Christmas shopping as you can perfectly unsuspiciously leave your partner at the bar as you set off in search of their present. Truman Brewery, 1-2nd December

Turning Earth Winter Market 

The famous Hoxton ceramicists are setting out their biggest studio sale ever with over 120 artists displaying and selling their wares! It promises to be a great day with demos as well as street food as you browse for that perfect gravy boat for this year’s turkey roast.  Further yet, in full Christmas spirit, they’re donating profits from selected pots to go to Hackney Migrant Centre which helps immigrants and asylum seekers. – 11 Argall Ave, E10, 2-3rd December

Urban Makers East’s Christmas Market

Set in the beautiful Mile End Ecology Park, 50 designers will be festooning the trees with bunting and baubles to offset the array of Christmas stalls, food and drink and festive tunes. – Mile End, 8-9th December

Print your own Christmas 

The Geoffrey Museum is famous London-wide for its period Christmas displays and this year, it’s holding many Winter classes to help you recreate this in your own house. Although not quite a market, you’ll still leave with many beautiful things AND you’ll have made them all yourself! The classes focus on screen printing to create your own festive designs for cards and wrapping paper. All materials provided, classes £35 per person. – Geoffrey Museum, 17th November and 1st December

Christmas at Netil Market  

Running all Saturdays in December, this market suits all of us shoppers- whether last minute or first in line. Boasting many events from demos to late night shopping by candlelight, this curated market of 30 traders promises all joy (read: mulled wine). – Netil Market, all December