Colourful jumble or simple salvage? It’s here waiting for you

Rusthall Arts Festival

It’s the fair that people talk about all year round, and the buzz about this event is one of the most satisfying rewards for organisers Caroline Zoob and Hetty Purbrick.

“People telephone us to ask for the date months in advance so they don’t book holidays at the same time,” says Caroline. So what makes this fair so special?

“The venue is spectacular,” says Hetty. “It’s such a lovely place to linger and spend the day. I think that because the exhibitors enjoy being there, they make a huge effort with their stands and the result is a very beautiful and inspiring fair.”

The clue is in the name: the show is about making your home and garden beautiful, whether your idea of beautiful is pared back simplicity with one or two key salvaged pieces, or the colourful jumble of spongeware on a painted dresser. Anyone who enjoys browsing antique and vintage treasure for their home and garden will feel as though they have fallen into paradise.

There really is something for everyone, with prices ranging from pence to thousands. While most of the stallholders are dealers in antiques and vintage, there is some fashion and jewellery, as well as a couple of exhibitors who sell contemporary homewares.

“We are very keen on finding designer-makers whose work incorporates vintage or recycled materials, and we love to support brand new businesses such as Nancy Meiland Parfums and Bodie and the Nomad, both of which have launched at the fair,” says Hetty.

How Green Nursery, suppliers of plants to many a Chelsea gold medallist, create a fabulous display of plants on the terrace – and many exhibitors sell garden pots and statues, as well as pretty French garden furniture.

The Blackbird Café is renowned for delicious cakes and lunches, and if the weather is nice tables and chairs are set up on the lawns to enjoy the far reaching views.

“People tend to stay for most of the day, alternating between shopping and browsing and exploring the gardens,” says Caroline. “It is great fun laying out the fair and creating a journey through the different stalls.

“It’s hard work, but a couple of years ago I heard someone saying, ‘It’s the fair I look forward to all year’ and it gave me such a thrill!”

The Decorative Living Fair comes to Eridge Park on May 13 and 14.

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