On a summer's evening at Caversham Mill in 1985, four potters, a weaver and a couple of artists got together to discuss how to work together. They decided to invite the public to visit and meet the artists in their countryside studios. The concept of a Rolling Exhibition, held a couple of times a year, was born. While visitors were welcome to visit studios at other times, they would often find that the artist had gone fishing or was out collecting clay.
In 1990 the brown paper map, which so many of us recall with nostalgia, was produced. Featured on this map was potter Ian Glenny, who you will still find amongst the terracotta pots at his quirky gallery under the trees at Dargle Valley Pottery.
Rob, the son of original members, Helen and Andy Shuttleworth, still lives on top of the hill with his wife Julia. They have taken over the family business of spinning, dying and weaving mohair into a glorious range of throws, carpets and scarves. They have opted for an authentic life rather than heading for the bright lights. You'll still find Lindsay Scott of Hillfold tucked away at the end of the lane in Lidgetton. His unique, award winning oil-fired stoneware and porcelain form part of many international collections.
David Walters was the driving force of the fledgling organisation and now lives in Franschoek where he still creates collectable ceramics. He recalls his Midlands days with nostalgia: “I can take no credit for the incredible way in which the original concept has been expanded, but I note with pleasure that the rather idealistic and sweet motives have been adhered to on the whole and that the spirit of co-operation lives on.”
While many of the original members are still part of the Midlands Meander family, it has grown over the years into a thriving route of more than 150 members, which now offer more than exceptional art and craft. Visitors are drawn by some of the country’s finest accommodation in stunning landscapes - and some of the top wedding and conferencing venues. We are famous for our warm and welcoming Midlands hospitality.
Nowadays visitors get busy! They are invited to ride a horse, fish, fly, hike, bike, watch a cow being milked and wine being made – simple country activities which illustrate the farming foundation of the region.
Nearly three decades in the making, the Midlands Meander keeps pace with the latest technological advances while keeping its original vision of being a collective of creative and hospitable people, making a living at a gentler pace.