A day of shows at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre

I spent this last weekend visiting several fairs at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The events showcased a meeting of creative minds, providing workshops, products, a wealth of information and new skills. It was also great to see so many young people getting involved!

A day of shows at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre

The first shows I visited were the Hobbycrafts, Sewing For Pleasure and Embroidery and Stitch events run by International Craft and Hobby Fair Events. This year they joined forces with Cake International so I was able to expand my range of baking and cake decoration equipment.

As well as being able to shop for supplies (yarn, crochet hooks, material and dress patterns, yes please!) there were also lots of drop in tutorials running throughout the day. I took part in a chocolate making workshop with The Chocolate Tree and learnt how to make truffles which was so much fun. We also got to take them home and package them with beautiful gift wrap. It could be messy though (but there's definitely worst things than being covered in chocolate!)

I also visited the Photography Show on its opening day. Packed with photographers from all over the country, this was an events for trade-members but also just anyone interested in and enthusiastic about photography. I started the day by attending a Beginners Masterclass which lasted for a couple of hours to brush up on my basic skills (I felt I needed a refresher and to head back to basics). It made me realise I need to be more experimental with using flash in photography and branch out of my comfort zone a bit more.

I also listened to an interesting talk about using macro photography within museums and how to capture living insects at the Natural History Museum. After that, the show became overrun with storm troopers and Darth Vader himself entered: comic-con next door had arrived to give us all ample photo opportunities.

The final workshop for the day I attended was to take part in Lomography's introduction to their new instant camera. We were informed how to use the camera by a friendly instructor, before being let loose around the show with 20 instant snapshots. I've used film cameras before but lomography make it much easier to experiment with things like double exposures, coloured filters and extended shutter speed providing instantly exciting results. Ok so I had very little manual control of the settings (its pretty much an embellished point and shoot) but I do really enjoy the Lomography range. The only sticking point is the price of it - I definitely cannot afford the £220 it costs to buy the camera.

The shows also provided lots of information about guilds and societies. The embroidery and stitch featured catwalk exhibits by young art and fashion students and schools. Likewise the photography show had discounts for students and conferences for young people. The cake international show had a young people's category - entering into their competitions from ages 9 and under up until much older producing absolutely phenomenal results. It was also a show for all ages: older adults and younger children alike got stuck into the many workshops and activities on offer. Overall, I had a brilliant weekend, learnt lots of new skills and can't wait to head back there next year!


Image via The Photography Show


Mary Strickson

Mary Strickson Contributor

I love writing, blogging and reviewing on Voice and other online publications, covering a range of topics but I especially love the arts, activism, film and theatre. When I am not writing I work as an events photographer and artist/illustrator, as well as running workshops in schools and the community, mostly with young people. I'm also a huge history nerd, have a History BA, Art History MA and work in heritage. I love comics, superheroes and anything sci-fi.

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