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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The ACOFI Book Tour visits Soma Gallery in Bristol

Fiona Hamilton is the brains behind Soma Gallery, a wonderful shop with whom Amelia's Magazine has had a long relationship. I visited as part of my ACOFI Book Tour on Thursday 26th May 2011.

Written by Amelia Gregory

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011

Soma Gallery has been a faithful stockist of Amelia’s Magazine since the early days of its print version, generic so I’ve had a long and lovely relationship with gallery owner Fiona Hamilton:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton

Fiona started up Soma Gallery in 2005 as a place to show up and coming artists, and thanks to her good eye she picked up on the likes of Rob Ryan, Anthony Burrill and Gemma Correll early on in their careers.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011

Soma Gallery used to be housed in a tiny space inside the Clifton Arcade but last year Fiona moved into a bigger shop across the road and it was in the upstairs gallery that we held the ACOFI Book Tour gathering just over a week ago.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 LahlooACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lahloo Tea

When I arrived (last minute, slightly flustered, again. must learn to manage time better) Kate Gover from Lahloo Tea already had the kettle on. She was joined by Vicky and Stu, who were both excellent people to have helping out. Kate came to the tea trade via restaurant retail, but it was a slightly strange career path to choose because she hates normal builders’ tea.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Kate and Fiona
Kate Gover shows Fiona some of the tea.

Due to her inquisitive nature she decided to find a tea that she did enjoy drinking and spent many years developing her palette by training with some of the best tea masters – through them she met with the small scale producers who now supply her with the very best quality teas from their estates. Lahloo Teas can be bought in Chandos Deli and Arch House Deli in Bristol, as well as in fine food stores across the UK. I particularly love Kate’s dedication to the way her teas are presented – she has developed some lovely flyers to promote the tea, her logo features a great fat red heart, and larger quantities come presented in a wooden box. Each tin is decorated with an old shipping map that was inspired by the travels of a famous clipper that her great grandfather sailed on, after which the tea brand is named. Clearly she is a lady for whom attention to detail is important and it certainly pays off with her fragrant teas. Choose from such delights as Amber Oolong Tea, grown on a misty mountain in Taiwan or Guricha Green Loose Tea from China.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's BakeryACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's Bakery iced ginger heartsACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's Bakery iced bicycle biscuits

Lahloo Tea is the perfect accompaniment to a very good hand made biscuit… and on the table were three expertly packed boxes of the most stupendously gorgeous biscuits from Hart’s Bakery: as promised Laura had hand made heart shaped custard creams, iced gingerbread hearts and the cutest hand iced shortbread bicycles. Honestly, I am flabbergasted at pâtissière Laura’s skills – she’s trained with the best of them and it shows. Good folks of Bristol, if you want to try something really special then you should visit her in her shop in Hampton Lane for some artisan delights, where you can also try rhubarb and almond danish, eccles cakes alongside savoury delicacies such as olive and rosemary bread and filled croissants. It really doesn’t get better than this. I am jealous of you Bristol folks.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Juiceology
ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Juiceology
Of course we once more had a little help from Juiceology drinks and Dr.Hauschka goodies, much appreciated by everyone who attended, thankyou!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover
At my Bristol leg of the tour I was lucky enough to be joined by two of the illustrators who are featured in ACOFI – Bex Glover of Severn Studios, whose work just keeps getting better and better. She’s just done a mural for a cafe in Harrods and she is currently featured in several other magazines including The Mighty Pencil – combining two of her favourite things: fashion illustration and animals.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex GloverACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex GloverACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover
She has also been doing tutorials for the likes of Digital Artist Magazine, so you can catch up with some of her techniques there. I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more of Bex’ unique style.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover Hart's Bakery
Bex Glover with a Hart’s Bakery bicycle biscuit.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Katie Harnett Lahloo Tea
Katie checks out the Lahloo tea – she’s a big tea fan! Hence her moniker Teabelle!

Katie Harnett is just coming to the end of her degree at UWE, so she’s been very busy putting that together – I look forward to seeing the show in July when it comes to London!

Jasper Conran A/W 2011 by Katie Harnett
Jasper Conran A/W 2011 by Katie Harnett. She has also been experimenting with some new techniques and animal drawings.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Katie Harnett
She came along with an old school friend and fellow UWE student Lilly Allen, but sadly no one else from UWE came along. I put it down to the frantic time of year…

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Kat and Rog of Howkowpow
It was a pleasure to meet Kat and Rog of Howkapow, who stock a delicious range of goodies on their website. Kat is a girl after my own heart – a lover of bright colours and patterns with an 80s flavour. All good things I say! She was wearing an eye-catching Gonzalo Cutrina Extinct necklace from her website. It’s a mere £55 – what a bargain:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Gonzalo Cutrina Extinct necklace Howkapow
The Howkapow website invests in new and unknown designers and they plan to open an agency to fully support them alongside. Why not find out more about what they are up to on the Howkapow blog?

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Ben Newman
It was lovely to finally meet illustrator Ben Newman, who illustrated for two issues of Amelia’s Magazine back at the start of what has become a very successful career. What a lovely smiley chap he is!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lauren Neko, Bonina Silvestre and Charlotte Pain
Lauren Neko, Bonina Silvestre and Charlotte Pain.

It was also nice to meet the fabulously named Bonina Silvestre and her friend Charlotte Pain, both studying art. Lauren Neko sings and reads dreams. Impressed!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lesley Barnes badgesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lesley Barnes dancing bear tote
There are countless good reasons to visit Soma Gallery, either at Fiona’s space in Bristol, or online from anywhere in the world: Soma Gallery stocks Lesley Barnes prints, and also Lesley Barnes dancing bear badges… and tote bags.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton badgesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton badges
Fiona has an old specialist printer with which she makes these adorable badges: I couldn’t resist buying a metallic pair of brightly coloured rodents. Also stocked at Comma Shop.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Tom Frost
Soma stocks a wide range of one off and limited edition art, including this lovely screenprinted wooden piece from Tom Frost.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Donna Wilson creaturesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Donna Wilson creatures and Lisa Jones cushion
Donna Wilson animals are in abundant supply, as are Lisa Jones prints, cushions (above) mugs and cards:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Roger La Borde cards
And of course Soma also does a roaring trade with my new Roger La Borde range. Yay! Make sure you visit Soma Gallery soon.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Ben Newman
Ben Newman reads my Anthology of Illustration.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lauren Neko
Lauren Neko.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lilly Allen
Lilly Allen.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Rog, Fiona, Kat
Rog, Fiona and Kat.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Stephanie Weise
Stephanie Weise.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011
I sat on the floor to give my talk, it was all very informal!
You can read Fiona Hamilton’s marvellous account of the night here.

Don’t forget that I have one more date on my ACOFI Book Tour – if you live in London please do join me at Tatty Devine, Brick Lane, on Tuesday 7th May. I’ll be talking from 7.30pm and there will also be the opportunity to learn how to make iced biscuits with Biscuiteers! Read about my first tour date a few weeks back at Tatty Devine, Covent Garden. Lovely stuff. Join the facebook for the event here.

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