On The Spot

Polly Leonard answers readers' questions about The World Fair

Thank you to everyone who has given so generously to our Kickstarter Campaign. I have received so many messages of support and questions about the event I thought it might be useful if shared some of them with you.

What are the dates and location?

We don’t yet have definite dates, but our preferred dates are either the last week in June or the first week in July 2020. As for location, Kensington Gardens is where we would love to hold the fair. It is central, has great transport links, and is close to both the V&A and the Design Museum. We can't confirm Kensington Gardens yet, because as it is one of the Royal Parks it is governed by their protocol. Selvedge must submit a bid to hold the World Fair there, and we can't do that until tenders are invited later in the year.

 Is the festival just about textiles?

The focus of the event will be textiles, as that is where our expertise lies. However, our partners, The International Folk Art Market (IFAM) based in Santa Fe, include goods of all materials in their offering. In our joint enterprise we plan to have 75% textiles, the other 25% being made up of jewellery, baskets, beads and other crafts. We want the fair to have wide appeal, but it wouldn't be a Selvedge event without textiles at its heart.

How will the Selvedge World Fair differ from the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe?

I have long been an admirer of the energy and vibrancy of the International Folk Art Market, but we are not simply attempting to create a London-based edition. The geography and history of the two locations and organisations means that we have some interesting points of convergence and divergence; I suspect Selvedge will have a stronger representation from the Commonwealth and Europe in our application pool, I also suspect the pool will relate to the contents of the magazine and therefore have a slightly less traditional feel. However, we do hope to replicate the spirit and atmosphere of the International Folk Art Market and to follow their example by hosting artisans from as many countries as possible.

Who can apply?

There will be  two categories in which artisans can submit an application:

A Traditional interpretation of a craft indigenous to your home country

B Innovative interpretation of a craft indigenous to your home country

We will accept applications from; individual artists, companies, NGOs, cooperatives and not-for-profits etc..

How do I apply to exhibit?

Applications to exhibit open in June 2019. You will be able to follow a link from the Selvedge website to the application form on our partner organisations’ IFAM site . They have fifteen years of experience and have developed a robust infrastructure to manage large numbers of applicants. We are expecting upwards of a thousand applicants.

What about artists from the UK, are they excluded?

No, the event is open to the whole world and of course, that includes the UK. Although we don’t want the event to be dominated by any one country so there will be the same limitations on the number of participants from the UK as there are from any other country.

What about the regular exhibitors at Selvedge fairs?

Of course, there will be room for the makers and merchants our readers expect to see at our events. We will have a marquee for antique textiles and another for haberdashery and notions, so you can pick up all of your craft supplies once you have been inspired by our makers.

Is the festival just about selling?

The primary aim of the Selvedge Foundation is to provide economic opportunities to the makers of handmade textiles worldwide, so introducing makers to our readers and supporters is very important. However, there will also be a programme of panel discussions and talks, as well as workshops and craft activities for children both at the festival and around London, in the days leading up to the event.

If I donate how will my money be spent?

If you donate to our Kickstarter campaign your money will be spent on the infrastructure of the event; insurance, security, marquees, toilets, generators, the list is endless. We also plan to make applications to public funding bodies to help with administration costs and with the costs involved in hosting artisans from overseas, many of whom will need assistance with travel and accommodation expenses.

I am not able to give a donation, how can I help?

The Selvedge Word Fair will be a community event and we are grateful for whatever support you can give. There will be lots of volunteer opportunities, which we will have more information about later, but for now, you can sign up on our website. We are also looking for sponsorship either financial or in kind. Please email for more details. We will try to involve as many of the wonderful companies and individuals who have helped make Selvedge what it is today. Our ambition is that with your help the Selvedge World Fair will share the reputation for excellence that Selvedge magazine has worked hard to build over the years.

How many visitors are you expecting?

It is always difficult to make accurate estimations, but we are basing our estimate on the events Selvedge has held in the past, as well as historic visitor numbers to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe and their satellite event in Arlington, Texas. Our goal is 5,000 visitors in the first year increasing to 7,500 in the second year and 10,000 in the third year, at which point the event would be financially self-sufficient.

I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions. Please email if you have others. Please do spread the word on your social media using #selvedgeworldfair

Best Wishes

Polly Leonard

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  • Barbara Wenger on

    Dear Polly,
    Although I live in Spain, I was introduced to your publication by a friend in the UK and since then receive it here in Madrid.
    I absolutely love it and when I read about the Fair next year, I was delighted and contributed immediatly. I love textiles and handmade items from Europe or further afield and have gone to South America for a weaving course, to India to look for textiles and I myself have been a pupil in a weaving school here in Madrid for the last 10 years. So, I am so looking forward to your wonderful event and look everyday on the webside to see if you have reached the goal of 30000. My only worry now is that you might not and the fair will not take place. So please, forget modesty just" pester" as many people and companies as possible, I want to come to London next summer for this grand experience! Best wishes Barbara Wenger

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