Sam Walton on Hole & Corner and the Port Eliot Festival

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Hole & Corner is a quarterly journal which describes itself as ‘celebrating craft, beauty, passion and skill’. Sam’s background is in working as an art director and designer in publishing and for such magazines as Vogue and World of Interiors. In recent years, Sam has got Hole & Corner involved with the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, where they host a makers’ tent, including talks, workshops and demonstrations with some of the finest craftspeople in the country. We asked Sam about Hole & Corner and how he got involved with the festival.

What is the ethos behind Hole & Corner?

I launched Hole & Corner to celebrate creativity and craft, especially those who live life on their own terms, and follow their passion.

We’re interested in developing the idea of a Hole & Corner life – an authentic lifestyle, where we’re more conscientious about our purchases, and understand the provenance and stories behind the things we buy.

What does the name refer to?

‘Hole-and-Corner: adj, secret: describing a place or a life lived away from the mainstream’.

What drew you towards craftsmanship and the decision to start Hole & Corner?

A combination of elements really, I had been working on a number of commercial projects focusing on brands’ heritage and craftsmanship, which was predominantly aimed at the Chinese market. I was also quite far down the food provenance road, regularly visiting food markets and meeting producers, and could see this developing into other aspects of our lifestyle. And finally, and perhaps most influential, was my move out of the city to a village in Dorset. I think slowing things down a little and taking the time to listen to people, it brought a humility, which perhaps I had lacked in the city. 

Do you feel genuine craftsmanship is making a real comeback?

For sure, but it’s also about finding balance in our lives. Digital life has brought us many amazing things, but no doubt there is a great need to connect face-to-face, learn new skills and relax away from the screen. I think more and more people will discover new passions which may bring career changes – I’ve met many talented makers in the last four years who have done just that.

Do you see yourself as a craftsman?

Well I certainly think my years as an art director and designer of magazines is my craft, sadly the word craft has been tarnished in recent years by ‘crafting’, but I feel through H&C we try to bring that focus back to learning and developing one’s craft. But if you mean, making or creating something by hand – not really, I’m not terribly patient!

How did you meet Cathy St Germans?

Through a mutual friend, Derek. He’s been involved with the planning of the festival for many years. I happened to bump into Derek in Soho shortly after we published issue 01. He was heading off to Cornwall the next morning and took an issue along to show to Cathy and the team. That started things, I guess.

Whose idea was it to become involved with the Port Eliot Festival?

I produced a document before I launched the magazine which outlined the activity I hoped to develop, the magazine, films, selling products and hosting events. I had actually reappropriated an illustration my father had drawn of a tent at Latitude festival many years ago. I added the Hole & Corner logo on the outside and used this visual in the document – it’s actually quite uncanny how similar it looks to our Port Eliot set up.

Had you been to the festival before your involvement?

I had heard good things from friends in the fashion industry, but until Cathy invited me along I hadn’t visited. It’s a beautiful place and an amazing weekend.

Are you much of a festival-goer?

Yes, I guess I am. My family are big festival-goers – Mum and Dad have been at Glastonbury for the last 25 years. Not much of a camper though – I cope.

What do you have lined up for this year’s makers’ tent?

We have a great line up this year, lots of new talent and workshops planned. Julia Jarvis from our office has been working tirelessly for some months now, meeting and vetting new makers. We’ll be printing, carving, forging, throwing pots, sewing and much more.

Will you be taking any of this year’s makers’ tent workshops?

I rarely find the time to sit down. It’s hard to focus enough to make it worthwhile – I enjoy seeing everyone else getting stuck in, though. I might take the spoon carving kit I was kindly gifted by my friend Robin Wood. Perhaps I’ll make some progress on a spoon or two after hours.

What do you have lined up for future editions of Hole & Corner?

We have the themes fixed for the next four issues. Next up is Material out mid-September, in time for LDF – for which we’ve curated the British Craft Pavilion at the Truman Brewery. It’s shaping up nicely, I’ll finish it off during August.

A selection of images from last year’s festival, can be seen here.

Port Eliot is from the 27th July until the 30th July 2017. More information at Port Eliot.