Here at Oxfam Mill road, you will undoubtedly know that we are not the normal type of charity shop.
Vintage is at our heart, and we would like to inspire you to see what you could achieve by visiting our vintage clothing section. I’m confident you’ll walk out with a unique and different outfit.
Check out our recent Vintage shoot inspired by Goth, Skater and 90’s Fashion trends:
Sophie And Lois
Pip And Sean
Lois shows us how to pull off the 90s inspired look that everyone is after right now. She wears a black ribbed crop top, black skater skirt, a plaid shirt and white Converse. As stunning as she looks, there’s a 90s essential missing: a choker! Have you got one you never wear? Donate it!
Sean shows us how to do the summer skater look in loose fitting denim shorts, stag print tee, canvas rucksack and Vans skate shoes.
The whole look is finished off with a bandanna tied around the wrist and shades. He just needs a board now so if you’ve given up skating and still have your board, donate it!
Sophie is fabulously festival-ready in this vintage lacy petticoat.
Accessorising is the only way to pull off underwear as outerwear and this studded belt, the black Doc Martins and the flash of colour from the bandana complete this look.
Pip adds a touch a gig glamour, in the seductive sheer shirt, high-waisted ‘leather’ skirt and killer heels.
The best and the worst entries will win a prize! closing date Monday the 28th of July.
As Cambridge studios draws to a close, here are the dates for next year:
Weekend (1) July 4th-5th
Weekend (2) July 11th-12th
Weekend (3) July 18th-19th
Weekend (4) July 25th-26th
Ian Smith – Glass, Fused, Cast, Stained
Ian has always loved the feel and appearance of glass.
After a career in science & engineering, He started exploring what was achievable in this medium.
Ian discovered that glass is an amazing material. The way it reacts to heat, cold, pressure and abrasion can be surprising. If you can understand what the glass wants to do, you can make wonderful objects.
Above all, Ian wants his designs to be functional and useful as well as beautiful. He concentrates on making bowls, plates, dishes and containers, although bowls are Ian’s favourite form.
Most recently, Ian has been exploring the fabrication of thicker-walled kiln-formed bowls, using various designs and different approaches.
You can connect with Ian by visiting his website. Ian takes commissions all year round.
Amanda describes her work as lively, usable and contemporary.
She is inspired by using her natural ability to observe the world around her, the simple process of viewing other practicing artists exhibitions and galleries motivates her to translate what she has viewed into her own unique work.
Amanda’s biggest influence is her husband who is a set designer. Being in an environment where your life partner is also a creative professional gives Amanda the ability for frequent creative debate with him.
Amanda studied illustration and design at Art School and worked as a freelance illustrator producing work for various books and magazines and has shown her work nationally.
Amanda taught Graphics and Illustration on the Cambridge Foundation Course for many years.
When asked what did Cambridge Open studios mean to her, she enthusiastically described that it was hugely important to give her visitors a personal insight into to her work. Alison thrives on being able to explain to a wide range of audiences how she would go about creating her unique pieces.
Another very important part of this experience is sharing her techniques with others, and being able to learn new ones by the medium of the spoken word.
Part of Alison’s studio is to run workshops for all ages to share her techniques, were the participants can walk away with a unique bone china mug or plate they have created.
Even those who say “I can’t draw a line” are enthralled by what they achieve.
You can connect with Alison by visiting her website.
More information about the classes she runs can be found here.
Alison also welcomes commissions. You can find out about her forthcoming events here.
Valerie Jean Pettifer – Mixed Media And Pastel Painting
Valerie Grew up in York, and loved nothing more than spending her time drawing and painting. Her ambition was to train as a commercial artist, but in the 60′s this was not viewed as a ‘proper job’ for a girl, so she trained in hairdressing instead, and moved to London to work in the family business.
Valerie spent the next 9 years in this profession, before a change of direction took her into the electronics industry where she pursued a successful 33 year career in HR, specialising in Vocational Skills Training and Occupational Safety & Health; sadly art stayed on the back-burner.
Everything was set to change, in 2006 with her retirement looming a chance invitation to join her aunt on a painting holiday changed the course of her life.
The dormant passion for drawing and painting was reignited and after joining the Royston Arts Society in 2008, she was delighted when two pastel paintings were sold in their annual exhibition.
Whilst all this was going on Valerie spent all her time attending painting workshops, reading art books, visiting galleries and eventually tutoring painting holidays and workshops.
In 2012 Valerie took yet another step forward by signing up for Cambridge Open Studios. Her entire house became a gallery and she opened her studio (a back bedroom) to the public for two weekends in July.
Valerie has described her first experience being part of Open Studios as ‘amazing’. She met so many interesting people and found it wonderful to share her experiences and art work with other like-minded people.
The last chapter in this saga started in 2013; a studio in the Old School, Whittlesford – a venue became vacant for both workshops, Cambridge Open Studios and a permanent gallery for my work. It was inevitable that Valerie knew to snap this opportunity up.
Valerie hopes that her story will inspire you to take up the wonderful hobby of painting – it’s never too late to start!
Sue will be showing her new collection of vibrant original paintings and cards, including land and seascapes in a variety of media, exploring movement, light and reflections. To find out more about Sue, visit her website.
Valerie will be using this opportunity to show her latest collection of mixed media work, including semi-abstracted collage & acrylic works on canvas, card and watercolour supports.
She’s currently experimenting with acrylic mono-printing, so she hopes to have some interesting results to exhibit, which will also be available to purchase.
Valerie considers Cambridge Open Studios a highlight of the local artistic calendar, it not only gives her the opportunity to invite both friends and the public in to view her studio and paintings, but also have the chance to talk about the wide range of arts and craft based workshops that are regularly held in the studio.
Roger trained as a fine artist at Edinburgh College of Art, and has never lost contact with the hand and eye skills I developed there. In 1968 he became a founder member of ‘The Welfare State’ community arts group, which carved out a reputation for innovative celebratory events and performances.
In the late 60s and early 70s he taught at Leeds and St Martins schools of art, and later worked on community-based renovation projects, acquiring the designing and making skills that he applied to developing socially useful products and services through the GLC technology networks when the red flag flew above County Hall in Margaret Thatcher’s era.
In 1991 Roger set up a flourishing centre for ‘inclusive’ design at the Royal College of Art, to ensure that older and disabled people are no longer marginalised by inconsiderate design. The centre also specialises in design for safer and better healthcare.
Alongside photography and drawing, Rodger designs and makes furniture in his workshop/studio. You can visit Roger in July and at other times along with my ceramicist wife, Sally Reilly.
You can connect with Rodger by visiting his website.
That wraps up our feature on artists taking part in the 2014 Cambridge Open Studios. I very much hope we’ve inspired you to go visit our featured artists, and also look at the many others taking part in COS.
Don’t forget, if you didn’t have a chance to see this years artists, there possibly be a chance to view their Winter show. Check out the website for more info.
If you are an artist wanting to take part in next years Cambridge open studios, click here for more information.
Keep your eyes peeled for our future blogs on how as a shop, we are involved within the Cambridge arts scene.
There has been a record number of 272 artists committing to throw open their studio doors this year, creating a buzz within one of Cambridge’s best well known events in the cities art calendar.
Cambridge Open Studios is the longest-standing open studios events in the country, as it dates back to the 1960s and appears to be getting more popular every year.
Over the weekends of July 5/6, 12/13, 19/20 and 26/27, artists of all kinds throughout Cambridgeshire will open their doors to members of the public, completely free, and share a few of their artistic secrets.
Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase original works of art, and in some cases prints, greetings cards or postcards, though there will be no pressure to buy.
They can also speak with artists about their work, or even see works in progress, to discover their techniques.
Participating studios will be open from 11am-6pm though it is worth mentioning that not all studios are open on all the dates so visitors should check the website in advance.
To give you some inspiration, here’s our top pick of artists with open studios only this weekend…
Fernando Feijoo – Visual Artist/Illustrator
Fernando describes his work as social, political and expressive.
He took part in Cambridge Open Studios 10 years ago whilst working as a printmaker. He’s returned this year in the hope that by having an open studio it would enable him to collaborate with local artists and broaden his audience base.
The main focus of Fernando’s work is a reflection on contemporary society, going as far as using his art to respond to social and political current affairs. Influences from the work of Hogarth and Goya were Fernando reinterprets and develops their narrative into a modern day context. See the image above.
There is a very strong sequential narrative, it’s been observed that Fernando’s work can be an immersive ‘where’s Wally’ experience. The observer can view his work and find numerous features that they may have not experience at first glance.
Fernando is currently working in collaboration with Matt Bagnal of The District Limited called #Project_Run2014. Together they are using a range of materials to creatively interpret the word run to produce a book and prints.
Abi describes her work as sliver, detailed and organic.
She was inspired by her three generations of female creatives, Abi’s great grandmother mother and grandmother; Catherine ‘Casty’ Cobb.
Casty taught Abi up until the age of 18 alongside numerous committed students all the way through to her 90’s. Casty died on the 17th of September 1995.
After Casty past away, Abi spent time with Casty’s most committed and experienced students, advancing her knowledge and experience within the silversmith trade.
Abi’s creations are universally unique one of pieces using traditional techniques, such as Filigree wirework and fabrication. To compliment and accentuate her creations, Abi uses gems, resin and enamel.
Abi’s main influence comes from her Grandmother along side with fluid patterns and intricate detail. These influences translate frequently into her handiwork in the form of (and not just limited to) necklaces, cufflinks and lockets along with custom orders.
Her most recent influences include landscape aerial photography, specifically rivers running through rocky mountain ranges.
Abi explains that this influences her to “layer smoothly curving wires over textured silver and then embellish with gemstones and gold granulation.”
She has begun documenting this process by the creation of a ‘How To’ video. This can be found on her Facebook page.
Abi was asked what Cambridge open studios experience meant to her; “Cambridge Open Studios is a wonderful way to meet locals; Potential customers as well as making connections with other artists and makers. It’s a really nice way to get direct feedback.
Seeing someone in the natural habitat of their workspace is often more memorable than seeing work in a gallery or craft show, you get a sense of what has gone into the work, the tools and materials.
I’ve had customers who have visited my workshop over 10 years before and have remembered me when they’ve needed something special. I get lots of custom orders through Open Studios, it’s been a big part of my business.”
Seb would describe his work as strong, figurative and contemporary. His greatest influences are numerous – figurative painters ranging from Lucien Freud to Jenny Saville and Simon Davis. Seb is constantly looking at new artists which inspires him to improve his work. He also produces contemporary portrait and landscape paintings. His work has been exhibited at various galleries in the UK and Hong Kong. When asked about what Cambridge Open studios means to him, he said: COS is a good opportunity to show my work and speak to people about it in person. It’s a chance to discuss ideas and processes as well as getting feedback. It’s also great to see other artists work on display. To connect with Seb, you can visit his website. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Seb is represented by Graham Fine Art, Crouch End Seb’s studio is located at 22 Sturton Street, Cambridge CB1 2QA
Sandy Mcphoenix – Textiles
Sandy describes her work as retro, colour and everyday glamour.
She runs Felix and Bloom Studio, making accessories with a retro feel for the home and self. She uses vintage fabric, scraps, found and scrounged dressmaking and upholstery fabric and retro-styled fabric.
Sandy’s quirky and unique items range from brooches which are statement blooms with vintage linen and lace, real pearls, crystal beads, tulle, organza, liberty fabric centres, to embroidered sculptures: cottage gardens in display glass domes with wooden bases.
Like most creative folk, Sandy’s influence comes from her childhood; remembering mother had an old Singer that she always said was the portable kind – shiny green forged steel, unbelievably heavy, with gold writing.
“It sat on a table – perhaps the desk my sister now has in her study in Sydney – the same one my father had as a boy. I remember the piano next to it, piled high with papers, letters and blankets, perhaps even a fishbowl.
That was my parents’ bedroom and the sun would be at your back, blazing in and doing its best to fade everything. There was a tin trunk that you’d bash your shins on. My sister and I would rotate slowly on a chair while my mother pinned our hems and said she was only sticking us with pins because we weren’t standing properly still. “
Her specific inspirations come from fabrics and nature – the garden: bugs and flowers and colours; and fabrics that tell you exactly what they want to be made into. Sandy is drawn to old things, retro fabrics, things that have that wabi sabi aesthetic of bashed-around beauty.
She has been quoted in saying: “Maybe it’s all to do with being Of a Certain Age myself and laughing up my own bell sleeve at the idea that I wear lipstick every day, know how to tie scarves and can do a speedy bouffant hairdo at the traffic lights. “
Future plans for Sandy include sewing and creative workshops for students of all levels, further web tutorials and the creation more vintage idiosyncrasies.
Sandy’s opportunity to participate in Cambridge Open Studios is hugely advantageous for her as she gets to talk to visitors about that vitally important thing – making things.
“It could be how I’ve made something or their experience of sewing or crocheting or sewing with our mums or sisters or how they learned embroidery at school on that weird fabric with holes punched in it.
This year my studio has been an “exhibiting studio”, which means it’s a kind of gallery-shop, which I’ve loved setting up. I’ve had no luck finding a job playing with puppies or kittens, so doing Open Studios is a great second choice – I get to make things I’d want in my house and things I want to wear.
I feel privileged and proud that visitors have spent their hard- earned money on my handmade items, choosing my insects for their anniversary present, a bloom for their glamorous lapel or one of my cottage domes for their table.”
To connect with Sandy, visit her website and you can also read her Blog.
Mohammed’s artistic aims come from social observation expressed through the medium of pencil drawings, etchings and oil paintings. He was born in the north-eastern Iranian town of Bojnourd in 1948 into an artistic family, with a grandfather who sculpted and a father who was a well-known local painter.
Under his father’s tutelage Mohammed learnt to paint from childhood under his father’s tutelage and had his first exhibition at 14, when his paintings were displayed alongside those of Bojnourd’s other artists.
During a trip to Tehran, the adolescent Mohammed met renowned Iranian realist painter, Tikran Bazel.
During his time in Tehran, he took drawing and painting classes at Bazel’s studio, gained a degree at the Tehran Art University and then progressed to the role of Bazel’s assistant tutor with responsibilities to teach private drawing classes.
Mohammed’s later influences include Cezanne and Monet, and in 1974 became the art expert at the Anthropology Centre of Iran.
Ophelia Days came to visit us for the final time to sample the shops unique vintage fashion.
She’s provided us with a brilliant write up to give you an idea what unique items you can find!
Well hello dear readers and welcome aboard the good train ‘Ophelia does Oxfam’ for the second – and sadly – final time you are indeed bound for glory!
If you didn’t catch my first review, you can find that here.
We hope you having been out and about enjoying the rarity that is British Sunshine on the odd occasions that it has graced us with its presence.
Maybe you’ve even started thinking about putting away your winter wardrobe, like a much loved hibernating hedgehog, for another year and realising that you are not yet prepared for a summer of strappy tops, shorts and slingbacks.
Fear not! We are here to aid and assist you in finding those perfect pieces that complete your look, be it for a BBQ with your boss, a festival with your friends or a wedding with a woman whose name you can’t remember.
All of fashion is here ladies and gentlemen. You just need a few minutes, a mentality for rummaging and a few bob in your purse! (Speaking of bobs, today we will be meeting one but more on that later).
On our second visit to Oxfam Mill Road, it being during the half term break, we were accompanied by the daughter herself, a budding quirky style queen and creator of many of Ophelia’s more outlandish outfits of old.
For her this was like a visit to a sweet shop with a free reign to indulge herself on whatever she wanted. She has never had a sweet tooth but her passion for vintage fashion and styling is delightful at times, but I’ll let you into a little secret dear readers…there were creative differences!
My goodness, I wasn’t expecting to suddenly find myself with fashions answer to Gordon Ramsey, but I did! She was like Gok on a bad day, Trinny in a tizz, Susannah in a strop! It was ‘No, not that hat!’, ‘Never should you put that with that!’, ‘I don’t care if the dress is back to front, that’s how she’s wearing it!’ and ‘Those colours together are a disaster!’.
Like a creative whirlwind she whipped through the rails leaving a slight trail of hangers and tags behind her and getting in the way of other shoppers. Anyway, hopefully you will like the results!
Before the requisite refreshments could be sorted we had a quick catch up with Bob, a man many of you will already know, a familiar face to anyone who frequents Mill Rd.
He’s a champion of the compliment, who ensures that no visitor to the shop gets away without experiencing the charisma and friendliness that he exudes (and that goes for Our Ophelia too as you will see!).
Bob McKay, a mere 58, has lived in the area a long long time, excluding a 5 year interval in the sunnier climes of Gran Canaria and has been witness to many changes. Bob came back from Spain 15 years ago and told me that there used to be a saying that went “If you can’t get it down Mill Road you can’t get it anywhere.”
Times have undoubtedly changed the area but Bob feels Mill Road is still a good little community. He has worked at Oxfam Mill Rd as a volunteer dishing out change and charm in equal measure for the last 3 years.
He tells me he loves the customer relations, the banter, the friendliness and does it because its good for Oxfam and its good for him. Well, its great for us and long may it continue!
Deidre wondered if she should give up on her dream of getting Billy to be her Piano Man…
Unfortunately it’s time for us to go for now dear readers. We’ve had fun and frolics in the treasure trove that is Oxfam Mill Road but other jobs are calling and Ophelia has had to don her cape and pants and run to their rescue.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the photos in this blog and the last and that they encourage you to enhance your wardrobe with a few timeless pieces from the shop!
If you’ve ever stepped in store here at Oxfam Mill rd, you will probably have noticed the brilliant artistry, shop displays and vinyl collection on show. Today we’re chatting to Pupsy, the man responsible for all this, and who’s been volunteering with us for 5 years.
What’s your role here at Oxfam Mill Rd, Pupsy?
I mainly deal with the music, pricing and collectable albums. I’ve been collecting music for about forty years. I know quite a lot about music as my mum used to dance in the theatre and that. I also worked at the BBC in the 80’s so that experience helps. On top of that I’m the shops volunteer artist.
Yep, a lot of the graffiti and artwork around the shop is my own stuff. I’ve been a charity artist anyway, working for CLIC Sargent (For Children and Young People with Cancer) and others. It’s great fun.
All the work I produce is for sale in Oxfam and all profits go directly to it.
What made you decide to volunteer for Oxfam?
Well, originally my son was the manager and he realised Mill Rd had lots of collectable vinyl that wasn’t being priced correctly. So I got involved helping out with that for about two and a half years. I met Mungo, now the manager, at a previous job. When my son left, Mungo took over here and because I really enjoy the work here, I stayed on contributing a couple of hours each month. I love doing it. I love the atmosphere here and it’s brilliant to be able to contribute my artwork for a great cause.
Also, when I’m not here, I work as a carer working for two elderly gentlemen. It’s quite a full on job so this time in the shop is a fantastic break for me – meeting with others and having a laugh really.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering here?
I like the atmosphere in this shop – it’s like a family. I think that that’s something special about this Oxfam. We have people from all over, from different backgrounds and we support each other, like a family really. The shop is also quite alternative which is what draws me here also.
If you had to describe yourself as a flavour of ice cream, what flavour would you be?
[Pause] Pistachio. ‘Cus I’m nuts!
What would you say to those who are thinking about volunteering here at Oxfam Mill Rd?
I’d say ‘go for it!’ It’s a good thing to do. It’s a great shop to work in if you’re young with an alternative outlook. There are many Oxfams you can volunteer for but if you want something a bit more quirky, with a strong independent feel then this is the best shop to do so.
You can find out more about volunteering for Oxfam via the Oxfam website. Alternatively you can pop in store or email Mungo the manager at oxfamshopf2504(at)oxfam.org.uk.
Check in again soon when we’ll be catching up with more volunteers in store.
The marvellous Mill Rd Oxfam store is kept ticking along by a dedicated team of volunteers. From the window displays, to working the till, to writing these blog posts; each volunteer brings their valued skills to the table, and all for a great cause.
We caught up with Margo who’s been with us for a few months, and asked her of her experience helping out in store.