A Creative Family

PUBLISHED: 15:01 22 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:45 20 February 2013

Amy Trevaskus and her mother, Sheila Clifton, in The Blue Room

Amy Trevaskus and her mother, Sheila Clifton, in The Blue Room

A delightful shop in Nailsea offers a window into the world of local art, <br/><br/>writes Sarah Ford

A delightful shop in Nailsea offers a window into the world of local art,
writes Sarah Ford

The Blue Room has been described as a breath of fresh air and a favourite place by people who have visited the shop in Nailsea. A showcase for a wide range of local art and craft work, from photography to stained glass and from jewellery to unique pottery, The Blue Room is the inspiration of Sheila Clifton and her two daughters, Nicola and Amy. They realised there were many talented artists within the area needing an outlet for their work and they also have a small number of visiting artists from as far afield as Africa.

There is a particular emphasis on supporting local artists who use recycled and eco-friendly materials and, in keeping with the aims of the project, the interior of the shop has also been designed using local reclaimed materials.
The family has a wealth of creative talent. Sheila makes unique bespoke handbags from recycled and reclaimed materials. Her daughter Nicola designs and makes beautiful beaded jewellery and Amy is a writer and deals with the marketing and PR.

This is a family business in every sense of the word as Sheila and the girls also share the care of David, Sheilas husband and the girls father, who suffers from a progressive degenerative disease. Sheila gave up her full-time job as an accounts manager of a local publishing company to care for her husband and finds that focusing on her creative skills is a great help in coping with the challenges she faces.
The family is very close-knit and bursting with enthusiasm and energy, ensuring that this project will go from strength to strength. In fact, the shop has proved so successful that the family is planning to move into bigger premises this summer.

Somerset-based travel book publisher Alastair Sawday was one of those who was impressed when he attended the opening last year. He said: It is encouraging to see that a small, family project like the Blue Room can still happen in this era of grim standardisation where towns begin to look alike. Few people have the guts to stick to their principles and promote local suppliers, artisans and artists. This the Blue Room does with real commitment and integrity.

Shelias daughter Amy Trevaskus says The Blue Room now has a very interesting waiting list of local and visiting artists who are looking to showcase their work there. We have over 35 artists featured in the shop. We have had a massive response from the artists and a really good reaction from customers. People come back regularly to buy for themselves or birthdays and it has become apparent that its important to people to buy something they know something about. We know where everything is from and why the artists decided to do what they do because we talk to them regularly.

Ping and Pong were my imaginary childhood friends. Dad even used to strap them in the car for me!

Amy, who runs her own copywriting agency and lives in Yatton, has also been celebrating her success as a childrens author. Her first two books, Splash and Grow, feature the characters Ping and Pong and their best friend, Lucy. The titles are aimed at three-to-seven-year-olds and are illustrated by Amys university friend Alison Heath.
Ping and Pong are Lucys two imaginary friends and inspiration for the stories comes from Amys own childhood. Ping and Pong were my imaginary childhood friends. Dad even used to strap them in the car for me! she recalls.

Amy, who has always written, whether it is short stories, poetry or childrens stories, says she decided about a year ago to do something about her dream of becoming a childrens writer. She has been helped on the business side of the project by Jeff Bartlett, who is her co-director in the Ping and Pong company. And Amy says that in her illustrations, Alison has managed to capture the characters just as she always imagined them.
Butler, Tanner & Dennis in Frome printed the books and Amy describes them as fantastic. They realised how important it was for me and I felt quite emotional on the day I received my books. I could not look inside the box as it felt too unreal and finally opened it when I was on my own.

It was amazing and I will never forget that day.
Ping and Pong have proved to be a big hit with Amys target audience and she describes a tour of local schools as the best week of her life as a childrens author. I was so amazed by the response to Ping and Pong and was really impressed with some of the questions I was asked. The best few have been: How old are you in the photo in the back of the book? and Do you want to be as famous as JK Rowling?

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