For ten days every August Cheltenham was the centre of the universe for connoisseurs of craftsman made, designer furniture. They came in their thousands to the ‘Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design’ exhibition to admire, covet, commission and buy the finest hand-made furniture in the country, some might say the world.
This extravaganza of 75 makers showed some 350 pieces and was the brainchild of Betty Norbury. While other similar exhibitions have disappeared ‘Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design’ went from strength to strength. What was the secret of her success? This is basically a male dominated world and craftsmen are notoriously impossible to deal with. Having been married to woodsculptor Ian Norbury for 40 years and having worked at a bench herself, gives Betty a unique insight into the aspirations and ethic of the furniture makers world. Her tight organization, personal attention to detail and ceaseless devotion to quality strike a chord with makers whose lives are devoted to detail and quality, but are desperately in need of organisation.
After 15 years at the helm Betty sold the exhibition in 2009.
Her name is greatly respected both in Britain and abroad, not least for her book ‘Furniture for 21st Century’, (launched at the Banqueting House in London) which is the definitive reference work on late 20th century furniture makers.