Over the summer, designer and TV presenter, Linda Barker, helped HOMELINK sound a Sussex-wide call to action to encourage makers, of all ages and all abilities, to create and donate an item for the home or garden in aid of HOMELINK’S latest campaign, #homes4families. The handmade items submitted have been used to build a unique auction to raise vital funds for the vulnerable local families we help into homes.

The response to our creative challenge has been astounding – we received over a hundred lovingly made items representing every imaginable craft from glass sculpture, tapestry and textile art through to root carvings, mosaics and copper work.

Linda Barker said: “It’s been a really lovely project and thank you to all the people taking part because there were lots of you and it was tremendous to look at such a high calibre of craft across the county. It’s been super taking part.”

Alongside Linda, fellow judges—leading ‘craftivist’ Alinah Azadeh, and former ‘Changing Rooms’ presenter and interior design expert, Oliver Heath—had the unenviable task of judging the submitted work. Linda announced the winners at a special Facebook event premiered on World Homeless Day, October 10th at 7pm, two hours before the close of the fundraising auction.

Alinah Azadeh told us: “Great idea of HOMELINK to get people making things for the home and reminding those of us who are privileged enough to live in stable housing to appreciate and adorn our spaces with the handmade—one-offs which are so much more meaningful. It was a diverse range of entries and wonderful to see a wide range of techniques and also what people make alone, and together, when life is such an intense challenge for us all.”

Oliver Heath said: “The HOMELINK “Home is where the craft is” online auction is a fabulous opportunity to create, participate and buy some inspirational art and craft pieces. The auction has seen some incredible works of art, sculpture and craft donated, that real passion has been poured into—the lucky auction winners will be very happy I’m sure.

Here’s Linda announcing the winners and a short showcase of just some of the wonderful submissions:



The Winners


Outstanding Effort: Jonathan Chiswell Jones for Lustreware Bowl

The judges unanimously agreed the painstaking effort and technical expertise that has gone into the crafting of this reduced lustre bowl was outstanding. Alinah particularly loved the gold on blue and how the hares’ ears form the centrepiece; she also appreciated its playfulness and the huge effort, technically, to produce such an exquisite bowl. Oliver thought the bowl very desirable and a beautifully crafted and illustrated piece. And Linda absolutely loved the design—the hares here not being in any way ‘cutsie’ but instead quite outstanding and rather magical. She also adored the way their paws intertwine into some kind of Celtic knot.

Judges Favourite: Julie French for ‘Crow, Crow!’

A firm favourite with the judges, they were really impressed with this unique embroidery piece made using free-motion embroidery as a drawing tool on reclaimed furnishing fabric. Alinah thought this was a powerful and dynamic piece of embroidery-in-motion and Linda loved this piece, too – the loose threads and its dramatic pose. Oliver praised the dynamism and movement of the work, expressed so beautifully through its embroidered medium. The judges all agreed this piece was really captivating..

Best craft newcomer: Heather Simms for ‘Crochet Blanket’

Heather Simms is usually a knitter but during the Covid lockdown learnt how to crochet. This blanket is the product of her efforts, made using remnants of wool. Linda loved this blanket because of its energy and jewel-like colours—it reminded her of the millefiori glasswork found in Venice. Alinah especially liked this piece because it is made from remnants and she was very impressed with Heather’s transfer of skills from knitting to crochet which had clearly worked beautifully. Alinah thought this work a testament to the value of creativity in difficult times. Oliver was taken with the time, care and attention that has been poured into this stunning blanket and felt sure it would be loved by the winning bidder very much!

Best Team/ Family Effort: Nina Plumer & ‘Team Plumer’ for ‘Merry-Go-Round quilt’

This wonderful quilt was made by members of a group comprised of seven friends who completed a City and Guild patchwork course together. The judges all adored this piece. Alinah thought it beautifully executed and also really loved the clear community spirit and focus that comes through the work. Likewise, Oliver said the quilt had really drawn a community of people together with all the stories and connections made with it reflected in the beauty of its design. Linda also praised the quilt’s striking design noting that although it is a traditional craft, this work has a very modern feel—she particularly liked the contrast of light and dark and use of lovely colours. Keep up the incredible work and community spirit ‘Team Plumer’!

Of course, with so many incredible pieces made and donated for such an important local cause, quite simply everyone who has taken part in this challenge is a winner! The HOMELINK team would therefore like to say a huge ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who has taken part and helped ‘make’ a real difference to families in our community facing homelessness.