A unique Shaftesbury souvenir has gone on sale again, over a decade after supplies last sold out. Sue Clifford, of Shaftesbury’s Tree Group, tells Alfred why she has arranged a reprint of a bag featuring our iconic landmark hill.
The Gold Hill bag was born out of a project undertaken by the Shaftesbury-based conservation and environmental charity Common Ground, which Sue Clifford and fellow campaigner Angela King founded. The women had been disappointed to discover that many British destinations were selling gifts to tourists that bore images of UK landmarks or towns, but were actually plastic goods imported from China.
Sue says that Common Ground was determined to ‘identify unique, truly local and representative gifts’ from Shaftesbury. “We did some work on souvenirs and how important it is that souvenirs really are expressing the place,” Sue said.
Common Ground decided to produce a cotton bag to discourage the use of single use plastic carrier bags, which was a big issue at the time. John Hinchliffe was a local artist, who with his wife Wendy Barber, produced ceramic homeware for John Lewis and Next. The women asked John to create the bag’s design.
“John has, unfortunately, died. But he did this wonderful print for us of Gold Hill. The hill expresses what Shaftesbury is and it is terribly important to us. That framed view is very beautiful. There are very few places in the world that hold your attention in this way,” said Sue. “He did this lovely simple, black design and we had it printed onto a cotton bag. We have often thought that there is nothing that shows Shaftesbury, that somebody can take home and carry around.”
Sue hopes that this image of our iconic hill, clearly labelled as ‘Shaftesbury, Dorset’ will generate interest in our town when people see it. “The place needs something like this to keep on saying ‘we are here’,” said Sue, who added that the new bag has been improved. “We wanted to do it even better this time. We would use the same design because people like it and we wanted organic, fair traded cotton and also water-based ink.”
Sue wants to offer the bag for sale to a select number of outlets. Although Gold Hill Museum will soon close for the winter, the bags will be available in their shop from Easter, priced at £8. They are also on sale at the plastic-free shop ‘Coconut and Cotton’.
“We have produced 500 as a starter and will see how they go,” said Sue, And she says that if they sell out again, more can be produced. Wendy Barber has kindly given Sue and Angela John’s pattern. It might be familiar to anyone who has picked up the Tree Walk leaflet – the same design is on the front.
“We didn’t do hugely well out of them. That wasn’t the point.” Sue said, adding that many were given away last time. “If we make any more out of this, the money will go to the Tree Group or to do something that will happen in town. I just ventured some money to get it going,” Sue said.