Mill Road Winter Fair

Posted December 9th 2016

As December approaches, performers, artists, and traders in Cambridge prepare for the Mill Road Winter Fair. Now in its twelfth year, the event spreads over most of the one mile length of Mill Road in the heart of CB1. The fair attracts over 10,000 visitors and offers a wide range of performances, exhibits, activities, and refreshments, reflecting the diversity and culture of the local community.

For me, the Mill Road Winter Fair involves directing the art exhibition and showing my photographs. Coordinating a large group of artists and arranging a display space can sometimes be a test of nerves, especially when you are also trying to organise your own artwork. But any “never again” feelings soon fade as I see the artists arriving to set up – some regular exhibitors and others new to the show. There is a genuine feeling of warmth and community; a sense of togetherness. It is a chance to see each other’s latest work, hear everyone’s news, and exchange ideas.

As well as talking to other artists, I enjoy discussing my photography with some of the many art lovers who visit the exhibition. Most of my display this year was dedicated to images of Cambridge. Every one of those pictures has a backstory that I am keen to share with people who stop by. Sometimes they have stories of their own about the places in my photographs, and I always love to hear them.

This year I was also promoting my portrait photography. I had three portraits on display and a portfolio book available for browsing. It was good to hear people’s thoughts about these images, and to notice how the portraits drew more attention to the CB1 Photography stand. An exhibition like this presents a great opportunity to get direct feedback on my work, and to hear views and opinions that may inspire new ideas in the future.

My thanks go the artists who made this such a welcoming and interesting show, to the hundreds of visitors who came to see us, and to the wonderfully enthusiastic and accommodating Will Baker from Anglia Ruskin University, who looked after the exhibitors and venue so well.

If you like this article or have any comments, please leave a note for me using the form near the bottom of this page.

Wine Merchants

First sale of the day – “Wine Merchants”.

Bicycle Bell

“Bicycle Bell” – I sometimes ask exhibition visitors to try to identify the building in the reflection. It’s not King’s College, by the way. Earlier in the year, this photo was awarded second place in a Cambridge-themed competition run by the Photography Society at Queens’ College.

Hot Numbers Bicycle

“Hot Numbers Bicycle” – One of my best sellers that will soon be on show in an exhibition … at Hot Numbers café!


Some of the items that I used in my exhibition display.


New business cards!

6 thoughts on “Mill Road Winter Fair

  1. I love the bicycle bell and I think you’ve captured the magic of it’s voluptuous shape and reflective surface.

    1. Thank you, Jim. The original picture had more of the railings in the background on display. I decided to crop it down though, to better show the detail on the reflection and to create a curve across the frame with the handlebar. I think it works better cropped.

  2. Some marvellous images, Jim, which would, without a doubt, draw anybody in to sample the Mill Road Winter Fair. Let’s start at the wine merchant’s – in the words of the ‘Sound of Music’ song, ”a very good place to start”! This is such an inviting scenario and you are left feeling that the cycle owner has fully taken up the invitation and is happily occupied inside the store – and for some while too, as his bike has obviously been snowed on afresh since he went in! As a monochrome artist myself, I am particularly taken by the wonderful variety and mixture of dark shapes – top band of brickwork, shop name-board lettering, bottle glass, lower door panel, sign post, cycle tyres and lock and the streak of exposed curb in the foreground – that you have set within a pool of brightness. Similarly with the ”Hot Numbers” image. The brewery building here in particular looks amazing – fantastic black and white combinations on the bike too. Also, the angle of the shot gives a superb sense of perspective, which is really accentuated by the line of stakes protruding from the top of the wall. Wonderful sky backdrop in this image too. I love the cycle bell, particularly the contrast between the rather enigmatic twist of blacks and whites on the left-hand side – the reflected railings – and the much more clearly discernible, albeit fascinatingly distorted, urban scene on the right. Fabulous photos, Jim, well done!

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