In times where high-street chains seem to dominate every town and city, it’s a real pleasure to find an independent boutique that focuses on the traditional craftsmanship of local suppliers and artists. Coastal Creatives in Bournemouth do exactly that; open in 2007, owners Louise and Rachael offer a little taste of the seaside in their beautifully unique boutique on Southbourne Grove.
I step into the shop and the first thing to strike me is the gallery-style layout, and that the place I wrongly perceived to be a type of beachy homeware and gift shop now looks remarkably more interesting. Everything in sight looks unique and exciting, every little corner of the shop is filled with something unusual and appealing. It’s then that I realise Coastal Creatives is more than a shop, it’s an art gallery.
By the window is a Christmas tree. It’s not the traditional green Christmas tree with hanging baubles and sparkly tinsel; it’s a tree made from beautiful, well-placed pearlescent seashells glistening under studio lights. Next to it are an assortment of familiar landscape scenes hanging on the walls, as well as natural wooden frames and unique lamps made from pebbles. The whole place is an eclectic mix of assorted items, all strung together by one common theme – the seaside.
There are quirky, woven seagulls that bring a smile to my face, nautical-striped bunting, each triangle a different fabric and print, and personalised pictures of boats. The prices of these seem very reasonable to me, especially for things so unusual and of high quality. There are pieces that appeal to the more discerning tastes too of course and they do cost a little more, like the driftwood art by Norfolk artist Andy Povey, who uses graffiti paints and lacquer to create retro-style pieces. There are driftwood crafts galore in fact, like charming driftwood reindeer sculptures for £25 and unique clocks from £70. Or you can have your own personalised driftwood piece commissioned from £20. There are even pieces of jewellery, coastally related of course – there are mussel-shell pendants made from sterling silver, and handcrafted cufflinks in the shape of seashells.
As I catch a glimpse of a few retro prints on the wall, Louise informs me of their originality, “they’ve been printed by hand the old-fashioned way.”
She continues, “a lot of the things in here are created by local artists, adopting traditional techniques to produce either one off pieces or limited editions, like those prints. You’re not going to find anyone else with the exact same one as you.” And as I glide around the place in full shopping mode, I fight the urge to purchase anything and remind myself I’m here to review.
The appeal of a place like this is that everything has been lovingly selected, and the whole place is a collection of handpicked items chosen for their artistic depiction of the great British seaside. Everything’s got a story to tell, and everything’s got a history, and as I walk around the interesting collection of items I suddenly feel proud to be British and I’m reminded how privileged we are to live beside the beautiful sea.