Micklems Farm is a creative haven just outside Henley, offering workshops in its barn studio, as well as flowers from the beautiful cutting garden. Here, the founders tell us how they have grown the space into a flourishing business.
Tell us about your background.
We are Chris and Rosemary Harper and we met at Art College in the 70s and are Graphic Designers. We set up our design business, the Harper Partnership in 1984 (the year we got married!)
How did Micklems begin?
15 years ago, we had an empty barn space and started hosting informal workshops for friends, inviting artists to teach topics including painting and silver jewellery making. These were so popular that four years ago, we decided to offer workshops to a wider audience, initially inviting artists we knew to teach here. As we grew, we found that tutors were approaching us to teach, and it has been wonderful to meet so many talented artists and to view their portfolios.
Where do you find inspiration and ideas for courses/events?
We aim to offer an extensive range of both painting and craft workshops to reach as wide an audience as possible. Most of the workshops we select are often ones we would like to do ourselves! We offer workshops as beginner, intermediate and advanced levels to suit all abilities.
Four years ago we also started up our cut flower business selling bouquets to local flower lovers. This side of the business has expanded into serving tea and cake to people when they pick up their flowers, creating arrangements for weddings and events, buckets of flowers for DIY weddings and hosting various floral demonstrations. We are thrilled to have recently been given a silver award for our flowers and bouquets at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show.
Printing and jewellery making courses
Describe your typical working day
A typical working day starts with getting the studio ready (we currently run about 4 or 5 workshops a week) this involves setting up the coffee machine, switching on the scented diffuser and selecting some relaxing music. We like to meet all the students as they arrive, with time to chat while they have a coffee and settle in for the day’s workshop.
We then catch up with admin, confirming bookings, answering students' questions about workshops, updating the website, posting on social media and various marketing activities. We take photos of each workshop which we use for promotional purposes. The garden keeps us constantly busy with both perennial and annual beds to tend, seeds to sow, flowers to pick and bouquets to make up.
What has been the biggest highlight and biggest challenge to date?
The highlights are continuous - seeing people enjoying themselves when they come here and reading their feedback forms. Making lots of new friends, both students and tutors. The biggest challenge has been Covid.
Flowers in the garden
Best nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
We always like to make visitors feel welcome and at ease when they come here, finding common ground in conversation is always a good starting point.
What’s coming up next at the Farm?
Up until now, we have focused on workshops, but from September we are launching weekly art classes from tutor Caroline Crawford, who will be teaching two ten-week courses starting September 26th: one for beginners and one for intermediate students. These will include drawing and painting, using a range of media from pastels and acrylics to gouache and watercolour.
Collage workshop with Caroline Crawford
Where can we find out more?
We can be found at