This weekend, a pop-up market bursting with the energy of Kashgar will take over the rooms of the beautiful Asia House in Marylebone.
Over 35 exhibitors, from China to Afghanistan, India to Turkey have been selected to represent the best in arts and crafts from across the pan-Asian region, offering jewellery, clothes, textiles, furniture, home ware and art; all unique, and all hand-crafted.
Of course, the fair is about shopping, but each stall also has a unique connection to Asia, and a unique story to tell. Shirdak Silk Road Textiles is one of these stalls. Created by Mariann Tuerlings, the products showcase the artistic beauty and extraordinary quality of the traditional felt and silk textiles of Central Asia's nomadic tribes. Marianne buys directly from the Krygystan women and every product is sold on a fair trade basis. There's no middle man, ensuring that the funds go directly to the craftswomen. In this way, ancient arts and craft traditions are preserved and the Kyrgyz women can earn a decent living from using their skills.
Asia House is a non-profit, non-political organisation that exists to build dynamic links with Asia, important now more than ever. By providing unique insights into culture, policy, business and education, Asia House promotes informed understanding and the mutual exchange of ideas between pan-Asia and the UK. It holds some fantastic events — the Pan-Asia Film Festival has just ended (which screened several UK premieres and welcomed directors and actors from across Asia), and the Festival of Asian Literature is later this month, which will feature such writers as Michael Palin, Mohsin Hamid and Tan Twan Eng.
The Fair is the perfect introduction to this hidden gem in Marylebone, as it's free to enter. Five minutes from Oxford Circus and Regent's Park, there's a beautiful Georgian tea-room attached and workshops happening throughout the weekend. An oasis tucked away from the clamour of the city, this is a relaxed alternative to shopping on Oxford Street, and a wonderful taste of Asia in London.
The Asia House Fair is on at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, this weekend, 12-14 April from 10am to 6pm Fri & Sat, and 11am-4pm Sunday. Free entry to all, no booking needed. For more information, visit: http://www.asiahouse.org/