Monday, March 19, 2012

Open Fair (...and a little rant)

About 2 weeks ago, I took part in Open Fair, held in the Carlton Hotel in Tralee. I had decided after Christmas, I was going to take a break from doing craft fairs, but Open Fair was different, it was not just a craft fair, but a skills fair, hosted by Rural Resettlement Programme. A programme dedicated to bringing life back into rural areas of Ireland. To use its own blurb its "national movement of free, community-based talent exchanges. The aim is to help you to make a living from your own skills, ideas and initiative. Every enterprise starts with one person. With the Open Fair, you can be that person."

I think this is a fantastic idea, and development away from traditional fairs which can be fairly repetitive. It was great to have a mix of business from craft to websites, PR to publishing. If nothing else, it was about setting up a community. So, I did what I seem to do best at craft fairs, made very little money, but meet up with lots of lovely people. But I went with that intention, not so much to sell stuff, as to sell my crafting soul. (I think I will just declare myself a 'not for profit company', since I am so crap at making a profit)

I've been stuck, the past few months, about where I am going, with my work, my time, and the effort its costs me sometimes to keep going, to keep crafting. It’s not a rut, more like moral dilemma. It is very disheartening to constantly be asked to work for little or nothing in my own area, and then not be asked to work in other places, because I am too far away. (But, thats what I get for living on the edge of the known European universe. It’s probably why I have become a geek, more of a virtual crafter. ). Yet I see 'outside' artists and designers brought in and paid well, to do the same work I know half a dozen locals could do. Having a well known name does not actually mean the work is better. I think committee members need to be told this..bluntly.

As a friend of mine repeatedly tells me I need to become a 'me feiner', I need to be more about me. But it’s something I don’t believe in. I just don’t have the ego or patience for it. I think for too long the egos have ruled the art/craft system, and it should be just about the work that needs doing. Even within a rural community there is always an inner circle, and I don’t believe in that either and I won’t be part in it. It's probably my undoing, but the older I get, the more I feel I have to live by my principles. An artist is no more valuable to society than a carpenter, a plumber, a gardener, etc, we all have our role and our place to form a functioning society, and the barriers and egos have to go.

Rant over, I don't mean to complain, but lately I've just seen too much money wasted, budgets blown, because of this system. And it really, really bugs me, I am prepared to get myself blacklisted by the powers that be, if it means sticking to my moral guns. I just want to make stuff! Its that simple, but sometimes its easy to forget its that simple.

If there is an Open Fair going on near you, take a stand, visit it, chat to people. It is fantastic to see so many people trying to create businesses, create a living, from doing what they love best, in these crazy financal times. As the expression goes, best foot forward....

Because I only decided to do the fair at the last minute, my usual unorganised self, I didn't have time or energy to do leaflets/flyers etc. So, I had to come up with a different advertising strategy. I have forever been meaning to do up a proper portfolio/photo album of work, and well, still haven't gotten round to it. So this is what I did instead...

Combined geekery with recycling! I made a slideshow of my work and past projects on the laptop, and made a tv to go over it. As well as showing images of my work I peppered it with other images, not so subtle 'me feiner' ads, and some craftivist propaganda, that hopefully, got into some peoples heads...

The TV now doubles as a puppet theatre for the bored child. Muti-purpose recycling! 

1 comment:

Michelle said...

LOVe this post Orlam purely because I feel exactly the same!! I'm emailing you about something x