I feel as though I’ve been caught in a time warp, it doesn’t seem possible that just a week ago I was setting off across the country, full of nerves and excitement, my poor old car packed to the roof with work and stand props. The British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate has been a background preoccupation and worry for the past 2 years (ever since I had to postpone taking part due to the house trauma) and it seems unreal that it’s now over and actually the real work is only just beginning. I imagine I’m feeling a little bit like a couple returning from their expensive wedding and honeymoon; so much planning and heaps of money just for one special event but it’s what happens next that really matters. I had a fantastic time pretending to be Agatha Christie in the Old Swan but it feels so good to be back on the mountain after an emotional return to North Yorkshire. We are a little behind with the seasons, Hawthorne and Sycamore buds are still only just emerging, Daffodils are at their Wordsworthian peak with Bluebell spears poised to take their place. It all has the air of something about to burst… a little sunny nudge and the whole thing will be freewheeling towards summer abundance.
There is so much I want to say about the experience of BCTF, I haven’t yet worked out exactly how much it cost but I will let you know in a future post because I think might be really useful if anyone was thinking of doing a trade show. I really wish I had done it sooner… within a year or two of graduating, mostly because it has been a really useful lesson in planning, pricing, logistics and PR. It was a massive relief that the calico panels fitted the space (after a tiny adjustment to the wooden rods with a borrowed hacksaw) and everything looked almost as I had imagined it. I was envious of some of the more minimalist stands, they looked so slick and professional but overall I was very happy and relieved. It took 3 hours to set up and one to break it all down again!
My glamorous and wonderful assistant Sara was totally invaluable. I really couldn’t have done it without her (partly because my hips kept seizing up so I could hardly move after 7 hours of standing with a clip board). Sara kept me straight when I drifted in to typical artist “down talk”, reminding me that the work was was unique and perfectionist not experimental and “hit and miss”; she also correctly predicted the winner of the “Wow Factor” award, another CCAD graduate Joanna Coupland .We met so many interesting people and agreed that being a buyer or a trend forecaster must be a great job.
The list of artists and makers that we met and whose work we fell in love with is too long to mention, I’ll list a few at the end, but the whole event reinforced my passionate belief that the skills and talents of these people should be celebrated and nurtured. Many artists and makers rely on the sale of cards for example, while they wait for the bigger pieces to sell, galleries too, which is why the Just a Card campaign is such a good idea. We don’t need a world full of mass produced cheap crap, we need fewer but more beautifully made things and an education system that values the arts and the contribution art and craft makes to society.
The wall I was most pleased with was my card wall with embroidered details and a quote from Haruki Murakami. I love receiving real handwritten letters (nice ones not upsetting ones) and it seems that the greetings card is not dead; people still spend money on lovely cards to keep or send. I was hoping the show would push me in one direction or another but in the end there was interest in ALL the products from original framed pieces to mugs and velvet cushions so after this I’m off to continue following up the contacts I made, evaluating all the feedback and making a start on some new cyanotypes and drawings.
Thank you so much to everyone who visited the stand or sent good wishes from afar. It’s been wonderful to meet so many people and talk non stop for 4 days – a complete contrast to where I sit now, listening to the buzzards circling above the valley… and an owl just then… oh and the sun is just breaking through.
Some of my my lovely stand neighbours :
Melissa Yarlett– gorgeous jewellery inspired by mosses and lichens Stephanie Hopkins – copper bowls and jewellery ( award winner at the show) Holly Argyll – Bright, quirky illustrations on textiles and giftware Katie Edwards – Fellow member of Cumbria Printmakers