October 12th, 2014 – The C Word

“Since change is inevitable, we should direct the change
rather than simply continue to go through the change…” – Gil Scott-Heron


So, we’re crashing towards the ‘festive’ season. Usual procedure?

First, we start seeing images like this.

buy handmade


What’s next? You know what….

The C word. Craft shows. I hate ‘craft’ shows. They make me weep. Now until Christmas, there will be loads of them, every weekend, and your artist friends will be making desperate pleas to ‘pop down and see me’ if you are in town.

I have tried over many years to describe the issues of quality craft over slick (or not so slick) mass production, and the shows a maker of today has the option to participate in. 

These mostly sell hobby work and low-value work. Low-end prices for low-end objects.
Nothing of real value is made in 2 minutes. And that’s how the public view it. Hobby.

As a maker, you should spend the same hours making one awesome product. And it will take you all day, or two days or even a week or a month of labor, skill, and consideration.  So it’s not going to be a £1 felt badge or a £5 print. And that’s the point.

When people walk into a Craft Fair they make immediate judgments. About art, about value, about what they want on their walls and in the home.
A show must aim for a certain level of quality. Sadly there is no shortage of hobby makers who clamor to take a table at such events as the quality makers fall away unable to sustain another wasted weekend, or buckle and focus on the low end which invariably becomes the whole focus.

We need a society where artists/craftsmen can make a full-time living in.

We will have that when work sells – and work will only sell when the public values it.

If ‘value’ – cultural worth – is established people will embrace the worth of art and gladly spend money on it.  We need a cultural shift. We need a new approach and sustainability.

Because right now as far as ‘art’ and especially ‘craft’ goes we are, as a mass, totally culturally inept and valueless. Contented with the high street, mass-produced, low quality, high price, branded tat.

Yet outside of the village halls and the dirty tables of craft, where the real art is, established galleries only involve a small clientele of artist ‘names’ to display and people to buy (investments). Everyone else outside of this clique has been conditioned into a total disengagement with art.

I agree, many younger people don’t go to traditional galleries but look for work online. I appreciate the concept of prints which allows someone previously unable to afford an original, the opportunity to have a art piece. It’s a Good Thing.

But on the other hand, we have, in the pursuit of a cheaper price, cheaper paper, mass production, and cheaper frames…
What are we? Ikea?

The land of Society6, artfinder etc etc hundreds of them.  Some say it’s better than nothing. It isn’t. It will saturate and implode, leaving us even worse off.
If you are making cash on these… great – you need to eat. But we have got to foster an alternative.
We need to actually sort out the reasons behind why the high st is packed and no one, as I found out this afternoon, notices the art in a cafe for 4 yrs.

Which prompted writing this. 4yrs. And then I walk through town seeing total consumption.

The machine does not want art. What power do we have to fight it?
What we have as a collective, is mass power. That is where our power lies.
The collective.

We need to create artist unity, and foster the perception of a scene, a myth that can be seen.

Because when people arrive at a party that seems really cool they have, maybe no idea, or maybe a preconceived assumption… but they walk away now not with a perception, but with a reality.

Let’s make the party seen and plant the seeds of that reality that will grow.

Peter Gillies, 8th October, 2014
If you are an artist you can join the revolution on one of these groups.

Glasgow Independent Artists
The same group in Edinburgh / Dundee / Aberdeen / Highland & Islands / Ayrshire / Dumfrice & Galloway
A group for (wherever you are) Artists at various career levels who want to participate in exhibitions, organize events, share ideas and generally make things happen.
This is NOT for sharing your work so please don’t it will just get deleted.

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