I made mugs, cups, bowls, teapots, and jugs.
|A new teapot that I am rather excited about!|
|Note the pretend screws that appear to hold the teapot together!|
I also wrote and printed a handout about our work, and about the Old Post Office where we have our studio.
Prior to the Event, I had no idea how many to print, and hoped that 100 or so would be enough and took a stack of our business cards, just in case.
On Friday I unpacked the final glaze firing from the kiln, smoothed feet of cups and jugs, and then spent the day loading the van with the kick wheel, clay, ware boards, tables, buckets, tools, and boxes full of pottery. Laura worked up at the local shop for two thirds of the day, then joined me with packing. We were finished loading about 7 in the evening, then drove 137km (84 miles) to Lawrence. We were very tired, but the drive was a pleasant one, the last half hour or so is very pretty as the road winds its way through narrow tree lined valleys between steep sided hills.
Our friend James, who appeared three years ago in this blog, kindly let us use his flat for the weekend. The flat was a Godsend, as it made a safe haven to retire to at the end of each day after working in very hot conditions.
We got up early on Saturday and were on the street to set up our stall at about 8.15 in the morning.
|The Main Street of Lawrence first thing on Saturday morning.|
The day was already warm, and temperatures climbed to what may have been above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F).
We had been provided with a large tent that had been put up in a vacant area of land beside the old town hall. It was a good position, and the tent was roomy enough to put out two trestle tables end-to-end for the pottery to be displayed on, and for there to be a separate "messy" area for potter's wheel and tables for working with clay. In the hall next to our tent, Laura had some paintings on display.
Laura set out the pottery on the tables whilst I got the wheel organised and prepared clay for the day.
There was a hat competition, and exhibitors were encouraged to wear something colourful. Laura made a hat for herself that looked rather splendid, and a little like Dutch traditional costume.
By the time that ten o'clock came around, the official opening time of the Festival, I was flowing with perspiration, it was uncomfortably hot, especially as I was having to wedge clay. In fact, I was so hot and tired by that stage that I could not prepare clay for the full day, but had to do more preparation at intervals right through.
As the hours slipped past, we began to realise that things were not going that well. There did not seem to be many people visiting the festival. By afternoon those that did come in the tent were complaining of heat, and were lethargic. Some people coming into the tent, were just coming to get in the shade. A large group of women, who may have been part of a family reunion, came in and just talked together about Cousin Ethel's hip replacement, and other such juicy gossip, and kept their backs to the display the whole time. I demonstrated on the wheel all day, and Laura looked after the display of pottery. In theory people could have had a go at pottery, but I think there would have been little interest on the Saturday, as it was simply too hot. So, I talked and potted, and tried to be cheerful, and Laura talked and tried to sell pots.
By the end of the day sales consisted of one goblet and one small bowl, total value NZ $53, and we were completely exhausted and dehydrated in spite of consuming 3 litres of water between the two of us. As there was no security at night we had to pack up the stuff that we had in the tent. We were able to put the wheel and tables in the hall, which made packing up much easier, and the pottery went back in boxes in the van. It was still a long job.
So that was day one. People said that Saturday was too hot for people to turn out to the Festival, that Sunday would be better, the festival usually went better on the Sunday.
We were back on the street early on Sunday morning and set up whilst the day was still relatively cool. This time I made sure that I did my clay preparation a bit earlier in the day, so that conditions were more bearable, and I could try to get more clay in reserve. I decided to work at the wheel only when there were people around, and make the most of little rests, as I had really worked far too hard on the Saturday.
Sunday did get hot again, but not to the dizzy heights of the day before, and a light breeze blowing through the tent made things quite pleasant. In the morning I took the camera with me for half an hour, and walked around a couple of the events further down the street. One thing I enjoyed was a display that was set up in an empty shop building by the Balclutha Floral Arts Club.
There was a wedding cake made of pale yellow soap,
a party of people sitting round a table,
and various bicycles outside in a garden area that were decorated with flowers.
On my way back to our tent, I stopped to listen to the spirited and enthusiastic singing by a group of young men from Vanuatu.
They had incredibly high voices, and accompanied their singing with guitar, ukulele, and a tea chest base.
Sunday had enjoyable moments. I particularly appreciated a visit by an elderly man called John, who said that he had come specially to see me at the wheel. John had been a keen amateur potter, and still did some. He filmed me working and enjoyed talking potting. Two teenage girls from Melbourn Australia had a go at making a bowl each on the potter's wheel, and they were both charming and did very well. Late in the day two young children watched me work whilst their parents went to have a drink of something cool at the nearby pub, and I enjoyed their company and their enjoyment of watching clay turn into a bowl on the wheel.
On Sunday morning the nice people that owned the old town hall next to the tent bought a small jug from me, and in the afternoon a friend bought 3 cups... Those were Sunday's total sales. Sunday was actually much quieter, with less people in attendance, than the horribly hot Saturday. Some stall holders actually abandoned the Festival early and went home.
Packing up took a very long time, and we finally drove away from our site just after 6.30 in the evening, with the van almost as full as when we packed it on Friday.
As I was a demonstrator, the organisers of the Festival paid my petrol expenses, which was greatly appreciated, as were the sales that we did have. We were also very, very fortunate that James looked after our accommodation so splendidly. In all honesty though, I have been rather sad over the last couple of days. We are running low on money, sales are patchy and not as frequent as they need to be, and I had hoped that attending the Festival may have helped our situation. The Lawrence Arts Festival was one of the few big events in our part of the country, so for us to fail so badly in a business sense at a "big event" was very sobering.
I realize that some others that took part as stall holders, or were involved in the organising of the event, will very probably be feeling "battered and bruised" emotionally too. I do feel sorry for them. I think everyone put in a huge amount of effort to make the event a successful one.
This was the first Lawrence Arts Festival that we had attended, so we cannot compare what happened this time with previous years, but those people that I did talk to that had been in the past were convinced that "numbers were well down". I am also not in a position to judge as to why things did not go as well as expected, I am sure that everyone did their best.
On Saturday, 2 February, we will be attending the Palmerston A & P Show. We had a stall at the show last year, our sales were not great, but were worth the effort of attending for the day. Attending this show is also a way of advertising ourselves in our local area. Most of the locals have never visited our gallery, so it is good to bring it out to them, and some are quite surprised to see what we do in the Old Post Office building! I will demonstrate on the wheel for the day, and Laura will look after sales.
This year marks 130 years of A & P shows at Palmerston, and special celebrity guests will be the Topp Twins (who make country music and comedy).
|Image from the Topp Twins official site http://topptwins.com/|
See you at the show.... I hope!!