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Archive for August, 2009

ADMIRATION

Some days (all of them this week) leave me in total admiration for Bizfizz clients. They are an incredibly resourceful bunch and are working so hard at making their ideas and skills work for them.

Take Martin; in spite of a disability, produces inspiring and beautiful ironwork in a small forge he has built at the bottom of his garden. He has very realistic expectations of what this will bring him, and his real dream is to be able to sell just enough that he can generate a small weekly income in order that he can come off his benefits. I will be working with him to help find the outlets for his work, (he can make to order too if you’re interested). If you can can help with any suggestions for where he might sell his work, do contact me, this man really deserves a break!

Another client, a young woman who is a Architectural Conservation consultant, has moved to Stoke to be with her partner and is currently seeking work (either as a consultant or in paid employment). This woman has followed every lead imaginable and has been very thorough in her work search even offering her services in a work experience capacity in order to broaden her knowledge.

We hear so much about people who make no effort to find employment (either paid or self-employment) and yet, my experience is that there are some incredibly talented, hard working people out there who stop at little to realise their dreams and for me, it leaves me in total admiration for them, and their efforts.

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I’ve been on a bit of a mission recently (the bit that involves stopping suddenly when I see a possible outlet!) to find new galleries for the artists I’m involved with so that they can sell more work. Since I have had this direct involvement in helping people to establish themselves and actually earn a living through what they do, it has raised many interesting questions about art, the public and selling in general. (Note: I use the word Art to encompass painting, ceramics, photography,textiles, metalwork and sculpture)

Many artists are totally phased by ‘selling’, they have little time, some don’t have good, reliable transport and many just don’t have a clue where to start. After all – it isn’t what they do, Art is what they do. There are a few around Burslem at the moment who are on the brink of potential National/International recognition, their work is breathtaking, and yet, they are still relatively unknown outside the local area.

They could of course just  get an agent, and whilst I have nothing against agents in particular, their commissions often leave the artists with little more than if they sold their work locally, and can sometimes restrict the artists through very limiting contracts. I know that agents ‘open doors’ and to some extent that is their worth, to obtain the links and connections that enable the artists to be seen in a much wider market and that’s good.

This all leaves me pondering about whether there might just be a better way.

I’m sure we’ve all noticed that, with the current trends in interior design that many ordinary folks are buying ‘art’ for their homes. The latest trend; those individual flowers on canvas. Interestingly, the large stores, Next, M&S, BHS, John Lewis and others, have been selling ever increasing amounts of this stuff, even Wilkinsons sell it! I wonder if the public are aware that they could have something original for very little more than these mass produced prints.

However, not so good are some of the new outlets I’ve spotted around the country selling (mass produced)  so-called original art, much of this is painted by children (verified by contacts overseas) and little of it carries the FairTrade marks, so I dread to think what they’re being paid and what conditions they work in. Within these outlets there is a heady smell of oil paint, because the paint is still wet! Such is the speed it’s painted, packed and shipped. Interestingly these places don’t call themselves galleries, but they are selling. This should give us a strong message about people, they will buy ‘original work’ if it’s marketed to them in a more user friendly way.

Maybe the public have a problem with places that call themselves ‘galleries’; Places that are perceived as quiet, accessed mostly by particular socio-economic groups, and seen as places where you look at art that only a few can afford to buy. They’re certainly not perceived as friendly, welcoming places.

Whilst I would never endorse the ‘dumbing down’ of anything, including art; art is a universal language that can be appreciated by anyone; art is about life, and those artists who connect with life and their communities in a meaningful way (the Burslem artists are exemplary in this), art becomes a part of the communities life too.

Many of the new galleries opened and run by artists themselves are not perceived as inaccessible to regular folk, but certainly some of the older, more established ones are and yet behind these there are fabulously talented people who are earning very little unless they’re really lucky. Maybe, as it does appear art is going through a bit of a rennaissance at present, it’s time for a new way of selling it and maybe artists need to connect with their buyers  in a different way too.

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DANCE, MUSIC

A very enterprising young woman, Michelle, who teaches Street Dance has established her school, EVO DANCE in Birch Terrace, Hanley in the deconsecrated Synagogue. Her studios are really lovely; light, bright and having that very rare commodity around Stoke on Trent, parking outside!

Michelle is seeking people who would like to hire her studio out to other groups, and from my visit, it would seem that they are appropriate for all manner of activities. Given that it’s in a really central location, it’s ideal for people to drop off and pick up, and especially useful for bands, they wouldn’t have to haul their instruments and equipment anywhere. As a rehersal space it’s very versatile, there’s a  pleasant reception/waiting area and a second studio too.

If you know of anyone looking to establish dance classes, workshops or rehersal space, please contact me and I will give you Michelle’s details.

AND FOOTBALL…

Two professional footballers I’m working with, Robin and Shane, are developing a project which will use football as a core attraction to work with young people who have learning and behavioural issues within schools. The youngsters will be taken out, encouraged to develop their skills, train and learn about being part of a team, discover why discipline is important, and the learning will extend to developing knowledge about their overall health and well-being and why that’s so important. A small pilot ran at a local primary school recently and the feedback was excellent, the children involved got a great deal from it in lots of different ways, their comments are being posted onto the website which is in development and I’ll post a link as soon as it’s up and running.

Robin and Shane are two remarkable young men, they recognise how football has changed their lives, what it has given them, and not just in terms of a career, but in developing life skills they so easily may not have gained otherwise. Their backgrounds are really no different to those they are seeking to help, they understand how it may all have been so different; it was through football that they got their opportunities to develop and grow and they’re passionate about giving something back. They have a lot of understanding of the issues that face many youngsters today and feel that, through the project, they can foster sound values and learning through something in which they have professional experience.

If you are connected with a school or a group of youngsters who might benefit from Robin and Shanes project do get in touch.

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Bizfizz clients are a very busy bunch of people, there always seems to be something new and exciting going on and this month is no exception.

One of the latest new businesses is VARSITY RADIO, a student to student online radio station which will be ‘live’ in a couple of months time. Varsity will air music, comment, news and activities, not just locally but nationally, tapping into the latest trends and activities for students everywhere. Varisty is making its base in Burslem, Market Square to be precise, taking the upper floor of a beautiful old building. I will post the link to their website as soon as it’s up and running, (two more Bizfizz clients are helping with that).

If you are interested in collaborating in any way with Varsity, just leave details on this site and they will be forwarded to them directly.

I went to see another client last week that I’ve been working with for a while, this client has an ebay shop (Afuro Hair and Beauty) selling cosmetics for women of colour and also wigs. It was  a range of the wigs I was particularly fascinated by; they’re amazing, way beyond what I imagined. They have a special net base, really fine, and they can be ‘glued’ to your skin. This might sound offputing, but in reality it’s quite simple, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t someone’s own hair. If anyone had problems with hair loss, or were unfortunate enough to have lost their hair following chemotherapy, these might just restore some confidence for people, they certainly are not ‘wig like’.

Back in Burslem, the ever enterprising Glazed Art at The Old Post Office, have a catalogue of events throughout the rest of the year.  Have a look at this;

Friday 7th August 7pm until 9pm BRIDES OF COMEDY. Two great new female comedians and a Pea and Pie supper from Pie Minister.

Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August 10am until 4pm LISE MOORCROFT and KEVIN MILLWARD, two of our best local ceramicists. Meet them and ask questions.

Friday 9th October 7pm until 9pm RACHEL RIMMER, amazing modern jazz singer plus supper from Pie Minister.

Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October 10am until 4pm ALAN CLARKE, SARAH MYATT & UGLY FISH.

Friday 11th December 7pm until 9pm CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, includes a Christmas gift for each visitor. Supper from Pie Minister.

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th December 10am until 4pm LISE MOORCROFT, ALAN CLARKE, SARAH MYATT AND KEVIN MILLWARD

AND, if all that isn’t enough, coming soon – BURLESQUE EVENINGS ceramics are certainly not dull around here!

www.theoldpostofficestudios.co.uk

There are, within Burslem, numerous collaborations going on. The very talented artists under the banner ‘Burslem Arts’, have created a refreshed and exciting gallery in Queen Street. Every month they have a Featured Artist, this month it is Sue Law Webb with her dynamic and diverse art work. This little gallery is staffed entirely by volunteers who do a fantastic job, many of them are also artists, ceramicists, and makers of high quailty craftware and pottery. Do support their work by visiting the shop (and preferably buying something), there is such a variety of work and the ever changing displays means it is regularly being refreshed.

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit a recent exhibition by the hugely talented Rob Pointon, in London. Rob is based in Burslem and has become a well known artist here, often to be found with his easel around Stoke on Trent. Rob has created some of the finest work seen here in recent years and it doesn’t stop at that, together with talented animator Karen Sayle and her BIGredStudio they have created animated paintings and amazing work that is truly worth seeing.

Check out; www.robpointon.co.uk

For the animated paintings; http://blurbonline.ning.com/video/train-track

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