Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Chapter 11 The Grahamstown Festival, June 1996

It was June, 1996. The Festival was happening in a week. We had managed to find accommodation up on the hill in Grahamstown, overlooking Graham High School. My mother and her 80 year old husband were joining us for the week to help with babysitting the 2 boys.
I was in a state of high anxiety. I had sent all my sketches and unframed works by courier  and they hadn't arrived.
I was due to set up my exhibition in Victoria classroom the next day and I had very little stuff to put on the walls.
I went ahead anyway, arranging my framed paintings around the walls in the classroom on the ground floor. Next door to me another artist was setting up her work. I went over and introduced myself to her. Her name was Judy Bumstead and she had come all the way from Calitzdorp. Her work was very interesting- her framing was unusual- she had used bits and pieces of corrugated iron and wood in a very creative way. She seemed very nice. I was glad of the company next door as the venue itself was very quiet and out of the way of the real buzz of the Festival.
Having my parents around was sometimes more stressful than not as we still had to arrange meals and cook. Luckily my husband helped a lot and was very supportive, even taking a few stints in the classroom to give me a break.
My unframed prints and sketches eventually arrived the next day and we put them round the walls as best we could. The lighting in the classroom was terrible though and some of the paintings were not shown to their best.
It was difficult to keep cheerful and upbeat during those long lonely hours in the classroom. I had very few visitors. One guy came racing in, said "Is this the Art?" looked around for about 5 seconds and then disappeared. It was quite funny really how this was happening a lot. People who didn't know a thing about art but were told by their mothers or wives or whatever to go and "look at the Art"!
I sat at the cold classroom desk trying to keep positive. On the third day I had a visit from and old varsity friend who very kindly bought one of my larger canvases for his wife. I am eternally indebted to you, Mike!
Some other friends bought one or 2 paintings and I had some positive feedback from a teacher in a township who wanted all her pupils to come and be inspired by my work- "You have shown that anyone can be an artist" she said. Er,,, yes,,,,,well....that could be taken any way, couldn't it.
The days seemed to drag by and most of the time it was excruciatingly boring. I wished I had set up my easel and I could at least paint away the day.
A good thing that happened though was that I won 2nd prize in the best poster award. That R500 at least went some way to paying for my expenses.
By the end of the week I came out even. My sales had paid for our accommodation and the hire of the classroom.
It wasn't the most successful event, but at least I had proved something to myself. I was brave enough to "put myself out there"- I took a risk that all artists have to take at some point- expose themselves to the market and see if their stuff is popular.

go to next chapter
Previous Chapter

No comments:

Subscribe Now: text