Dream ~ Create ~ Inspire

The question is often asked of me: “Why do you sell at markets when your online store is doing so well?” The simple answer to that is; “Contact with people, both the customers and fellow market stall holders!”

Working for yourself from home can mean many hours spent in solitude, while it’s lovely having conversations with customers from all around the world through my online store those conversations do not include body language, facial expressions and other people joining in the conversation. I choose to work from home not because I don’t like being around other people, my decision to work from home has been based on so many reasons, some financial, some practical and although it may seem idyllic to some, spending all that time alone and being completely in charge of your own time, the reality is that at times it can also be very lonely. Of course, I could just step outside my studio, grab a coffee down the street, venture into town and meander through our local boutiques, attend yoga classes and catch up with friends, all of which I  do. While these interactions are lovely they are often brief in the grand scheme of events over the course a week’s work and there is still the need to earn an income to contribute to our families needs… which requires actual work to take place. Trading at markets however, means that while we’re unloading the car, setting & packing up our stalls, in between engaging with customers during quiet periods, there is the opportunity talk to fellow stall holders (fellow artisan’s) and to get to know other people earning a living in similar way to me. Trading along side each other enables us to get to know each other on a deeper level, rather than if we were to simply visit markets as a shopper.  One such couple I have met and become friends with through trading at markets is Wendy Lees & Anthony Hoy trading as Vetro e Metallo. We have traded along side each other regularly at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston, ACT. Anyone who knows me in person will know I am a huge fan of their work and wear many of their pieces of jewellery daily.

Two special pieces of my Vetro E Metallo jewellery collection

Here are two very special custom made pieces from my Vetro e Metallo jewellery collection

Over the last few years, we’ve shared stories of what led us to trade at markets, the challenges we’ve faced being self employed, dealing also isolation, buying our own homes… etc. We’ve also discovered that our shared interests extend beyond trading at markets but also into a way of living, growing food, cooking, a love of animals, recycling materials not just for our work but our homes.

Recently we visited their new home, a magnificent old building in Braidwood which was originally a cordial factory and eventually became a mechanics workshop… their large block in the middle of the town also has two to very large sheds (now their workshops and storage space) and enough grounds to establish a garden and outdoor sanctuary. They had only been in their new home for three months when we visited and I was absolutely amazed at the transformation they had made to this building, and in such a short period of time. With the assistance of trades people they have taken this workshop and converted it into an amazing home. Stripping back the layers of oil built up on the timber floors, installing a kitchen, wood heater, bathroom and a collection of stunning copper light fittings, including one made by Anthony himself.  It should’t have÷ surprised me, their talents and skills demonstrated in their business should have been enough of an indication of their capabilities in anything that they would turn their heads, hearts and hands to. They are the perfect example of artisan living and what passion, drive and dedication can enable people to achieve.

Anthony & Wendy with Chugga

Anthony, Wendy & Chugga in their spectacular new home.

So even though some trading days at markets may be slow, there is always something to be gained from being there, such as the chance to build on the friendships developed with other market stall holders… these friendships are worth so much more than money. So when I say trading at markets is not all about making money, I really mean it. When you set your own career path and do not fit into any moulds, it can at times feel like you have three heads, so meeting other people who are just like you, but in their own individual way is so very comforting. Meeting people like Wendy and Anthony, witnessing their journey is extremely inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to seeing what their new home will evolve into as they add the additions they spoke so passionately about that day… in the mean time I will continue to take inspiration from what they already achieved through these few snap shots and I hope that they inspire you too! (pics below)

Vetro e Metallo have a stall at four different markets regularly, three of which they trade at each week, so be sure to check their website for market details.

Below is a quote I came across via Instagram, which seems rather fitting:

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dream ~ create ~ inspire

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

DSC_9533 Wendy Lee & Anthony Hoy Handcrafted by Anthony Hoy

All images in this post are by marie-nicole copyright 2015

Artist, Designer, Artisan… what’s the difference?

When I was doing my degree in Visual Arts and Design we had weekly studio sessions where we all visited everyone’s studio space to critique the progress of each individuals work. It was a great opportunity to get feedback & encouragement from peers & tutor or lecturer, but also served to sow seeds of doubt in my mind about whether or not I was in fact an artist. Up to that point in my life I had always thought of myself as an artist and planned to earn my living being one… even though I did not know exactly how I would achieve that. I loved to draw from a very young age, started to photograph with my father’s SLR as a preteen and dropped one subject in my HSC in order to do two lots of HSC art classes. Then suddenly in my early twenties I found myself surrounded by what I thought to be real artists, not just creative types but those types who are arty to the core.  That was when I began to question whether or not I actually had the right to call myself an artist. My peers often commented on how they thought of me as more of a designer than an artist. I loved my design classes and did very well in them, but I didn’t feel that I fitted that mould entirely either, especially since I took great pleasure in creating not just designing. This feeling of not belonging to any particular role was rather unsettling, but rather than giving up on the idea of earning my living as an artist I decided it would be better to create a path that suited my skills and abilities rather than trying to fit into moulds that really were not suited to me. This is what your youth should be about… getting to know who you are, then building on your strengths and abilities from there. By my mid 20’s I believed I knew who I was and what I was about, I was an artist who used photography as her medium!

Twenty years later, now a mother of two beautiful boys and a slight detour in my creative career to suit my situation… and that same question still hovers in the back of my mind… can I really call myself an artist?

I contribute some of my time as a volunteer in an organisation called YASSarts which was founded by the late Kim Nelson; an extremely talented artist (painter) along with another extremely talented artist (sculptor) Al Phemister. Kim was someone who saw all artistic forms as ‘art’ and it was his passion for connecting the arts, representing it as a whole that led me to volunteer my time to assist with promoting the arts in our region. He would notice the smallest detail of what I was wearing and comment, often asking if I made an item I was wearing. One day he asked about a my sandals, well actually he said: “Love your boots, did you make them?” The term boots threw me, but that did not stop from sharing with him the fact that I had not made that particular pair myself, but planned to learn to make sandals similar and described my vision for them (eventually I did, which you can read about here) his response to that was; “See you are an artist… that’s art!”

When he then asked me to exhibit with him and three other local artists, I did not feel like I should be exhibiting along side them, but agreed to it as I adored Kim and what he stood for, especially the fact that he believed whole heartedly in art being many forms.  Our exhibition consisted of three painters, a wooden toy & puzzle maker and me. For the month of September in 2014 we held our exhibition ‘An Odd Collection of Fellows’ in the Oddfellows’ Hall, Yass… formerly Kim’s gallery and public studio. It was a wonderful experience. One of the artists was also a body painter, and to cap off our exhibition we all got involved in a body painting… it had been years since I last picked up a brush to paint anything other than furniture.

An Odd Collection of Fellows

An Odd Collection of Fellows – September 2014  Kim Nelson (bottom left)

When people discover I am a member of the YASSarts Committee they often ask me; “Oh what kind of art do you do?” Which I usually follow up with: “Well I don’t actually think of myself as an artist…!” For some reason that seems to just roll off my tongue, all these years of paving my own creative path I still can’t seem to own the title artist. I’ve felt a lot more comfortable using titles like, photographer, artist & designer (together) and more recently ‘artisan’. Why artisan? The more thought I’ve put in to what I do and how that differs from being an ‘artist’ the more I’ve started to see that artist’s today are more often creators of work that evoke emotional responses or challenge the viewers thinking based on current issues or the artist’s individual feelings and/or experiences. Where as an artisan, I feel I create works that have a function, they can still evoke an emotional response… be it nostalgia when it comes to old woollen blankets; with the use of kangaroo leather the response is sometimes concern for the welfare of the animal, and even appreciation for the fact that the skins of these animals are not going to waste, others respond with intrigue having never experienced kangaroo leather before, creating a response of curiosity of it’s properties of being light weight yet strong. To my feather work, some people respond with; “oh those poor birds” while others say; “how fantastic that the whole bird is being used.” So I guess in that respect one could argue that my work is in fact art! All that said, I feel most comfortable sticking with the title of ‘artisan’.

Dictionary meanings….

Artist:  A person who creates paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby; A person who practices any of the creative arts such as a sculptor, film maker, actor, dancer; A person skilled at a particular task or occupation.

Artisan: A worker in a skilled trade, especially that involves making things by hand. Street makers where local artisans display hand-woven textiles, painted ceramics, and leather goods.

Designer: The person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans. 

In the end I believe we each need to find our own sense of purpose in whatever role that may be… knowing yourself, your skills and using them to contribute to your community both locally and globally is what really matters. Not so much the title itself, but of course it always helps to describe what you do in a short succinct straight to the point phrase… I am an artisan. Allowing questions to follow that start an interesting conversation and an opportunity to share your message, like; “I rescue and repurpose the old and discarded, transforming them into functional statement pieces.” You may not have the opportunity to say this by starting with the phrase; I don’t think of myself as…”

My Rescued and Repurposed Range

Rescued and Repurposed Range

So finding that title is important for your own self confidence, but more importantly is first finding your purpose. I feel like mine is encourage others to see value in resources that they may otherwise regard as waste.

We each have an important role to play in this world in our very own special way. Embrace who you are and thrive!

<<== by marie-nicole ==>>

xx

 

Ps. Sadly Kim Nelson passed away in August of this year leaving a huge hole in the hearts of many including mine…