Friday, 13 September 2013

On shows and auctions

Hi everyone!

No stitching progress showcase today, (although I have made some and the sampler is moving forward at a satisfying pace), just some chat about shows and so on.  Three comments on my last post led me to really think about shows - what that might mean and what one might be up against.

First of all, Carol asked how I'd found out what shows were where and if they had suitable exhibitions to enter.  The first place I went to was the 'Crafts' interest group section of the Sheffield Forum, an on-line forum for the local area, and asked there if anyone knew of anything local that would answer.  A lady told me of two local events and when and where they're held, so I web searched them and found out what sort of exhibitions they had in the arts and crafts sections.  You might need to download an entry form when you get to this part in order to see what's on offer.  Several shows have only arts and craft sales, rather than competitions, and some have limited categories that may not appeal to fine embroiderers.

After that, I tried searching for 'town/city/county name' + show or fayre or horticultural show etc. and came up with this site: Country Shows.  (There's another site called Game Fairs and Country Shows that's similar too.) On there, in county order, is a list of a LOT of shows.  There'll be other sites like this too - just do a search for them!=)  Each show's website is listed and you can find out what's on for each show there.  The ones that tend towards horticulture (flowers and veg) as opposed to agriculture (sheep, pigs and horses), seem to be the ones that have an arts and crafts section.

Sharon then mentioned that some shows can be very competitive and can also seem like a forum for certain groups to get into the spotlight.  That seems to ring true after one or two some comments I've seen here in the UK too.  One lady was lamenting that, after trying for 20 years, she never got to win as someone from the WI (Women's Institute) or local embroidery club always seemed to be picked over her.  (She did in the end, as she presented a 3D embroidered garden that knocked their socks off - go girl!)  She was also subject to judge's preference of design and colour, which brings me to the third comment:

Wendy mentioned that a homestyle TV personality had been heard of entering regional shows and (if I understood this correctly) winning outright and that led me to think about judge bias.  Of course, this is always a problem with competitions and, in this case, the judge(s) probably felt they had no choice but to pick the celebrity's entries as the winners.  Also, some judges will, understandably, allow their own tastes to colour their decisions.

So, where does that leave me?  Well, in the same place, really.  I still intend to enter.

I'd be fooling myself if I thought that we lived in a fair world and there are going to be times, events and places where the deserving are overlooked for some unfair reason.  However, this isn't going to happen in every category at every show.  It'll just happen sometimes and, I feel fairly certain that there will have been some sort of protest made against a celebrity getting preferential treatment.  Things like this are deemed newsworthy as they're relatively rare.  If they happened all the time, no-one would hear about it anymore.  So, I'm not overly concerned about that, especially not in my first year.  After all, I actually have no real idea of what sort of pieces are submitted to any of the shows I'm interested in.  I've just seen the category titles, so my first year will be a matter of joining in and getting the lie of the land.  It also gives me something to work pieces for, which can often be a problem when you enjoy creating things for the sake of it as much as anything.  Without the motivation, the ideas tend to stay just ideas and don't come to fruition.

There may also be some other element of bias in the judging of some places, especially where repeat winners may be involved.  One show, which I would have said was easily going to the most competitive one, has a trophy for the best piece of hand embroidery and another for the overall best entry in the arts and crafts section.  There'll be some jostling for those, I'm certain!  Having said that, others will be low key and more 'for fun'.

One of the American ladies whose blog I had a look at gave another interesting insight into the show world when she showcased her entries - all of which either won that category or gained an honourable mention.  She reproduced the judges comments too and that really made me think about stitching quality.  More on that with the next WIPW post!!  Her post also gave me pause as her entries were all in a very similar style and weren't really complex.  A number of pieces I saw on a Google image search also showed relatively simple work winning ribbons.  There's nothing remotely wrong with that, but it did make me wonder about the types of exhibits that one would expect in various locations.  That'll be very interesting indeed - seeing how much the expected complexity of the entries varies from show to show.

So yes, I still intend to have a go and am looking forward to it very much.  I know it won't be plain sailing with me winning first prize in every category at every show just 'cos I enter.  Hardly!  I mayn't come away with anything other than the fun of entering, and that's OK.  It's just meant to be a pleasure and motivation thing after all.=)

Moving on to auctions and I spend a few hours yesterday afternoon listing a number of items on e-bay's free listing day event.  There are pieces of evenweave and Aida fabric, counted thread work charts and a number of other needlework related things listed on my auctions.  Many have worldwide availability, some just Europe, some just UK.  If you see something you're interested in, but can't bid on because I didn't select a postage option to that area, as long as it has no bids yet, I can change that, so do leave a message and let me know and I'll see to it ASAP.  The photos decorating this posting are examples of some of the things I've listed.=)  Click on any one of them for a clearer view of the design.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013


Carol Hopper said...

Hi, Thank you for providing the info about show competitions. I will certainly have a search for shows in my area when I have completed the City & Guilds course.

zenuwpees said...

Merci du renseignement bon apres-midi Marie-Claire

Rachel said...

As about the least competitive person I know, the subject of what wins what is not one I usually think about, but it is just possible that the celebrity had done a good job...!

I have seen something my grandmother entered for a WI competition, and it's of a very high standard - even for her!

floozina said...

Over the past many years both my husband (fine woodworker/furniture designer,maker/sculptor) and I (crazy quilting, embroidery, textile art) have entered many shows here in Australia. While he has done reasonably well with wooden boxes and the like, neither of us has been very successful with our more artistic endeavours even though the winners' work wasn't up to our standard (not just our opinion, lol). I once remarked as a throwaway line after a disappointment that 'judging said more about the judge/s than the judged', and I still believe that. There are so many variables, as have been mentioned by others, that one can't possibly imagine what goes on inside the mind of a judge. Certainly they are far from unbiased. And now I guess all the judges will come out fighting - I intend no offence. These are my own observations in this country only.

Elizabeth Braun said...

Floozina, I think the vast majority of people, judges included, will know that bias is a fact of life when it comes to many competitions. Sure, there are a number of things that certain groups do to try and make it fair - making the pieces anonymous to the judges, having a set score sheet to work from etc, but even with that, their own preferences are bound to sneak in. I know that I might judge 'use of colour and texture' very differently from someone with markedly different tastes!

As to flat out bias, well that's nothing new. It was even mentioned way back in the Mosaic Law, that a judge should not act partially, nor may he accept a bribe. It was common enough back then for God to rule against it!!=)

My own opinion of course, but if a judge were to come out fighting (and I doubt any read my blog!!!), s/he may have something to hide....LOL!!

Keep up the good work, hun!=)