Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summerfolk - Q & A

 Now that Goderich Celtic is out of the picture, I am working towards my appearance at Summerfolk in Owen Sound, August 20 - 22.
Here is the 'official' description I submitted:
The Wareham Forge returns! Absent last year for a special project at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Artisan Blacksmith Darrell Markewitz comes back to Summerfolk with new concept based hand forged metalworks. 2015 will be the first year of a planned four year cycle, featuring objects based on the theme of the four elements. This year's presentation will exhibit pieces based on 'Earth'. Darrell continues to work on custom architectural projects, and commissions always sought. See the web site : 
'Starburst Bowl' - 2014
On 20/07/15 2:39 PM, Jon wrote:
I'm preparing an article for this week's Sun Times and was hoping to 
trouble you for a some stories and impressions of Summerfolk. 
At how many Summerfolks have you vended?
"Over 20"
I think my first year was either 1992 or 1993. I've missed two years over
the period to this year.
How would you describe your experience at Summerfolk to another vendor 
who has never been?
The atmosphere at Summerfolk is far more relaxed than a typical 'just sales'
event. There are a large number of people attending who come for all of the
three days, plus a large number who actually camp on site for the whole
event. This means a lot of 'browsing', people typically will make several
returns to an individual booth, after viewing the entire selection of
artistic work available, before making a purchase. This also goes for people
who return year after year, watching your work as it develops. Generally I
feel that although this does mean more effort on my part, it does make for a
'better educated' customer.
The very relaxed 'old hippie' tone to the event, coupled with this return
flow, does mean that booth security has never, ever, been a concern for me
personally. If you wander off yourself for a half hour (to see a music set),
nothing will be missing and any potential customers know they can just catch
you later.
Balanced against this are the length of the working days. Typically 12 plus
hours - longer when you consider the set up Friday and tear down Sunday.
Morning on Kelso Beach - about 2005
How does Summerfolk compare to other craft and music festivals you attend?
Honestly, I have cut back on other sales events in the last decade. 
Partially because of the huge work involved in transporting and setting up
the booth structure. My own work has been come more complex over the decades
- with an increase in pricing related to this quality and scale increase. I
don't make $20 candle holders any more, and consider my presentation at
Summerfolk more of a gallery setting - than any specific attempt to generate
sales. This year Summerfolk is the *only* retail sales event that I will be
taking part in.
One significant part of Summerfolk is distinctive : the Artisan Gallery. 
The original intent of this was to allow individual artists to display work
well beyond the scope of typical sales items. Supporting this effort with
cash prizes has proved especially effective in encouraging this additional
effort to produce more elaborate objects by the artists. 
(I've won a good number of these over the years, and personally I can tell
you this recognition has been very important in personally encouraging my
own work.)
'Hector's Bane' - won 'Best in Show' for 2013
What is your favourite Summerfolk memory?
For me it comes down to the people.
There are a group of regional artisans who over the years I have come to
consider my peers. Many of these people I only see at Summerfolk, but even
still there is a warmth of seeing 'old friends' every year.
This extends to the 'customers' as well. I do have some regulars who have in
effect been 'collecting' my work over the years.
Personally, my many years beside Jim Macnamarra has had a major impact on my
direction of work and outlook to the 'way of the artist'. Over the years,
the line between our individual work has blurred, with echoes of the
influence on each other (or at least Jim's on me) showing. Not to mention
general inspired craziness. At its height, the two us where actually showing
up early Thursday morning and hauling in several tons of rock to create the
large garden style displays which themselves became one of the many
Summerfolk traditions.
2011 Set up - much restrained from earlier presentations!
What should people know about your art?
I am distinctive in the depth of historical research that goes behind the
work people see displayed at Summerfolk. Since 2001, I have been involved in
a series of experimental archaeology projects, recovering lost methods of
actually smelting metallic iron from raw ores, based on Northern European
ancient technologies. This makes Wareham the centre for this research, most
certainly unique in Canada, and perhaps the primary site in all of North
The bloomery iron produced by these ancient methods is a distinctive
material, with properties different than modern industrial steels. My effort
to create objects revealing the forms and textures of bloomery iron will
continue with new work presented at Summerfolk this year.
'Bloom Iron Bowl #2'
I'm happy to say that Jon decided not to cut up the submission above, instead he used it for a blog post over on the Summerfolk web site.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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