Finding Inspiration in the Livestock Market

The most important thing in a gallery is the art and craft. The British Isles is teeming with brilliant and imaginative folk who express themselves in their wonderful creations. But how does that work find its way into a gallery?

When I started the gallery back in 2000 the internet was still in its relative infancy.  Artists wrote letters to the gallery enclosing actual printed photos of their work. We then might travel a long way to visit them and their studios. It was time consuming, but also really enjoyable, and we got to know many lovely people. Then came the internet surge and every week we get emails and images via email, with links to websites and so on. But it is not quite the same as meeting the artist and holding their work in your hand. 

But instead of travelling all over the place to discover work there was a brilliant show which took place in Harrogate, called the British Trade Craft Fair. There in smart stalls, with plush carpet and comfy surroundings you could see the work of scores of makers and artists. It was a vital and very enjoyable resource for galleries to find new work and meet up with old friends. Sadly, a change of ownership led to the BCTF being cancelled within a year. Let’s just say the new owners didn’t quite understand what they had bought. 

Into the breach has stepped Andy Lynam, who for years has run retail shows for potters and other makers in Livestock markets. Why there? Because such venues are not costly to hire, and those savings allow young and new makers the chance to sell direct to the public. They are hugely popular and successful. So Andy has used this model to create a new show for galleries. Gone is the nice carpet. Did you know that after all these plush shows and exhibitions the carpet is torn up and thrown away? Incredible isn’t it? So all that waste is gone. Instead we have cattle pens, concrete floors, no heating and no frills. The result is a show that is back to basics and all the better for it. The work is well displayed, the stalls are a fifth of the price of the old BCTF, and there is a wonderful camaraderie amongst all involved. We found lots of fine work there and are looking forward to our next Artisan Made.

The first photo shows Ellie in the auction ring. Luckily she didn’t get sold…

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