Sunday, 1 July 2012

Survival Strategies - Third Time Around

This is the third time in my adult life that there has been a so called ‘financial crisis’. This is a strange description that somehow implies it is nobodies fault and is something we must all take responsibility for, ‘tighten belts’ give up things etc,  and  they come round regularly, just like Christmas… They are always caused by some people wanting more of the available cash than they have a right to and it is always the poorest strata of society that suffers most. The averagely honest person just trying to get on with life finds they have had their pensions and savings stolen by financial institutions of one sort or another and are told that the only way out of this mess is to spend more money whilst simultaneously making more sacrifices!  Perhaps we are stupid to let them persuade us to give them our money in the first place, but we are usually lured with the prospect of it preserving its value in the face of inflation and usually we are bombarded with marketing that works extremely hard to persuade us that by giving them our money we are doing the best thing for our families. We never seem to learn that there are very persuasive institutionalised forces at work whose only goal is to part us from our earnings for their own benefit!

You may be wondering what all this has to do with basket making but I have noticed in each of these, so called, 'crises' that as people lose faith in a mutually beneficial society they start to think about self sufficiency and view learning a new craft skill as a way of avoiding spending the money that they have managed to hang on to. So, artists and craftspeople who have skills to teach usually find they lose out on commissions and sales but get more teaching work. Most of the artists/ craftspeople I know live in a perpetual financial crisis anyway so for them it is often only a change of the source of their income! This time, however  it is proving a bit harder because many institutions in Europe now have little funding to subsidise courses with, consequently  the fees are higher making it more difficult to get enough students!

Studio classes - Maggie and Francoise
We all have our own finely tuned strategies for coping at these times,  mine is to teach in my studio and make things for my personal use or for my home. So, over the last few months I have been teaching open classes with no formal theme. Most of the students are total beginners they come with some idea of what they would like to make and I teach them how to do it, and if they don’t have any ideas I offer a choice of skills to learn. There is a selection of pictures below of some of the students and their work. Everyone brings something to share at lunch and there has been a wide range of basketry items made, laughter shared and good food eaten by this multi national group. If you are in the Poitou Charente area and would like to join us email me for details.

For my home I have made a looped wire basket for the shower to hold soaps etc, a fire screen using beer tins, a tetra pak bag to take to the beach and a for myself a milk carton handbag.  I am now tackling a large mixed material cupboard  as this particular crisis looks like running and running!
Katie and card wastepaper bin

Maggies willow bark bridesmaids basket
Diane and willow plant support
Mick and willow /hazel frame basket
Lindas pine needle and ash  tray

Bernard and x-ray lampshade, Linda with pine needles 

Caroline and mixed material coiled pot

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