Sunday, 24 May 2009

Northumberland Art Fair

My part of the Figure8 pitch

Although the first day of the Art Fair started out bright and sunny, it soon clouded over and the hordes of punters simply didn't turn up. After a while, just sitting around becomes very tiresome, and there's only so many times you can get up and walk around the table.

We'd been told that the Museum at Woodhorn received about 1000 visitors a day, but this certainly wasn't demonstrated at the weekend. Considering this was a Bank Holiday weekend - and a sunny one at that - we were lucky if maybe two hundred people came through the Art Fair building in the three days it was open.

Things started to look bad when we arrived for the first day of the Fair to find that the spotlights were all directed onto the floor rather than the walls where the pictures were hung. Requests for someone to come and alter them were met with the advice that "only the Caretaker is allowed to do that and he isn't here today. He was here yesterday when you were setting up, however". So that's alright then.

It became very clear that there'd been next to no advertising. The organisers claimed that, by keeping the cost of display panels as low as possible, they'd been restricted in their advertising revenue. But some advertising costs nothing. For instance, searching for "Northumberland Art Fair" on Google produces as the second hit, a link to my own ArtSlant entry for Figure8's stand at the Art Fair!

There were no signs or banners in the area round about the Woodhorn site or, indeed on the Woodhorn site. On the door of the building where the Art Fair took place, instead of a big sign announcing our presence, there were a couple of notices directing people to another building where a Recipe Book Project was taking place. A little research showed that there were no similar notices on that building informing people of what was going on in our building.

I spotted about half a dozen sales during the event, most of them in the £35 - £65 range. From talking to visitors, it was quite evident that those who wandered through the hall had no idea that the Art Fair was being held - they'd just come to the Museum for a day out.

There was a questionnaire to fill in at the end to assess pitch-holders' views. I'd like to have been a fly on the wall when they were read.

The most difficult question to answer was "What did you like most about taking part in the Art Fair?" After some thought I put, "Apart from comparing complaints with the other pitch-holders, I can think of nothing."


Caroline said...

My commiserations! Your blog brought back memories..
I've had similar experiences over here, desperate. And the other (French) artists were, in the main, boastful and unfriendly which never helpsget through the weekend.
At one big exhibition we were shoved off, as unknowns (tho' they'd seen our work) to the depths of the second floor with the worst of painters.
The best spots went to higher profile artists.
They'd had earned official titles like 'Peintre de la Marine' - even though their work was no better than ours- and I'm speaking honestly here, I'd say if it was great art!
Much pleasanter was an Expo we did with fellow Brits... helpful, kind, humerous, encouraging..

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise. I've done quite a few Trade Shows - including a couple at the Glasgow SECC - where there have been more exhibitors than attendees. Standing around for three days making small talk with the guys on the stands next to you isn't much fun...


Caroline said...

Perhaps the answer is to organise one? After all, it can't be that difficult, going by the idiots who half do it?
'New Improved 'NAF' mmm... the acronym speaks volumes!

vivien said...

:>( aaaaggggh - infuriating and disappointing

Anonymous said...

Harry, sorry to see that you had such at the Northumberland Art Fair. It ain't right, what happened there.

Bruce T.

harrybell said...

Thanks to everyone. Your commiserations are appreciated.

ian said...

I spent Sunday sitting in the baking sun in Bath city centre, while the hordes of alleged punters failed to turn up at the Bath Fringe Art Fair - 8000 last year we were told.

harrybell said...

Luxury! You got to sit in the sunshine.I had to sit in a badly-lit building while the supposed punters sported themselves in the sun outside. Still, neither of us won ....