art and commerce

etsy waywardword love ACEOClay is coming to TV with ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’, a Bake-Off for potters. It looks as though they are making functional ware – bowls, pots, mugs: completely uneconomic to make to sell in the UK. It’s started me thinking about why we still make, when, in capitalist terms, it’s such a waste of time and money.
knitted snoodBut I’m currently re-knitting a scarf, from unpicked wool. I’ve probably spent thirty hours on it – mostly on the tube, but still huge investment of time compared to buying one for £1 in the charity shop. And I heard on Women’s Hour recently, a discussion about making home-made cakes where shop-bought were considered better in taste, cost, and time spent. That’s not the point, I shouted at the radio. And I suppose, that was not the point for Van Gogh, painting in Arles, or Gerard Manley Hopkins in St Asaph, either: neither were selling, or being seen, or read, in their own lifetimes.
So I’ve been trying to think about making and art without thinking about commerce. Quite hard for an ex-management consultant. Even charities are judged on effectiveness and efficiency using money – that most fungible of measures. My own answer is to think about pleasure, satisfaction, as a measure. I count as a tick every time I look at the lovely green of the scarf, feel its warm fuzziness, think about the sheep in Iceland on the slopes of a volcano, and the Istex factory (see this blog entry from Ella Gordon), so incongrously boxy.
art original ACEO faith etsyBut sharing is an important part of making too – those Woman’s Hour cakes, Manley Hopkins’ poems. And it is easier, and harder, now, with the Internet. Ravelry, the knitting site, is full of people making and sharing. People buy and sell wool and patterns there, too, but it’s not distorted by people wanting to make a fortune.
art original hope ACEO on etsy Browsing etsy, I came across artist’s trading cards, often called ACEO (art card editions and originals). The size of a playing card, they can be swopped, collected, grouped, displayed. Too homely to ever be capital-A Art. And, of course, without curators, there’s all kinds of terrible (to me) ACEOs, as well as lovely ones. Who selects, if there’s no money in it? Hmmm – what do you think? Anyway, I’m participating, at least, as WaywardWord. And here’s a few ACEOs I liked…

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