Sunday, 1 April 2012

All for a good cause!

Spent my Saturday volunteering at the Tigerlilies Cancer Research fundraising group's first ever Easter Craft Fair!  After all their hard work the day seemed to go really well, and I'm so pleased and proud of all the time and effort they put into it, and how nicely it all came off.  I was assigned to the kids activity table, which I obviously loved.  I'd already helped decorate some biscuits to sell, some more imaginatively than others...

"You're a chicken, Harry!"
The Craft Fair was held at the Fabrika IAC (independent arts centre) in Leicester, a venue for arts and culture events.  I actually attended the launch three years ago as part of a group doing circus skills to draw in the foot traffic, so it was really nice to see a few familiar faces and catch up on how the place was doing.  Having found it again I'll be very interested to see some of the events coming up there in the future.

For my part as a volunteer I was supervising the children in some craft activities, and in particular two sisters, Krishna and Saiya, stuck around as their mum was running a stall.  They were great girls, very different in character, and a lot of fun to hang out with.  We made cards, decorated eggs, and did drawings - although once they realised I drew the rest of the day became a contest to see what -or who- they could get me to draw.  I happily obliged.  The family asked to keep the drawings, but fortunately my housemate had her camera-phone handy.

In return they each did a drawing of me.  How artistic!

My favourite game was "Guess what my teacher looks like" where they gave no description whatsoever, and I had to keep doing different versions of what I thought the teacher could look like until I got it right.  I also made a Magic Rabbit Circle with a spinner in the middle so that we could spin it and watch the bunnies chase each other (It's actually the ancient symbol of the Three Hares or 'Tinner's Hares', but try explaining that to a six-year old)  You will notice that although every rabbit has two ears which makes six in total, when you count them up you will find only three ears in the circle - clearly a work of the most ingenious magic!

For my part it was great to see so many crafts-people plying their wares.  I spoke with Paul Hainsworth, whose character-ful paintings I really enjoyed, about the illustration degrees we had both done, how they had increased our critical awareness and given us a general overview of illustration but were lacking in practical knowledge on getting into a particular area of the industry, the challenge of paying the bills versus the passion and necessity of drawing, and a few other things.  I also spoke to some recent graduates from Loughborough Uni whose first craft fair it was and how that was going- Zara Emily, Alexandra Palmer and Gillian Armstrong were selling some beautiful screen-printed items- and Krishna and Saiya's parents were suggesting jobs in Leicester and at events like the craft fair, which was very thought-provoking and encouraging.  All in all it was just wonderful to see and speak to so many people who love their crafts, however obscure, and regardless of sales know that to stop altogether would simply make them miserable.  I'm off to Uganda on Tuesday and the thing that concerns me most is not the washing facilities but how much drawing time I'll have!  Shows my priorities, I guess :)

Once everyone had gone home and we were clearing up, I accidentally got involved in an impromptu poetry class.  A gentleman named Dave was trying to teach a few coffee-drinkers La Belle Dame sans Merci by Keats.

"O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake..."

"And no birds sing!" I called from further down the hall, my arms full of paper.  I'd not read the poem since high school but I have a head for remembering verses when I put my mind to it.  I decided to learn Jabberwocky for a Library Day in Year Eight of and I still remember it now, word-perfect.
Dave seemed very pleased to have someone know what he was talking about, and we discussed poetry a bit afterwards, once I had translated to the slightly bemused coffee-drinkers what was going on ("'Wassup, knight?  You look a bit pasty".  He says he met a girl, it got a bit raunchy and she took him back to her place) and explained to them what sedge was.

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