Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Has the age of Arts and Crafts long gone?

They say that you reap what you sow.
Well, now that I have been "casual" (in name only) since January I now have another problem. At the height of the summer peak trading, I now cannot get a pitch on the Sunday market. If I had been paying for my pitch as a permanent trader all this time (and often making a loss) then I would be assured a place.
What has happened in the past six months is that the managers of the market have been busy filling all the vacant permanent pitches. Brilliant, you would think. Keep the market thriving with people who can afford to make a loss. Kick out these "part timers" and keep the market full.

I have to say, that this makes perfect sense and I couldn't argue with that.

So who are they filling the Farmer's and Crafts sunday market with? New, young artists and makers, hungry for a chance to sell their wares?


Second Hand clothing
CD sellers

If you think that this a good idea then that's fine. Cambridge Market managers simply need to re-brand the sunday market and remove the "crafts" element from the description as it is rapidly becoming false advertising.
Here on the Council's website for those wishing to trade on a sunday it says:

"you must also design or make craft items you sell, and local produce must be from within 60 miles of Cambridge."

 If you think, like me that a farmers and craft market should be just that, then don't go to the sunday market for quality, hand-made goods. Go to All Saints Arts and Craft Market on a saturday, opposite Trinity College. It is a market that is struggling to continue, as many people don't know it is there. Changes in footfall now that the Grand Arcade is open means that it doesn't get anywhere near the amount of people that it used to.
It's a pity, but perhaps the time of hand made goods has had its day. If people really wanted British hand made jewellery, art ceramics etc then we wouldn't have this problem. Artists like myself wouldn't have to worry about making a loss on a few weeks of the year as the rest of the year would make up for it. People would seek out All Saints every week and it would bustle with life like it did twenty years ago.
Now that the shopping public require their shops to be open every day of the week at times that suit them, small independent craftspeople cannot compete. I can't be there every week. I do what I can.
I think the future will be online for people like us. On Etsy, I can be open all hours. I'll see out the summer and see how I get on but it may get to the stage where the little garden in the centre of Cambridge, after 40 years has had its day and so have many of the traditional crafts that reside there.

You can't halt progress.