Friday 9 August 2013

Have art, will travel

A few days ago I arrived home from Vancouver Island where I was presenting my work at the Filberg Festival - an annual outdoor event in scenic Comox, BC. It features a range of high-calibre artists and artisans, lively music, cheerful crowds, and is usually blessed with balmy long-weekend weather. This year was no exception.

Regular readers of my blog may remember my description of the chaos in my studio while preparing for last year's Filberg Festival in "Creativity Equals Chaos" (July 2012). This year I thought I'd change focus and talk about what it takes to physically get from Point A (my studio) to Point B (the festival site).

Packing for an outdoor festival the size of Filberg is always daunting. Not only must I consider the work I'll be presenting - the paintings, drawings, prints, cards, and other items - and ensure I have the right amount of stock on hand, I must also factor in the canopy tent, display panels, lighting, and all the odds and ends that comprise my mobile gallery setup. I have to get it right because a two-hour ferry ride and a couple of hours of driving separate my studio from the festival site, and that means there's no way to nip back home for any forgotten items. Not only that, but I must do this in a state of semi-exhaustion after long days of festival preparation. However, I've become a veteran of this type of work and have systems and checklists in place to help ensure nothing crucial is left behind. 

Before packing the car, the stuff to be transported was collected in various boxes and containers.
Calendars and other items packed for transport.
Precious paintings shrouded in bubble wrap and
carefully placed into sturdy boxes.
Display panels, containers of this-and-that,
and various other crucial items.

Somehow it all gets crammed into my car - an amazing Honda Element which, with the rear seats removed, turns into a spacious transport van. It also has a handy roof-top rack that accommodates the canopy tent, card rack, and other bulky items.

Waiting at the ferry terminal

Even so, once everything is packed there isn't an inch to spare.

The popularity of these versatile cars among the artist/artisan community was obvious when I parked on site at the festival next to not one, but three other Honda Elements.

After being escorted to my assigned spot by one of the army of festival crew members (the majority of which are volunteers) who work tirelessly to ensure the event runs like a well-oiled machine, it wasn't long before the jumble of stuff crammed into my car was magically transformed into an elegant, outdoor mini-gallery. This is thanks in no small part to my "road crew" that consisted of my husband and also my sister and brother-in-law who happen to live not far from the festival site. As the saying goes, "many hands make light work", and when it comes to erecting canopy tents, assembling display panels, setting up tables, etc., this is particularly true and I'm grateful for their assistance and support.

Over the four days of the festival, my art was well received and a number of paintings and drawings found new homes. Among them was my award-winning silk painting "Urban Flock: Mallards":

And this coloured pencil drawing of a nesting barn swallow:

Four glorious summer days later - days packed with conversations about art, and animals, and all kinds of other topics, and enhanced by the live music drifting from the nearby stage - it was all over and it was time to pack again for the return journey home. The festival site, with its temporary community of artist, artisans, organizers and volunteers dissolved in merely a couple of hours. Goodbyes were said, hugs were shared, and pledges to "see you next year" were issued. Various vehicles, from rental vans, to veteran Volkswagen campers, to small hatchbacks and, of course, ever-popular Honda Elements were re-loaded and dispersed - some to locations just down the road while others faced lengthy journeys home to other provinces.
Happily my own journey home involved lighter load and more space in the car, not to mention a lovely coastal drive and a scenic ferry ride. However back at the studio the unpacking process has evolved slowly and I find, days later, I still have boxes to sort. The busy weeks of preparation, the packing and travel, the long days at the festival, and then the re-packing and return trip have taken their toll and I'm tired! I've been taking a bit of time to rest and recuperate, and then I'll regroup for the next summer festival: Arts Alive - a lively one-day street festival that takes place a few days from now, just down the road in my home community.
Every festival, large or small, near or far, involves sorting, packing, transporting, set-up and, at the end of a hopefully sunny (and profitable) day or weekend, the same process in reverse. It's tiring work but it's gratifying. It offers opportunities to share my art and the stories behind it, and to personally connect one-on-one with those who appreciate it. It forms an important part of my life as an artist - a life I wouldn't trade for any other.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yea - so much work but so worth it! I have just repacked my car for a road trip to a harp school in Wells,B.C.