I drove to Canberra this weekend (11/12 June) to take a look at the Canberra Hand Made Markets and was absolutely gob smacked by the number of people and potential customers moving through the two pavilions. Thousands of people were out there on a sunny but cold Canberra day (started at -2 degrees!!) with lots of buying and selling going on at the 500 or so market stalls. This despite the fact that the very popular weekly local market - at the Kingston Bus Depot - was running at the same time and was also teeming with customers.
The Market was selling everything from home grown alpaca wool, through to the inevitable jewellery, fashion, toys, homewares, woodwork, home made cookies, local wines and much much more. Again I was disappointed that pottery was poorly represented - although there were a few. Even the visual arts were more visible than Pottery. I had to look very hard to find any potters at all. One or two local potters were there including Susan Hill from Hillgrove, plus Kim Aitken from Northern NSW and Lynley Northcott from Victoria. Canberra has a thriving and excellent Potters Society with some really good functional potter members, but it seems neither the society nor any of the individual members see the value in attending which is a bit sad. I need to understand why so I will be talking to a few ACT potters over the next few weeks. It seems, on the surface, to be an opportunity missed, but there may be some good reasons for it.
I have heard from a number of NSW potters that it is way too expensive - but that really is relative and depends on what you can sell, so if there are insufficient sales and high participation costs that does make sense. That did not appear to be the case last week - ie disappointing sales, however, it is worth noting that in addition to the participation fee interstate potters have to find the travel costs, and at least 3 nights accommodation - which does mean potters themselves have to weight up the pros and cons very carefully, it just may be too hard to justify.
Nevertheless it was pretty impressive and I will definitely endeavour to get a seat at the table for the September and December markets to represent our potters.