The Arts Festival Shop (formerly “Blockbusters”, henceforth known as “Arts Off-Centre”) in Holton Road opened for exhibitions, workshops and ticket sales on Tuesday 7th May, and was open up to and including the festival week. We opened the shop between 10am and 4pm Monday to Saturday, but occasionally started earlier (due to insomnia) and finished later (due to demand). The shop was prepared by volunteers, and a huge thanks goes to the VOGA people who gave up a couple of days to paint the shop – Bernards 1 & 2, Sue, Ann and Allan. Also thanks to DOP’s Paints for donating the paint.
With the Fesival sign up, the shop looked fantastic. Last year’s “Muriel”, a colourful community creation, occupied pride of place. We displayed posters for the various festival events, and local artists supplied exhibits for the first couple of weeks. We had a number of easels, many set as blackboards, for the “have a go yourself” sessions.
On Friday 10th May the shop was officially opened by the Barry Town Mayor, Cllr. Les Sword – one of the final duties of his “reign”. Present were many of the people who had supported the festival, either at a personal level, or representing the organisations funding and supporting the festival.
On Friday 24th May we swapped the artwork over, and put up a new exhibition by the artists from the Vale of Glamorgan Artists (VOGA). This was a portrait exhibition, and mirrors were provided for self-portraits, and VOGA artists manned the shop for the last (festival) week to provide assistance if required to people who wished to create their own portraits. This went very well – it was half-term week, and we had a lot of parent and children in, and the VOGA team took no prisoners – everyone was encouraged to create something, and to extend themselves with new types of art or different mediums.
You might have seen Lily Cole’s “Art Matters” on Sky Arts recently. One featured an artist called Tacita Dean – I was blown away by the blackboard and chalk images she had created –
Tacita Dean Mountains
– so I was determined to see if we had any talent like that in Barry! My attempts weren’t very good, but we had lots of contributions, and we photographed all the art created in the shop, and will keep it on display here for posterity…
The results were a bit of a mixed bag – a few political statements, lots of graffiti-style items, one item that Alan Davies of QI plans to use as his coat of arms, and one four-letter word by a group of young kids in on the first Saturday. That one I’m not bothering to show. Sorry, it’s a family show! We’ve also had some art created by “proper artists” including art students, and people who spent a bit more time and effort on their creations. And when VOGA took over the shop, different media become available, so the displays became more colourful, and with a bit of gentle browbeating, some people also “tried harder” – good to see!
We counted some 1573 visitors to the shop during the 23 days we were open (plus a few more in the “wind-down week”, and we also ran a visitors book, and we filled 6 pages with over 50 comments, all positive.
In addition to the people who ran the shop on a day to day basis, a grateful thanks go to the owner of the property, Marc Wolfe-Cowan, who was very supportive, as was his agent, John Arborne of Cadenhead Surveyors in Penarth, and Gerald “The Shop”, so instrumental in preparing the shop for our use after it was broken into and damaged by water when the pipes were stolen.
Our first festival shop was a great success, and has set a difficult target to beat for the next festival.