Thank you everyone who’s gone to see it, and especially those who’ve got in touch to tell me how much they like it and how professional it looks. It’s always good to hear that your work is appreciated. I’m going to photograph the exhibition properly, but in the mean time, here are some pictures from the opening.
|Annie with her picture
|Watching the film of the workshops
I’m still fundraising for I Love Scolawi, and am now selling my work to contribute (I’ll talk about this more in the next email and attach copies of all my pictures in case you’re interested). I only need to raise another £1,450 to pay off all the costs I’ve incurred over the course of the project, which is excellent news. Thank you so much if you’ve donated to the project, and if you’ve been meaning to, but haven’t got round to it yet, there is a paypal donate button on the top right side of my blog.
The wonderful Amanda Graham has organised a quiz evening in the nearby village of Kettle with proceeds to be split between I Love Scolawi and the local play park (for those people who aren’t local, Kettle is home of The Singing Kettle which you might have heard of if you’ve had young children in the last 20 years). Please come along if you can, it should be a good night.
I keep running out of words for what an amazing experience this project has been for me. I’ve met lots of wonderful people, and been touched by how enthusiastic everyone has been about what I’ve doing. This is the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and it’s been very exciting for me, and a huge learning curve with a few big lows but lots and lots of highs. Here are a few of the things I’ve learnt this year:
ALWAYS run community art projects through a non-profit organisation
If I had run this project through an organisation I don’t think I would have had any problems funding it and I would have even been paid for my time. individuals are unable to apply for nearly all art funding, but there is money out there for art projects if organisations know where to look. I had no trouble raising funds so that the Explorer Scouts could learn filming, buy equipment and create a video for me.
Self-fundraising is hard and time consuming. It has made I Love Scolawi much more stressful than it could have been, and the work I produced for the project has suffered as a result. I only had time to etch ten of my own pictures, which feels a bit sparse – especially on the long wall they are hung on. I definitely have a few more pictures swimming around in my head still that I want to etch.
Don’t give up
I don’t think there was ever a point that I would have given up on I Love Scolawi. I had space booked in one of the biggest galleries in Fife, and they believed in me AND in the project. I did give up on the idea of going back out to Malawi a second time to exhibit the show. My husband and I talked about it, and we knew that our finances couldn’t justify another trip. Then I received a grant from the Hope Scott Trust that I had applied for (not expecting to get it) which covered car hire on the exhibition trip.
It’s very hard to say no to a cheque for £720, but we knew that the larger expenses would massively outweigh this grant. Then someone donated our air fares and the second trip was possible again.
I truly believe that I Love Scolawi would have only been half the project it is without the second trip out to Malawi. It felt really special, showing the exhibition to the people who had created pictures for it, and seeing how much it meant to them to see their work included in the exhibition.
People are Brilliant
This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. Fundraising for this project has made me realise how much people care about projects like mine, and that if people believe in you and your project, they will help you make it happen.
I’ve mentioned before about how alone and scared I felt when I found out I didn’t get the government funding I’d applied for. But as soon as I posted about it on Facebook, friends told me that the money could be raised and that they would help me. I’ve been especially touched by the people who have helped me fundraise who I didn’t know previously. People who heard about my project in the local press and got in touch in order to help me. Fundraising I Love Scolawi has truly been a group effort, and if you have contributed financially, or in any way, then I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. The project wouldn’t have happened without you. So far we have raised nearly £6200!
Be more flexible when teaching
When I started teaching the workshops in May, I realised quickly that even though I didn’t want to influence people’s pictures, I was getting strangely anxious if the participants weren’t doing what I was expecting them to do. Some children were even etching onto upside-down photos! I had to make a conscious decision to force myself appreciate that though the base photos were mine, the etched pictures were theirs, and I had given them permission to do whatever they wanted with them.
As an artist, I am a complete control freak. But as a teacher, I need to give people skills, and let them use that knowledge in the way they want to. Easier said than done, but I’ll keep working on it.