We have one week to go before we launch our first Biblio-Art Awards!!! One week!!! EEEK! So many things yet to do… For those of you who have missed out on any previous comments about this subject, my husband and I have initiated a new art award as a means of contributing to the arts community in general, and more specifically and less altruistically, inviting some new excitement into our lives! We renovated the bookshop in January to include a small art space, and we were wanting some book-related artwork, and this seemed like a logical way to get it!
I set aside a wheelbarrow full of 80 vintage books, of various subject matter, condition and appeal. Artists could select a book, either in person or online, and create an artwork inspired by the book. The artwork could make use of the book (as in we are not against the books being given a new physical arrangement) or simply be informed by the book. Out of the 80 books barrowed, we sold 65. Not bad for a first year, we thought.
Now, two weeks after the (flexible) deadline of 14 August, we have exactly 30 official entries. A reasonable turn-out, all things considered. And the entries are, with only two or three exceptions, nothing short of spectacular! We are so overwhelmed by the work that has gone into them and the quality of the works produced that we are now feeling incredibly humbled. What on earth are these brilliant artists doing trusting mugs like us, who have never owned a gallery before, do not have any real artistic qualifications (apart from a lifetime appreciation) and have only ever pulled one exhibition together before (and that was for a relative!)?! Humbled we are.
Next weekend is Port Fairy’s Ex Libris Book Fair, which attracts plenty of booknuts. There is a massive secondhand book sale, and other dealers come from across the state to set up stalls. There are also author sessions and this year we also have a few artists attending (a children’s book illustrator, Leigh Hobbs, famous for Old Tom, and now Mr Chicken, and newspapers cartoonists). I put myself on the Committee of this Book Fair earlier in the year, something I have been meaning to do for the past five years, but with babies haven’t felt able to give any time. This year I could give some time, but not nearly enough! What my husband and I did do, though, was offer to sponsor an author, in the hope that our sponsorship could help make the Book Fair a more memorable one. A result of this is that Sonya Hartnett, an author that is a personal favourite of mine, is going to be speaking in my shop. There are several other sessions being held at Blarney Books, and, perhaps needless to say, the weekend is looking exciting!
The launch of our Biblio-Art Awards exhibition is on the Saturday night of this Book Fair. We are making it open to everyone, and have specifically invited each of the artists to attend. We are putting on champagne and nibbles, and will be announcing the award winners at this time ($1000 first prize, $250 people’s choice). We have a judging panel which does not include ourselves, but does include friends who have owned an art gallery for a good 15-20 years, and an art historian! (At least our judges have credentials!)
We will also be launching the online exhibition over the weekend as well, so for all those who cannot make it to town will not miss out! We can’t wait to show everyone what has come of this competition! As the interest has been substantial and we have had a lot of extremely positive feedback, we plan to run this event annually. Financially, I doubt we’ll come out ahead this year, but personally this has had incredible rewards. Check our website next weekend to read all about it!