I’ve been wondering what on earth to write about since 22/2/11 (note that the numbers are all 2’s and this was the second destructive quake...sorry, part of me leans towards superstition and fate). There has been a lot to absorb and some extraordinary feats of courage...and fundraising going on during this time.
I had lunch with a Christchurch friend today, temporarily exiled to Wellington until her work premises is made safe, who admired my NZ hearts ChCh tee shirt and said she’d buy one. I said she should be given an ‘I got out alive’ one for free. She said since she’s been in Wellington she’s been dragged along to every fundraiser and charity dinner and spent a fortune essentially donating to herself.
For myself, I’ve given to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, I’ve bought the tee shirt, I’ve sent care packages to friends to cheer them up, I’ve lent my car and house to evacuees (ok friends and relatives but still in need of a funk hole) and I have followed on facebook all the initiatives to raise money for Christchurch.
But I stopped short of donating my work to Trademe.
Why would I do this? After all, I have piles of it sitting around at home in boxes being eaten by silverfish.
The reason is this. In good times it’s very hard to get the public to buy art, unless you are a name artist and even then it’s not that simple. Trademe is littered with artworks; some good, some very good and some would be much better kept in the portaloo. For the good and very good artist there is nothing worse than seeing your passion sell for your $1 reserve and find it costs you more to ship it than you anticipated. There is a now a flood of fabulous work donated by fabulous artists and crafts people and managed by tireless co-ordinators for the Christchurch Appeal. You can buy anything nice for a bargain basement price. It’s like the $2 Shop but with talent and class. But there’s something about getting art really cheap. It is never appreciated in the same way as saving up your next three years disposable income for a Shane Cotton would be. I suspect that’s why the trade is a bit slow. Artworks I have given away to people often ends up in their batches, to rot with sea salt. They don't know what to do with it when it's free.
I have been an artist since I was a tiny little girl. I have never wanted to be anything else. The tiny mouse in the photo was one I made when I was 11. There was a fad for them in gift shops at the time and I cunningly sketched one whilst loitering and looking like a young shoplifter, then went home and made a pattern for it. I turned out my entire family in mice. My older sister was getting married, so I made a bride and groom set. My other sister was into tramping so I made one with a backpack, tramping boots and iceaxe, posed on a rock. My mother was a little cuddly matron mouse, crotcheting a rug (I fashioned a weeny one with a bent pin) and my father mouse was dressed in waders and holding a fly fishing rod. I gave them all as presents. Me of course, the artist mouse I kept, because I knew this was my future and nothing would make me happier than to live into it. None of my family still have theirs (note to whanau: feel free to contradict me here). I rest my case.
So, years later, still basically on the income of my prophetic little effigy, I won’t give my art away to help people; because it won’t raise nearly enough money for the very large hole left by the earthquake.
Neither will cutting benefits, subsidies and student allowances. And Prince William is darling, but is saving up for his wedding, so we can’t rely on the monarchy to bail us out.
No, I think the answer lies in Charlie Sheen; the man with Adonis DNA. We should invite him over. He could have a large, last party, and our wonderful student army could go in and shovel the excess cocaine off the porn star’s backs and sell it on. I think that would about cover it.