It is currently by far the largest gathering together of work for sale by crafters from throughout the islands that make up Orkney, and in fact has been so for the past 40 years. Orkney Arts and Crafts association Summer Exhibition & Sale in the Town Hall, Kirkwall, attracts thousands of visitors from many countries around the world. Some come on board the increasing number of cruise liners that call in to port here, but many are drawn to Orkney independently. No matter how they come, all are astonished by the sheer variety of crafts on offer from art to appliqué, pottery to pyrography and textiles to traditional crafts; there really is something to suit all tastes and budgets.
So how does this all come together for the six weeks which this year will span from Wednesday 18th June at 9am to 4pm on Thursday 24th July (excluding Sundays)………?
Well for many the process starts immediately after the last exhibition finishes as they analyse which products sold well and which perhaps needs tweaking or modifying. By late January, from North to South Ronaldsay, from Hoy to Stronsay and at all points in between, many crafters will be in the midst of their production cycle for the forthcoming season creating stock to sell. Whilst this is happening some of those very same crafters have volunteered to serve on the committee that puts it all together. Once the dates are fixed the advertising and promotion will be booked, then posters will be designed, next swing labels will be printed and distributed as every item of the many thousands that will be put in for sale has to be accounted for by the treasurer. Log sheets will be sent out for filling in so that daily tallies of items sold can be made. Checks will be made of display equipment and refurbishment/replacement/new purchases will be made as appropriate. The removal firm will be booked to transport all the equipment that has been in storage over the winter to the Town Hall. Plans will be drawn up for the layout within the Town Hall, which has involved up to 60 spaces being created. Floats for each of the days will be made up and the till will be checked. Two days before the exhibition opens as many members as can be encouraged to attend meet at 9am in what is then a very large, empty room. The removers arrive and display equipment is carried in and then has to be assembled and manoeuvred into place. Then the bare bones structures need to be covered with cloths and the portable display equipment placed where needed. By midday on day two the adjoining supper room in the Town Hall becomes the focus of activity as individual craft workers bring their items to be checked in by a member of the committee. Firstly the yearly membership fee must be paid otherwise they will not be allowed to exhibit. Then all the swing labels are checked against the log sheets and where entries are not done in numerical order or the information does not tally or is not clear enough, the crafter is asked to prepare a new sheet or label. Once their goods have been checked in, then they move through into the exhibition space and begin to arrange their display in the space allocated to them. This process occupies the rest of the afternoon until finally the hall is locked to await the grand opening at 9am the following day.
Once the exhibition has opened there is a need at the start of every day for floats to be put in the till, door money cash box and raffle money cash box, then displays need to be checked and tidied. Each crafter who is selling items has to take turns manning the till and being on duty in the hall for either a morning or an afternoon session on three occasions during the time the exhibition and sale is on. At the end of each day money is bagged ready for sorting and counting and swing labels of items sold are put into numerical order for each crafter. Once these are received by the treasurer, the log sheets and swing labels have to be tallied and then cross referenced to monies taken once it has been sorted and counted. Any anomalies need to be sorted out and money prepared for banking. Finally the daily spreadsheet is completed and then the next morning it all starts again.
So dont’ forget to put the dates in your diary, on your calendar, in your phone, tell your friends and guests, it really is worth a visit – see you there!
Orkney Arts and Crafts Association