Tom on – Peer networking day at Toynbee Hall, London.

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Another really brilliant day meeting up with all the other participants. Now i know it would be emerging maker, Crafts Council suicide to say otherwise, but truly, i had such a good time..

A really hectic and yet enjoyable day. I went with the clear intention of properly meeting and introducing myself personally to all the other participants on the program. This turned out to be a little bit like speed dating, or “Speed Hothouse Maker Meeting” as I think I will call it.(Perhaps they should introduce this into next years program). However I still didn’t get round everyone, must finish it off next time.

The only slightly negative part of the day for me was that usually when I am in a beautiful historic building similar to that of Toynbee Hall for any particular event or reason, I can always seem to find the time to drift off and study the architecture and interior woodwork to consider its history, the techniques involved in its construction, inappropriate restorations and alterations etc.(What an exciting life I lead). But today there simply wasn’t time and rightly so. I’ll just have to go back one day.

In the morning session, Sarah Hewett, community programs manager from Etsy, gave us a great talk on topics including, selling our work online, images, pr and press. This was all really useful even for those among us who had never considered selling our work through an on-line platform.
I will have to read through the notes on this as unfortunately I had to leave for my slot of PHOTO-TAS-TIC TIME, with photographer Tas Kyprianou, “What a Dude”. He was such a hilarious and genuinely nice man, put me totally at ease.
Having never had a professional photo-shoot of myself with my work before I was expecting feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment and for the whole thing to ooze cheesiness with forced smiles and cringe-worthy Marks & Spencers poses. It was in fact the total opposite, so much so that by the end of the session I had even started directing him as to the weird shots I wanted taking. (They won’t use those ones). I even managed to convince him to photo-shop out the dodgy logo on the shirt I had borrowed that morning. (Didn’t really do shirts before Hothouse. Getting into them now, but not with dodgy logos)
So thanks Tas, It was incredible to be in such proficient hands.

In the afternoon session Anna Collette Hunt, participant on Hothouse 3, talked about her experience on the Mentoring and Buddying schemes. I personally found this extremely useful in terms of my own work and how I want the schemes to assist me with the intended direction I am currently concentrating on for my future practice.

Then it was !!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH !!!!!   ” Talking About The Work ”

We all had to stand up and talk about the work brought along by a fellow participant. I have found these exercises excruciatingly uncomfortable, but now through the pain and nervous embarrassment I have come to the realization that its all cool and fine, and that non of it really matters. I know that I am not a good public speaker, but why would I be, I have never done it before, and thus I am not practiced. The first time I ever made a piece of furniture I am sure it was pretty crap really, and this is no different.  So I have decided to be as open and honest in my professional practice as I am in my actual making. And just do it. Don’t over-think it and don’t worry about it. Then surely I will slowly improve through practice.

However it was truly great to see all the work everyone had brought in and to hear all the presentations. So well done everyone. And also, on top of everything we learned from the exercise, we also had the added benefit of COLLECTIVELY CAUSING LAUGHTER INDUCED FACILITATOR FACE ACHE!
(This, for those not there, is a good thing)

Then it was quickly outside for more “Photo-Tas-tic time”, for the Hothouse 5 official group photo. I cant wait to see the results when they come through…
So thanks to everyone involved in providing such a valuable experience, I had such a laugh, but also learned loads too.

Oh.. and I also forgot to mention lunch. (A seemingly popular part for discussion on the Hothouse experience so far).  Well to be honest I cant remember.  I was too busy shoving salad leaves into my mouth (attractive) as I walked around trying to do “Speed Hothouse Maker Meeting”. But I’m sure it was probably lovely….

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