Monday, September 14, 2020

Aussie craft show moves to Facebook to help seniors beat the pandemic blues: reflections on the importance of older people


As will be clear from this blog, we are all doing our best to adjust to covid blues. This photo shows Melbourne's Picture to Page Papercraft Show in better days. 

Refusing to become yet another cancelled event, the annual event is  moving online, running a free three-day event on Facebook to help older Australians beat loneliness and stay in touch with the crafting community during the pandemic. 

Creative director and host Michelle Brown invites Australians to join her and a bevy of talented craft retailers and guest artists for a free weekend of live interactive video demonstrations on Facebook.

 Running from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 October, Michelle will chat with local and overseas guests as they share projects and explore new craft supplies for scrapbooking, art journaling, card making, stamping and much more. Usually, more than 2,000 dedicated crafters from across Australia head to Melbourne's Sandown Raceway each October to attend the three-day craft expo. 

“This year, we're running the entire expo on Facebook and making it free, to make it as easy as possible for Australians to attend,” Michelle says. “Many people are living alone and struggling to find enthusiasm during the lockdown, so we hope bringing engaging demonstrations to them in their own homes can inspire them to start crafting again.” 

“With most of our crafting community aged over 65, many with chronic health conditions who are forced to stay at home during the pandemic, maintaining a connection to crafting online is more important than ever." 

The online expo is built on the back of Michelle's successful Facebook and YouTube video series 'P2PCrafts Presents', with her team refining the approach to help technology-challenged craft retailers reach new audiences. 

"Our vibrant crafting community tells us how our online videos have brought them a much-needed spark of joy during the lockdown, so we're really excited to bring the From Picture to Page expo to Facebook so we can share it with all of Australia," Michelle told me.

Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting in the sunroom looking out over the bush while stitching ribbon and lace on a 1900s blouse. Bronwyn Parry

As I read Michelle's material, I reflected on an earlier post, Saturday morning musings - problems with the rigid application of Australian covid-19 restrictions

One of the underlying points in that post was the importance of recognising the fundamental contribution of older people to our social and cultural infrastructure, of recognising and respecting their sense of agency. Too much today we present them as potential victims.

There is also a tendency to write down craft, to classify it as basketwork for the elderly. This holds notwithstanding the importance of the English arts and crafts movement, to take just one example.     

I am not sure that I should classify Bronwyn Parry as an older person. After all, I resent the tag and I am a fair bit older than her. But I do want to use her to make a point. 

I first met Bronwyn in my early days of blogging when she was a mature age postgrad at the University if New England. Her partner Gordon had a photo blog that became one of my favourite sources. I followed Bronwyn through the draft of het first romantic novel and her subsequent success as a novelist. But that's only a small part.     

This is the Hillgrove Museum where Bronwyn is currently recruiting and training volunteers to allow the museum to re-open. 

As a Jane Austin aficionado, Bronwyn is love with historical clothing, making and wearing. This is a craft activity, but one that feeds into history, into reenactment and the love of social activity.

As part of her activities, Bronwyn is active in supporting the Armidale Folk Museum. She sometimes works as a volunteer when the museum is open. More importantly. she works to build the museum's collection of historic clothing, She restores clothing, she researches historical structure and use of clothing, she mounts exhibits of clothing. And she educates me all the time!

I have some claim to be an historian, but in attending an opening at the Armidale Folk Museum I learned more from Bronwyn about women's clothing over the last two hundred years than I had in all my years. 

I mention all this because it explains why I am happy to promote Melbourne's Picture to Page Papercraft Show and its move to Facebook. You can find out more here.

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