Lily and RosieHere I am wearing one of my creations, holding my sister’s beautiful creation. If I had known I was being papped I would have smiled. I’m having a very bad photo day: there’s not much more ignominious than getting your photo taken in the chemist. I don’t know why I do it: always appalling results.

This top is the first piece of clothing I’ve crocheted for myself. It was not difficult but some aspects of the pattern were a little difficult to follow. I didn’t get much assistance from Rowan Yarn when I asked them, so the edges turned out quite wonky hence the belt. You can get all the details from my project on Ravelry. including yarn and links to where you can buy the pattern. You can also see how it turned out for other hookers.

In this picture we’re in the café of the Royal Hibernian Academy. We were there to check out VUE, the annual art fair. It was amazing to be able to see the work of so many different artists curated by so many different gallery owners. I understand that this exhibition previously took place in the RDS but the RHA strikes me as a much more pleasant venue. We were there to support my common law brother John O’Reilly and my actual brother Blaise Smith of course but I have to say I was totally smitten as usual by Patrick Redmond’s work.

VUE is finished up but I would recommend a visit to the RHA just off Stephen’s Green where there is always someting inspirational to see in a beautiful space.

Social Media pays

Well it pays me anyway! I was delighted when I got up (really early) on Sunday morning to write a post for the Dublin Community Blog to discover that I had won a family ticket to see Karramato from the Czech Republic who are performing as part of the 2009 International Puppet Festival Ireland.

The thing is when I got the message first about winning, I thought there must be a mistake, as I hadn’t entered a competition. I had started following @puppetfest because I thought it might be a fun festival for the nippers. I also fanned them on Facebook because for starters I know how difficult it can be to get enough fans to get your vanity URL but also because the way I digest info on Facebook is different to how I get it from Twitter and sometimes one suits me better than the other. Anyway it turns out that they chose a random follower/fan from the hat as a winner and it was me!

When I told the nippers about our luck even Nipper 2.0 knew exactly what I was talking about. Every Christmas they get brought to the Lambert Puppet Theatre with their cousins and grandparents as a special treat. So we’re all excited!

But the Puppet Festival is not just for kids! During my undergraduate years I worked on a large production called Gilgamesh – the Epic (or Gilgamess as we called it!) which featured puppets of all sizes so I know the skill involved in creating a production like this. I worked on the “costumes” and my job included the ignominy of having to “dress” the puppets onstage during a transformational scene. I also studied non-Western Theatre during this time and many non-Western theatre forms include or solely comprise puppetry. Joyce, Brecht and Beckett were partly inspired in some of their theories about theatre by their exposure to theatre forms like this where the actor was exposed or removed. What I’m saying is these heavyweights took puppetry dead seriously so should you! Anyone who has seen a Punch & Judy show will know that even this simplest form of puppetry allows the performer freedoms that they might not enjoy as an actor on a stage.

So check out the programme and try something completely different this weekend!

Naming or shaming?

Further to my previous post about payment for creative works INDISTR have developed their own model for purchasing music.

Artists can continue to upload music and bundle into albums as they have in the past on INDISTR, but now they’ll have a new option when setting the price they want to charge for the album: letting the public decide. Their fans and supporters can name the price they’d like to pay for the album right on the artist’s page and then checkout as they normally would. Fans and supporters are even shown the exact amount the artist will make from their purchase.

I wonder can the artists set a base price? Is the presence of the pittance the artist will receive from your measly EUR1.50 supposed to shame you into upping your price. Maybe bloggers etc. should start publicising how much they paid for creative content. Somebody should create a widget for it. Look at my bargains or Look how much lolly I can afford to spend on ephemera.

Now you can own your own short commercial break.

We7: Getting Closer to a Workable Model for Free Music Downloads – ReadWriteWeb: “The music industry is in desperate need of new models and an interesting one got some financial support today. We7 announced today that it’s raised $6 million from Peter Gabriel and Spark Ventures.

The UK site offers DRM-free MP3 downloads with super-short ads preceding each song – for the first 4 weeks after download. Once a month you can select 20 tracks to remove the ad clips from, any additional ad removal will cost 20 pence (about 39 cents) per song.”

It’s very complicated isn’t it? That seems to be the main issue with We7 in articles that I have read on and off. Personally I love LastFM but they are not getting the support that We7 seems to be enjoying. I get new music from Amie St. as well so my ears are being broadened, sometimes painfully!

(I started writing this a little while ago, lost my train of thought…)

Bheadh spéis agam cloisteáil céard a cheapann na ceoltóirí faoin gceann seo. Ó mo thaithí féin ag plé podchraoladh leis na ceoltóirí i mo chlann féin, ní miste leo má labhrann tú thar roinnt den amhrán, ag an mbun nó an mbarr mar shampla, mar bhealach éifeachtach chun é a chosaint. Cé nach ionann é dar liom taispeánann sé go bhfuil ceoltóirí oscailte a fhad is a bhfuil muinín acu ionat.

I recently read Nicholas Carr’s new book “The Big Switch” as I was participating as a panellist on Soiscéal Pháraic. At least a chapter of that book is concerned with how technologists and technology companies are making big bucks out of creatives who are using their platforms to share their ouevres (MySpace, Blogger (Google), YouTube etc.). In a way musicians are lucky that they have the likes of Paul McGuinness to fight their corner albeit in an entirely wrongheaded fashion. Writers, animators, artists, basically all other artists whose work can be digitised haven’t been able to make the switch to digital with the kind of support that music is getting, partly because there was never the same level of “hangers on” 😀 to support with their art. Brilliant to have that freedom in some ways but unless something is done to change the current model for delivery and consumption of creative digital work there will be a lot of poor AND lonely artists and writers out there. Well they can always make friends on Twitter, Facebook etc. Now I must ask my family to contribte their thoughts, them being neither poor nor lonely artists although I would say none of them would turn down a lotto win.

Day Job

If only I could be half as creative as GF (right) during this “downtime” I’d be doing well. I’ve just been invited to this exhibition “…scape” and very appropriately my friend GF has this piece in the exhibtion entitled Day Job. Appropriate because today is my first day as an officially unemployed person. Abs reckons that the fact that I had my letter printed today, even though I wrote it about a week ago, is a good omen. She is very positive

This morning I was in a place that I never thought I would see again: the driver testing centre on Orwell Road. Abs had her test so I had to be her fully licensed accompanying driver. Unfortunately she failed but it was her first time and for someone who’s only been driving since August she’s pretty good. I reckon she’ll get it next time. Nerves are an unpredictable quantity.

About six people took the test at the same time as her and only one of them passed. Those odds aren’t too good. No wonder there is such a long waiting list. It would be interesting to see how many re-tests are on the list at any one time. If 5 out of 6 people failed even one exam on the Leaving Cert the teaching methods, the curriculum and the exam would all be overhauled. There is something not right with this system and certainly you have to question the training if 5 out of 6 people can fail. And then drive away…