Oh my ears and whiskers….

……no time no time!

I am so time poor at this point I’m typing so fast it makes my fingers zing.  The amount of time I haven’t got on the run up to Miniatura has, on previous occasions made me feel physically sick and once or twice I’ve had to sit myself down and give myself a good talking to.

The other half is no help, his chant of ‘why do you do this to yourself?’ has worn a little thin over the years and is about as helpful as my mother’s remark, the day I set off to the hospital to give birth, ‘Oh dear Jane, all that pain!’

What has helped considerably is Midweek Miniatura.  It really has.

For more years than I can tell you, no actually I can, it was 17, I got myself ready for the Min but abandoned my own efforts a week before the show in order to prepare to report it.  I am the longest serving journalist reporting the world’s biggest miniature art show and the way I did it from the off was by research and planning.  Ten years ago I started to suffer from polymyalgia rheumatica, an auto immune disease that affected me in the hips, effectively paralysing me in the winter months.  Quite often this was at its worst from January to March and frequently just before Miniatura I couldn’t walk at all and could only get around the house by dragging myself round the furniture.  One of the joys this disease brings with it is a huge reaction to drugs (which is how I ended up in hospital last May with a suspected heart attack after taking one, prescribed, diuretic pill) which meant I couldn’t take the medicine for it.  I was aware that the prescription painkillers were having a knock-on effect on my stomach so I only took them so they kicked in just before the show.

The NEC halls are huge, like several football pitches stuck together.  They were designed to be big enough to drive lorries into and the floor surface has to be hard enough to do that, without damage to the floor or the superstructure.  There are several hundred artisans at each Miniatura show, all of whom have to be looked at to find the best stuff for the magazine for which you are reporting. Which means miles of walking on a very hard floor when quite often, the day before, I couldn’t walk at all. So I not only planned whom I would see in advance, I got the floor plan, just before the show and actually planned the route of walking. I always went to the stand, did the spiel (later I got wiser and told the artists in advance so they had things ready) produced my trays, loaded up, went to the photography suite, waited my turn, arranged the items and noted them, so I knew which were mine from the hundreds of items photographed, then returned them to the table and very occasionally got a chance to chat to my own customers.

Fortunately it’s a two day show and the photographers are only there on one day but it meant that I never got to see the visitors who came on Saturday.  I tried to make up for lost time on Sunday but by then the walking had got to me; when I got up on the Monday morning the heels and balls of my feet would be spherical, it sometimes used to take a week for them to go flat again.

Now with the joys of Midweek Miniatura I’m speaking to artists before the show.  This has been very revealing and very helpful.  I’ve discovered that everyone is in the same pickle as me.  I emailed an artist at midnight (when I finished working) and she read it when she got back from a walk, at midnight.  When I said in this week’s Midweek that no one has time to eat or sleep, it really is true.  It wasn’t just me working to a deadline, everyone else is the same.  I have heard of an artist who has just now, three weeks before the show, embarked on a major stand redesign.  Why?  Because the new items are beginning to come together in numbers and will need new space to show them.

Having done magazine writing for so long I believe that nothing gets done without a deadline.  Muriel Hopwood, creator of Miniatura once expressed the opinion that if there were a moment’s silence before the show opened you could hear the: ping ping ping of china fresh out of the kiln, cooling down.  I always thought it was a bit fanciful but given the number of artists I’m speaking to now before the show I couldn’t agree more, this is exactly how it is.

It makes me feel very much better about my own headlong rush to the countdown.  It’s nice to know not only that I’m not suffering alone but that this is, apparently, normal.  It is after all, a show.  There is no business like show business and there is no show without a build up of adrenaline.  The adrenaline produces the buzz.  Sometimes at the start of a really good show you know that if you licked your finger and stuck it up in the air, it would crackle and spark.

So despite, the pleadings of the N & D: why don’t you just stop and sit down and watch a nice television programme?; why don’t you stop working and have an early night?; why don’t you take a break and iron my jeans?   And, of course, particularly: why do you do this to yourself?  I now know to reply that I’m a Miniatura artisan and this is what we do and this is how we do it.


JaneLaverick.com – obsessive about miniature art.

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