Thursday, 2 December 2010

Small Publishers Fair, London

Saturday 13 November I took a trip to the small publishers fair at Conway Hall, London WC1. 

This was my first visit to an established 'book fair' and I'm glad I went, as it will help me plan for BABE at Arnolfini next year.

Not only was it good to see my own work displayed on the stand alongside other artists work, but I got to see so many varied examples of work. And unlike visiting an exhibition, visitors to this show are encouraged and expected to pick up and look closely at the work. Hurrah!

 However, not all visitors have the same levels of enthusiasm!
The public comes with a certain focus though, they haven't just wandered in, they come with a kind of fierce intensity. Potentially - quite scary! But very good if they like your work.

It was very satisfying for me, the Faculty Librarian at the University for the Creative Arts wanted a copy of my Mudeford book for their collection. Doubly nice because it will go to the Farnham campus, which is where I did my first degree.

Nowadays, as well as the small publishers fair Conway Hall hosts a wide variety of lectures, classes, performances, meetings and community events. It maintains its reputation as a place for free speech and progressive thought, hosting speakers such as Salman Rushdie, Will Self, Tony Benn and Mary Robinson.

For over 100 years the Ethical Society had its centre at South Place in the City of London, but by the 1920's the society wanted a wider range of influence and decided to build a new home in Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury. 

The Ethical Society encouraged ideas about freedom in moral and spiritual life, and in thought, and at that time wanted a headquarters in the heart of London where thoughtful men & women could, - 'meet and enjoy the amenities of social discourse, with facilities for writing, rest and refreshment'. 

The building's interior reflects the seriousness of intent of those 1920's society members. Plans were prepared for - 'a dignified and commodious building, which it is hoped may become the Headquarters of the Ethical Movement in the British Isles, and also provide an open platform for speakers from any part of the world.'

The Conway Hall was opened in 1929 (brimming with civic pride) and has since that time has remained true to its original purpose.

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