Thursday, July 21, 2011

More on Murdoch: Blame the father... or the tree house...

In a Sunday Tlelegraph article, Michael Leapman profiled Rupert Murdoch and his upbringing by a stern father.

"Some 30 years ago I was strolling with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in the garden of Cruden, the old farmhouse near Melbourne where Rupert spent his childhood. Over lunch, she had given me useful material for my biography of her only son, the burgeoning media mogul who had recently bought The Times and The Sunday Times. We passed beneath a tree. "That," she said, pointing towards the branches, "was where Rupert had his sleepover."

She explained that his father, Sir Keith, himself a successful newspaper executive and a stern disciplinarian, had been worried that Rupert did not possess the required steel to follow in his footsteps. To toughen him up, Sir Keith insisted that, during the school holidays, he should, whatever the weather, be banished to the unheated tree house. This regime was imposed for eight years, until he turned 16."

Saturday, July 09, 2011

We made this - shedworking to beat the recession

At Artsmart in London, Shedman was interested to see Etsy promoting their online community of makers and sellers. One of their giveaways was the tea towel pictured above featuring a tree of sheds - an interesting image, suggesting growth, networking and the unique role of the shed for artists and craftspeople. At the bottom, the strapline: 'Stay handmade'.

Etsy describes itself as a global community 'with buyers and sellers coming from more than 150 countries. Etsy sellers number in the hundreds of thousands. Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.'

Their approach seems to be paying off. In May 2011, Etsy sold 2,006,810 items worth $40.0 million - a 75% increase on May 2010.

Shedman can't remember who said something like 'All a business needs is to make it and sell it', or that many successful businesses started off as a partnership between someone who could make the product and someone who could sell it. Etsy - and other sites like it - offer a way for makers to access their market globally through the partnership of an online salesperson.

Global distibution of Etsies if they were all glowworm
There's the thorny issue of quality here. One person's crafted birdhouse is another's lump of shed junk. But there's a democracy of demand here, and a refreshing lack of elitism. Many makers may have honed their talents and skills in the academy but the academy remains the training ground not the arbiter.

The number of Etsies who work in a shed must run into thousands, so in their honour Shedman has added an Etsy shed search to the sidebar. 

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sunburnt in the shed

Magnifying glasses and sunshine take Shedman back to cubs, primary school and burning holes in his sandals, hands and anything combustible. (The school was rebuilt.)

On sunny days over the last forty years or so, Roger Ackling has spent a lot of time in the shed, or just outside it, turning schoolboy fun into an artform. 'Down to Earth' is an exhibition of his sunburnt garden objects including forks, rakes, trowels and seed boxes at the Chelsea Space until July 30.

For our younger readers, please don't try this at home.