Monday 9 July 2018
The Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) seminar is a biennial event and has been held at Loughborough University for a number of years. I have visited many times over the years and can only say that I have thoroughly enjoyed each one. This year's event was different for me in that I was a demonstrator as well as a visitor. This puts a different perspective on the event for me.
I have always known what a logistical nightmare it is to put these seminars on. The organisers and helpers of the AWGB seminar work hard to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible for everyone attending. There were people who were available at all times to rectify, address and prevent issues from occurring, and as with any such event, the people helping were constantly busy.
An international line-up
As with most symposia, the event comprised a series of demonstrations from a mix of international demonstrators who specialise in different areas of turning, which hopefully ensures that there is something for everyone to see. There was the trade area and also an instant gallery, critique and banquet. Unlike many events, accommodation and meals – should the attendees wish for it – are available onsite. One can also opt to attend for a given day. All of these options are designed to make the seminar as accessible as possible and as such there are price points to suit every individual's requirements. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on some demonstrations and learned something in every one. I love seeing how people work and why they work in that particular way. We never stop learning and this is why seminars are such great events. It is often one of the few chances people can get to see demonstrators from further away, or other countries, without travelling far and wide.
I was able to see a demo by Simon Hope on how he makes his hand-made Scottish smallpipes. He was concentrating on the pipe making itself and the use of gun drills to drill them. The icing on the cake was that it was the last demo of the seminar and Simon played his pipes as we were leaving. Not only can he make them but he can play them as well! I think the event was a resounding success. The comments I have heard from people all echo that feeling. I gather the feedback forms have suggestions for the committee to work through and look at, but it seems that most people share my thoughts.
It is worth noting that the AWGB – as with any national organisation that puts on such events – faces some interesting challenges for the future. Namely keeping such events fresh with new ideas. Many clubs and areas hold very good demonstration days, evenings and masterclasses and bigger events too, so what makes a national seminar the must-go-to event? How can they make seminars even more accessible to people, while managing the costs of them? Price is something everyone looks at and is a big factor in this. The location of events is also a factor in whether people can attend as the hassle and cost of travel is ever increasing. This is, of course, another factor to weigh up. I am fortunate to be able to travel to many events as part of my job, and I also very much enjoy going to them.
I see the work and effort that goes into organising such events and it is something that is constant throughout the year, not just for part of it. I think this was an excellent event with something that would appeal to everyone, and I am sure that we will see this established seminar remain fresh and exciting. I am already looking forward to the next event, which will take place in 2015. To see the 'Top 50' pieces from the 2013 event, click here.