my brush with fame
In the nineties I used to sell my hooked rugs at the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival. At that time it was a soiree. Folk artists would gather from all over Nova Scotia and for four hours on a Sunday afternoon we would sell our wares. For many consecutive summers I sold my whole winters work at the festival in a few hours.
We would drive down in the morning set up my booth and people from all over the world who summered Nova Scotia's south shore would scramble in and buy up the folk art. People would take the tag, pay for the art, then come back and pick it up at 4:00 so everyone got a chance to see what was on display. By two thirty or three the crowd had thinned out and most of the art was sold. It was an amazing experience.
It was was run by this couple Pat and Robin who were kind and charming, and relaxed. They were helped by many locals including my friend Doris Eaton and her husband Ron. Pat and Robin and their board made the rules and it was all over at 5pm on Sunday and then they dragged out cases of beer and a box of wine and some chips. It was really something in those days.
I would stand before my rugs and people would take the tags and go pay Pat. The volunteers did it completely for the artists. The society took very little. They wanted to showcase our art. It was always interesting to see who came each year. There would always be someone well known or famous in a crowd of lots of interesting people.
Writers, though, in Canada at least, are often not so famous that we recognize them. So lovely for them really. They can sell a million books, and mostly just walk around unnoticed. At that time my favourite author was Brian Moore, an older Irish writer. I had read many of his books and had been moved by them.
One day at the festival the crowd had thinned out and I was standing before my work, most of which was sold so I was just waiting really. Along comes this older gentleman in dark pants and blue sweater and he just stands there in front of my rugs for five minutes with his hand on his chin and his index fingers over his lip and stares at my rugs. I knew who it was. It was my favourite author. It was Brian Moore, standing there looking at my rugs.
All I did was nod my head, tilt my chin and make quick eye contact. I stayed quiet. I was a combination of being too shy, and not wanting to bother him, you know. I never told him I had read so many of his books, or that I admired his writing. I was just happy that he was interested enough in my rugs to stay still before them for about five minutes. Then a pretty colourfully dressed woman came. They chatted for a moment and went off. And that was it. I never spoke.
This morning that memory came back to me as I got ready for my day. At first I thought, now I would speak to him easily. And I could, yes, I could. But still I might not. Because I liked watching him be a bit transfixed by these rugs that make with my own two hands. In some ways it might be a better memory, to think of an artist you like being interested in your work.
I think he would have been surprised though to hear that the young rug hooker held him in such esteem and had read so many of his books. Still it would have just been a few words, neither, here nor there. Instead I have this picture of him in my head looking at my rugs so deeply. And that still gives me confidence, that indeed, I am doing something worth seeing.
- Deanne Fitzpatrick
Merci ! Very interesting …