Sunday, April 10, 2011

Railway modelling without the baggage ?

Baggage Wagon wuth trunk 1Last week I railed against the idea that what I discover is called "high art" gets loads of money in grants but "low art" like railway modelling and other types of creativity that are enjoyed by the masses, get none. The comments that followed were interesting and (for me) educational.

However this got me thinking. The problem is that for most people, the thought of doing something creative is an anathema. Years of being conditioned to sit and watch television or spend all day at work or ferrying the kids around (can't they go themselves or better still not have hundred of activities that take place miles away, or is it just to fill an adults empty life) means that the stock responses when shown a model by its proud creator are "Oh you must have a lot of patience, I couldn't do that." or "I wish I had the time for that sort of thing." Quite simply, people believe hobbies are for oddballs and not something that normal people do. Apart of course, from officially (because you can buy stuff labeled to say you can do it) sanctioned creativity such as making greetings cards - as if the world really needs any more !

So, what can I do about it ? I wonder if it is possible to run sessions where people make stuff. Trouble is, what I know how to make is railway models and therein lies a problem. You see to get people interested you can't do railways. There's too much baggage. Railway modellers are freaky weirdo trainspotter nerds who hang around at stations, smell horrible and probably fiddle with children. Who wants to be associated with them ?

And yet the hobby itself is great. I mean it is good if you are a freaky weirdo but even better for a normal human. If I was to try and teach whittling or some other stand-a-lone skill it's great but where do you go with it ? I look at wood turners and while impressed with the results, wonder how many wooden bowels or vases any household needs. Building a layout sees lots of skills used and a whole range of tasks to carry out.

So, the problem is, how to persuade a group of normal people to pay good money to sit down for a course in something. Could I get a grant for this ? How could we spread the word that is the joy of hobbies ?


Chairmain_Mike said...

I couldn't agree more. The message we need to get out to the popular and uninstructed world at large is the that of he transferability of the skills acquired in the hobby: Woodwork, electronics, soldering, painting etc. The other thing we have to do is convince the world that we're not all computer nerds that update our blogs at 6:55 on a Sunday morning!

Terry said...

You've lost me with your comment re 'sanctioned creativity'. What makes making greetings cards
'sanctioned' and railway modelling 'unsanctioned'? And 'sanctioned' by whom exactly? We model railways because that's the subject which interests us. Likewise, my wife makes greetings cards because that interests her and brings her into contact with likeminded people, just as our hobby does for us. And why would you seek to teach people to make anything if they are not interested? Much better to teach people in our hobby how to improve their skills. I ran a short course in my model railway club to teach members how to scratchbuild wagons and vans in plastikard. We all enjoyed it and everyone had nice models to show for it. If the great unwashed want to waste their lives watching television, then so be it. Anyway, must dash, there's a programme on the box I want to watch!



Michael Campbell said...

I don't think any house needs a wooden bowel ... :-)