Hello English language learners and friends of Blue Noun English Language School in Scotland! We’re all suntanned and cheered after our English Language School Perthshire took a day trip to Potfest at Scone Palace.
To be clear, our English language school is still closed due to Covid19 restrictions on international travel (come back soon English language learners – we miss you terribly). However, our current lack of course participants is not going to stop our core English language teaching team from heading off to an exciting cultural event – particularly a sunny one set in superb, historical gardens and chock full of artists to chat to.
Read on for a description of Potfest; find out who has extra money to spend – and who in our society is still missing after months of lockdown.
What is Potfest?
Potfest is a touring festival of ceramics.
“Over four weekends in summer, Potfest ceramic shows celebrate all things clay. Meet the artists, talk pots and buy directly from the makers. Set in four different locations, each show has its own unique charm, style and energy”.
Why is an English language school at a ceramics festival?
We’re a non-traditional English language School in Perthshire. (It’s more of a language learning hub than a ‘school’). We specialising in English language training for international art and design professionals in small groups of up to 4 language guests at a time.
Potfest is right up our street. We offer ‘Meet the Makers‘ English immersion experiences on all our courses – taking English language learners from all kinds of creative professions to meet artists in their studios, visit galleries and shows. Our language learners are even invited into workshops with our artist partners.
What are specific English language skills for artists and designers?
Artists and designers need English language skills to communicate perfectly about all aspects of their own creative practice. They need culture-sensitive language skills of collaboration and idea-sharing. Artists and designers need to be able to describe how they use different media and processes and they need to be able to talk shop on a variety of art and design-related subjects. They might also need traditional ‘business’ English language skills in making booking, negotiating, telephone/zoom calls and making presentations – after all, these days most creative professionals market and PA themselves.
Arguably, creative professionals also need a deep knowledge of the culture they are working and collaborating in. Our English language lessons touch on sociology, local politics, national politics, Scottish history and discuss a wide cross-section of excellent Scottish culture. Artists are generally curious people, and we fill our courses with interesting, professionally-relevant course content to make language learning engaging.
Traditional adult language schools have a very out of date model, particularly badly adapted to so called ‘left-brainers’ who best learn through engaging with situations.
Why would a creative professional English learner choose to learn in a soulless classroom? Visit our English language school Perthshire and chat all things art and design for a week in a friendly, cosy English language hub (where loads of stuff happens). Have real-life professional, creative experiences designed to develop creative industry relevant language skills as we replicate different professional contexts in situ.
Additionally, rub shoulders with the art professionals in your group – and learn from them about their own profession and creative culture. Meet our community of Perthshire artists and experts and learn about contemporary Scottish art and culture in the process.
Find out more on our activities page here.
Potfest at Scone Palace, 2021
This year’s Potfest at Scone Palace had perfect timing. Scotland is once more emerging from a Covid19 lockdown. Infection rates are receding, vaccination rates increasing and as a nation, there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.
In the meantime, there is still a myriad of small rules and imperfect fixes cemented across everything – designed to keep us safe but in the process, creating a peculiar and cautious landscape that needs to be navigated very differently.
The Healing Powers of Art
As a culture-starved nation, an arts festival in the sunshine felt as welcome as a drink of water in a desert: the elixir we have been waiting for. A large part of the public was out in force, spending money in their pockets and looking to secure themselves a wee treat to compensate for recent, miserable times. Every seller I spoke to was reporting great sales and a bumper Potfest.
Covid19 has highlighted our nation’s inequalities in many ways – most obviously in the link between poverty and poor physical health – which as a ‘wealthy nation’ shames our systems.
One notable fact of the pandemic is that the poorest have mostly got poorer whilst those on better incomes have seen expenses fall without any loss of earnings. A percentage of our population has money in their pockets that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain its spread have caused both household income and spending to drop very sharply.”
“Workers who were furloughed and self-employed people were most likely to have experienced a reduction in income. Only a small number of those remaining in employment saw their earnings fall.”
“In contrast, most households, regardless of employment status, reported that they had reduced their spending (Chart A).”
“As a result, some households — those whose income had not changed but whose spending had fallen — would have seen their savings rise, leading to an improved financial situation. An important determinant of the shape of the recovery will be if, and when, these households choose to spend these savings.”
Bank of England review: How has Covid-19 affected the finances of UK households?
Potfest united an event-starved art audience (with savings) with ceramicists who have had little opportunity to sell their artwork for several months.
Who or what was missing?
Well of course our international language learners and friends were for a start: no one can travel to Scotland without risking severe travel disruption. Although Potfest was busy, it was busy with British people. For all businesses linked to international tourism, such as ours, international clients are sorely missed. At our English language school Perthshire, we look on in limbo while other businesses gear up to serve a summer-hungry all-British tourist clientele. Britain is a lot less interesting without its international visitors journeying around it.
You could argue that people who can’t afford pots were also missing – or people without the entrance fee – or the transport to arrive. This is true, but Potfest is a commercial art fair: a gamble for exhibitors who pay in advance for their pitch. I celebrate every success they had. It is much needed after a low earning year: every sale ensures future art productions and I was happy to see such a busy art market, spectators with packages tucked under their arms.
Additionally, anyone who managed to get to Potfest got great value for the £7 ticket – access to beautiful artworks and an all-day access to the magnificent Scone Palace gardens.
Our Invisible Community Members
The people missing are the people in our society living with crippling mental health problems. The last year has marked us all – collectively and individually, but for people with mental health difficulties, the last year has been alienating and appalling in the extreme.
It is a lot harder to transition back into this ‘normal’ landscape after being excluded by society for a year: counselling and therapies postponed or abandoned mid-treatment. Care services and support networks abruptly and scarily unavailable.
People living with anxiety have a new reason to fear every touch, interaction and public outing. For some, going back near crowds has become nearly impossible.
To its immense credit, the Potfest visitors website information gives a good nod to this.
“Because of the continued uncertainty of Covid19 all of this year’s shows will run with the same precautions in place as last year. When stepping under the canvas of the marquees visitors will be asked to please put on a face covering, observe social distancing where possible and be patient, kind and considerate to other visitors. Please remember their fears and anxieties may not mirror your own.”
Thank you, Potfest exhibitors!
Potfest and its exhibitors need to be commended on their friendliness through masks -for everyone we spoke to made time to tell us a little about their work and seemed very happy to do so.
Don’t underestimate what effort this takes. Artists are not necessarily gregarious and sociable – and also may have their own issues with social anxiety, mask-wearing and crowds – as well as other mental health problems which are prevalent amongst creatives.
It’s quite a leap to go from working alone in a private home/studio spaces – to being on show – not just your work – but you yourself – and with your shirt riding on it.
Our English language school Perthshire gives tips for language learners
As a craftsperson being able to sell and promote your work is almost essential, certainly when you are starting out. There are many aspects to these skills, including mingling and small talk – and social anxiety can destroy a career.
Presenting yourself in a second language is even harder still. If you need to do this, practice, practice, practice your presentation language until certain sentences are completely automatic. Ask people around you what questions you might expect to receive and don’t be shy about asking people to repeat the question or explain what they mean.
More about Potfest
Potfest have an excellent website, including a gallery of exhibitors – find it here
More about social anxiety and help available
There’s a lot of good, free information about coping with anxiety available on the internet – including all different social media platforms, some like Clubhouse offer groups for folks needing to talk. Follow people on Twitter who give good advice or share their anxiety battles. Philippa Perry for example. Twitter can be a mean space – but if you only follow kind people you don’t need to see the bad side. It can be a surprisingly intimate space.
Check out the UK’s Mind website as a starting point to find the service and advice you need. There’s still a lot of inequality about mental health services and advice across the globe – especially for men.
Reach out if you need help – and jump culture and use British health care online resources if your own culture has not yet invested in this topic.
“We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding”
Find out more here
Arts Minds is a mental health resource hub for people in creative industries and most specifically performing arts, including music, dance, TV, theatre and modelling. They support people in creative industries who are dealing with emotional stress and mental health challenges.
“Interestingly, although 1178 respondents said mental health problems had impacted on their career to a greater or lesser extent, nearly 85% of respondents had worked within the past six months, going some way to bust the myth that people with mental health issues are unemployable. In fact we all probably work with someone with a mental illness.”
Arts Minds website
Find out more here.
Thank you for reading about our English language School Perthshire visiting Potfest at Scone Palace.
We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. There’s something for everyone.
Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:
“What do you do?”
It’s an innocent enough question, but it’s a good idea to get your answer word perfect as it’s a common question in many social and formal settings.
Practice here! As usual, write as much as you like in the comments – and if you would like us to check & correct your English, write CP (correct please) at the end.
Live language learning!