Conference Director - Collene Kalb

It was my pleasure to organise the 1st Australian MAPs Conference, in 2002, where we had eleven days of excellent tutoring and fun, with lettering, background papers and books.

I cannot express enough gratitude to three very excellent tutors: Cecilia Sharpley, Diane Ting, and Karen Ter Haar, who generously gave more, much more, than was demanded of them.

It was apparent from the first conception of the idea of having a Conference here in Australia (along the lines of those International Conferences run in the USA), that it would take a lot of time: a budget that we did not have; participants to fill those 124 places on offer; and resources to make it a very special experience for those who attended. It grew from four days (these were booked out, as soon as I announced it), so then I asked the MAPs Team if I may extend it to seven days, only to find that those extra days also filled within two weeks. I next asked the team if I may repeat a couple of the workshops to accommodate emails that were coming in asking for a spot in a particular workshop: all the time the phone was constantly ringing, to find out if they (the person on the phone) could be booked into the lot. Yes, that’s right, nearly everyone wanted to do them all, and this was all happening in the space of about three weeks, which is why it was extended to eleven days.

Even then I still had a waiting list, with one particular student taking two weeks off work, telling me that she was on standby with her bag, papers, pens, etc, at the front door, ready to leave within twenty minutes. I only had to phone her if/when someone was sick or could NOT MAKE it on the day. They came from South Australia, New Zealand, out west, Sydney, Leura, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, and the Hunter Valley, which I guess is saying in a big way that WE NEED more events like this. So many were willing to travel long distances to learn new techniques, lettering, and sharing, a total calligraphic experience. Many of these people are so isolated that they have been starved for any tutoring - just wanting to exchange ideas with other calligraphers. Australia is so vast, with huge distances between guilds, that it is hard sometimes to meet two or three, let alone forty at one time.

From the outset I realised that I would have to do some begging to obtain the necessary items: papers, paints, pens, products, catalogues, inks, pens, etc, that we needed to experiment with in the workshops. I had an idea to make some goodie bags (we did not have a budget to purchase them), and my Mum volunteered to sew them. I borrowed a Gocco Printer to put the logo on to those goodie bags, and gathered a team of volunteers to help in any way that was necessary. Thanks Margaret, Allan, Kaye, Pat, Val, Myrna, Peggy and Bev who did whatever was necessary, from billeting to feeding us each day, with other stuff thrown in along the way. I made some aprons, and the sale of these helped with the costs accumulating so far. Then we had to fill those goodie bags. I wanted them to be of a calligraphic nature, so I sent out a few begging letters; firstly to Cyberscribe friends, who very generously gave me whatever was asked. Some gave me lots of extras, and I thank each and every one of you for your generosity. I can’t express the pleasure that those little squares, rounds, shapes, and small works of art gave to so many. I honestly wish that you could have been here to see the expressions on the faces of everyone as they were presented with their bags. The joy was fantastic, as each face lit up with a beaming smile.

The generosity of the sponsors (again words of thanks don’t seem enough) was amazing; each one unhesitatingly gave us so many products to try, with participants exclaiming that they could not believe the quantity and quality of the items that were in them. One student said “Gosh, this is worth more than the cost of the workshops”...they were filled with so much. So please do go and look at ‘Ace’ Cecilia’s new addition to her site, and go to the sponsors’ page, click on the names and check them out, as each link takes you to their sites where you can see ALL the products made by them.

The tutors made folders for each participant in every workshop, together with a name tag. That was no mean undertaking with so many, but they did it cheerfully. In fact I then had the idea of involving as many calligraphers, artists, etc with the Mail Art Competition, and as the entries came in I asked the MAPs team for a certificate to give out to the winners. ‘Ace’ Cecilia then put together Di Ting’s little squares as a border, and the certificates were done. We also added a participant's certificate, much to the delight of those attending - a little something extra that made this so special an event.

The only flaw in the whole eleven days was my falling ill (much to my disgust), for on that very morning (coming up from Sydney specially to meet me, and watch a demonstration of Suminagashi Marbling by ‘Ace’ Cecilia Sharpley), was Deborah Segaert, Editor of the Australian Paper Arts Magazine. Deborah also wanted to see some of the Mail Art, as she was intrigued with this as a different media topic for her magazine. She was also able to see some of the finished pieces from the various workshops. Deborah was so impressed with the organization, finished pieces, and the Marbling being done on the day (and of course ‘Ace’, and her prowess with the brushes and ink), that she immediately clicked away and said that she would put another article together on the Conference as well as the Suminagashi Marbling in the NEXT issue out on September 5, 2002. (All this while I was lying in total collapse in bed waiting for the doctor to arrive: I always miss the best bits!

In conclusion, I wish to thank everyone that helped in their own special way, everyone who gave me your art to put into the treasure boxes and everyone who participated. To the NewLake Quills team, without whose generous support I could not have even attempted this huge undertaking; the sponsors; my Mum; and of course, the MAPs team of ‘Ace’ Cecilia Sharpley, Diane Ting, and Karen Ter Haar, whom I would unhesitatingly recommend to anyone wanting a very talented team to take on ANY CALLIGRAPHIC UNDERTAKING - for yes folks, these three are special. They can and do collectively know and can teach it all. Of course if you want the MAPs team you must also take ME as their agent and publicity person.. (grin).. only joshing - but they can be ready to go anywhere in the world anytime - all you have to do is ask.

Many of the participants expressed to me at the end of the conference or during the dinner and demonstrations on the Saturday night that the conference was the best calligraphic event they had ever attended. From the start they were made to feel welcome and part of the team for each and every workshop. I had to promise to keep them on the database for any future events and workshops that The NewLake Quills might run - a humbling experience. Finally I must thank our resident photographer, my husband Bill, who welcomed everyone into his home, plied them with some of his collection of wine, took photos each and every day, looked after his sick wife, entertained us all, and supplied wine to the dinner, and not a murmur or grumble did he make.

Thanks darling for your support always.
Hugs, Collene Kalb
Conference Director 1st Australian MAPs Conference 2002
Warners Bay
City of Lake Macquarie, NSW,
Australia 2282