Why enter A&S Displays/Competitions?

I often encourage artisans to enter A&S competitions and displays. When asking most artisans if they plan to enter the competition or display at an event, they often reply, "why should I?", or "I don't think this project is good enough."  Remember, we artisans are our own worst critics. You may see the little flaws, but others see the beauty and value of your work, so please enter your arts and sciences! Many people assume if they enter the competition they need to be in it to win it, yet most artisans aren’t competitive in nature. When asked my fellow artisans agree that winning isn’t really the point of an arts and sciences competition.


When I was first asked to enter a competition, many years ago, it was because I had not yet realized our use of the word competition is a bit of a misnomer. The reason I enter competitions now is to share my work, knowledge, and to get feedback (both from judges and others who see my entry throughout the event). The point of our competitions and displays is sharing; sharing our work, our joy in our art, and our knowledge.

I have organized a number of arts and sciences competitions over the years and I am always inspired in some way be every entry. I may not make a beautiful late period embroidered purse like Lady Edith’s, but I am certainly inspired by it to make really beautiful and functional items. I probably won’t take up calligraphy after seeing Mistress Genvieve’s oak gall making experiment at Yule Ball, but it provided ideas of more ways I can experiment with my natural dyes.

Finding the time to write your documentation can also be a challenge when considering entering a competition. For those who keep a website or a blog, this time can serve two purposes, as it can be posted online as well as provided as documentation for your entry. This is a great way to share what you have learned with others. Often times we find new exciting techniques and do so much research into the technique that we forget other artisans may not have come across this technique. Even if you don’t think the technique/inspiration you are currently using is new to most people, it may well be new to some people. Competitions are an important opportunity to share our knowledge with a lot of people. I know I rarely ever to get to talk to everyone at an event, but putting your work on display can reach every event attendee.


When you truly don’t have time to fully write up your documentation, you can always put it out as a display only piece.  Display items can also still be in progress. I have found some of the most interesting display items are still in progress. I like seeing how other people do things, so it is great to see their beautiful work and how they create that work! We all have many things to do in our lives, so it is great to have an opportunity to participate in an A&S Display knowing you don’t have to set an arbitrary deadline for the project to do so.

I hope this article has inspired you to participate in the next A&S competition or  display. For those of you who are thinking your work is not good enough to put on display, it is good enough! Remember A & S stands for arts and sciences. All art is beautiful, interesting, and inspiring! I can honestly say, I have never seen an A&S project done in these Isles that is not good enough to enter in a competition or display. Our artisans are amazing and I hope more of you will promote the Arts and Sciences by putting a bit of your work on display!