At Twelfth Night, a Kingdom Arts and Sciences competition was held, and I am proud to say that we had five entries, submitted in three different ways!
Entries were judged at the event itself, including one that was present as documentation and photos only due to last minute travel restrictions. They were also judged in advance in the Barony of Rowany and the Barony of Aneala. I am very pleased that the A&S officers of the Kingdom were able to facilitate these options, so that distance was not a barrier to any of our excellent artisans.
These A&S officers were Mistress Joie Tigre d’Argentona in Politarchopolis, Lord Minamoto no Hideaki in Rowany, and Lady Frances Affrica Ray in Aneala. They were assisted by the following judges: Baroness Caristiona nic Bheathain, Mistress Alexandra Hartshorne, Master Dede Kilic ibn Sungur, Mistress Branwen of Wercheavorde, and the Honorable Lord Lokki Rekkr.
And now, to the results!
In the Experienced category, the winner was Lady Marget Die Goldschmiedin, for three enameled fibulae, entered for the theme ‘Rome’.
In the Beginners category, the winner was Nobilis Gumuuinus De Eggafridacapella, for a wooden spoon carved with great attention to authenticity and documentation, entered for the theme ‘For the Home’.
A silver bell was also awarded to the runner-up in the Beginners category, Lady Shinjo Takame, for a Noren door curtain, entered for the theme ‘For the Home’.
As all three of these gentles entered by distance, I was unable to give them their prizes personally, and they were not present to hear the acclaim they received in court.
Therefore, I would ask you to congratulate them now, along with all entrants, the several judges who gave generously of their time, and the local A&S officers who made judging happen. Three cheers for all!
As members of the SCA we choose to make things for a variety of reasons. At some stage everyone in the SCA has to make something, unless they have infinite cash to spend on buying clothes, feast gear, tents, etc. OR some very kind friends. This post looks at why people make things and how we can understand someone else’s motivations and access to resources when we comment on their stuff.
I made a video about this, the content is also set out below if you prefer to read. Comments on these ideas are welcome.
A core aspect of why we make stuff is our intrinsic motivation. Results from the Kingdom A&S survey indicated that there were four reasons people made stuff:
Authenticity – I want to make the most period thing I can possibly make. Being as close to doing what “they” did (in a specific time and place) drives me to create
Workmanship – I want to make the BEST thing I can possibly make, and I will get the best tools and materials to do this. I will practice and practice and take my time until I am satisfied
Creative expression – I want to make the thing that fits my vision of how “they” looked and experienced the world. This can be based on research, but could also be based on a particular movie, TV series or book. It is usually where we all start when we join the SCA, and we could argue it’s the basis of “the Dream”.
Variety – I want to try all the things that interest me, until I’ve satisfied my curiosity in that area. I’ll usually have two of three projects in different skill sets going at any point in time. I get bored if I just do one specific thing.
These reasons can be described on a matrix as follows:
The reason this is important is that we are a group that welcomes anyone who makes “an attempt at pre-1600”. By understanding why someone has made something then we can help and encourage them in a way that means they continue to want to make things and to stay in our Society.
Access to resources is a very important element in A&S projects, and one that is often overlooked. Any project requires a balance of the following three things:
Access to $$ to fund the materials (or instruments in the case of music) and any missing knowledge
Access to time to make the item, write the research paper, practice the performance
Access to knowledge to understand how something was made and what is correct for the time and place someone is interested in
We all make choices about how much of our available time and money can go into each project or into acquiring more knowledge or better skills. Some of us have the ability to expend lots of time and money, some of us don’t. Some of us had a solid university education in a humanities subject and enjoy reading the latest research, some of us don’t and learn by tinkering and trying things out.
All of this is important to conversations about A&S, as it helps us realise that we don’t all start from the same place in terms of these resources, nor can we all allocate the same amount of those things to all projects. We make choices, and those choices are valid.
Now that we have a better understanding of motivations and resources I want to issue a challenge.
The number one reason someone stops “doing A&S” is because someone (usually someone they don’t know, or barely know) comes up to them unasked and tells them “that’s not period!”. I’m sure that the person providing this comment thinks it’s helpful and they mean well, however the effect is usually to make the recipient crumple or cranky.
My challenge is this: Let’s adopt the phrase “Unasked for criticism is discourteous”.
Unless a person says something like “What do you think?” or “How could I make this better?” then don’t tell them they are doing it wrong. Instead, if you really want to help that person start from the matrix above, and the list of resources. Understand why they made what they made and then ask if they want any help or more information.
Compliments are always good, btw. Compliments buoy people. We all want to feel proud of the thing we poured our precious time and resources into, so start there.
The Kingdom-wide survey of A&S opinions and activity showed that one of the areas we needed to improve was our Kingdom Competition format. It really isn’t working for most of the Kingdom. This can be seen by a simple comparison between the number of entries received at competitions and the dis-engagement around the process of entering and judging versus numbers and the energy surrounding artisan displays like the one held at Canterbury Faire or Laurel Prize at Rowany Festival.
Respondents gave specific reasons they didn’t enter competitions. A large number of responses said that they just couldn’t get to the events to enter, many said they found the topics too narrow and were only likely to enter something if they were already planning to make it. So this means that entrants are drawn from a very tiny set of people that are going to a specific Kingdom event AND were already making something that fit a competition topic. I don’t know about you but that seems unlikely and not the culture of Lochac.
Other respondents talked about how they didn’t feel good enough to enter, were intimidated by Kingdom level expectations, or even didn’t want to enter as they didn’t want to discourage other entries (in the case of Laurels). So, yet again, we have broad swathes of the populace feeling like competitions as designed are not for them. We are a Kingdom that likes to cheer people on for their efforts, their enthusiasm and for how they have improved. If our competitions are too intimidating for the populace then we should change them.
Finally there were some really good and sensible suggestions. Group entries, the Anealan rubric, a focus on feedback, improvement and being able to compare yourself across the Kingdom as the purpose of the competitions.
Introducing Lochac A&S competitions for the post AS50 era
Featuring: A new rubric! New forms! Group entries! Winners announced by experience not topic!
Judging allowed around the Kingdom, not just at Kingdom events!
Here’s our current Kingdom Minister for A&S explaining the changes:
What does this mean?!
The less exclamation pointed explanation is: From now on Kingdom competitions can be judged at any time in the Kingdom at any official SCA event, as long as it is supervised by the local A&S officer, the Kingdom Minister of A&S or someone they have deputised (like an A&S co-ordinator for an event). The beauty of a well-written, standardised rubric (how judging points are allocated) is that it should calibrate judging across the Kingdom. This means entries can be judged at disparate locations and achieve reasonably comparable scores. We are a large Kingdom and this means better access and more inclusive competitions. It means we can actually find outstanding artisans across the Kingdom and not just those who are able to travel to Kingdom events.
The way we award winners is changing too. Instead of a winner for a competition topic, we’re going to award winners for experience levels. This means that our beginners have a chance to shine, and our more experienced artisans can set themselves challenges without fear of tall poppy syndrome. The experience levels are explained on the rules page.
There’s now also a group entry category. The Kingdom was inspired by the Politarchopolis Pentathlon. Many people have spoken to me about how they like to work with others and would like our competitions to allow this. So now they do. Go forth collaborative artisans! Show us what you can make together!!
Want to know more?!
We’ve written some new pages for the website. Check out:
From the Guild of the Silver Rondel, Lochac’s Dance Guild:
We opened the Coronation feast on Saturday night with a performance by five members of the Guild of the Silver Rondel:
The musicians were Lord Sympkin of the Moor playing hammered dulcimer, Lady Elena y Delyn playing harp, and Lady Katherine of Glastonbury, also playing harp. The dancers were Master William de Cameron and Mistress Katherina Weyssin.
We performed an improvised Canary before Their Majesties and the populace to begin the feast. The dancers had four solos each. William de Cameron got spontaneous applause from the crowd for his fourth solo – seguiti battuti at double speed, then fioretti and a capriola.
The musicians played beautifully – lovely sound, excellent tempo, and a delightful variety through a long dance (about 8 minutes).
The performance was very well received and was a great deal of fun to be part of. It was a wonderful opportunity to show some of the skill that exists within our guild to a wider audience.
The Excellent Mistress Anne, Lochac Hospitaller, has challenged the Kingdom to create memes to promote our game to non-SCAdians. These two caught my eye as being at the heart of why many artisans in Lochac find us and stick around.