My sister has an Art Gallery ~ Shop in the Island of Jersey. She sells only genuine local and regional art and products. The shop is called Rococo Art and Gifts.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio Jersey, my sister Chantal raised an interesting issue, which has actually been with we ‘aware touristico’s’ for a long time. Why do tourists want to buy local products?
There is of course the obvious ” wish you were here” sentiment of the postcard. Then the more serious thought of “by what will I remember this ‘quite-expensive-never-to-be-repeated-chance-of-a-life-time’ event. So many complex ideas may pass through the mind of a time strapped tourist.
The answer that springs to settle the anguish of the travelling mind is usually: LOCAL STUFF. ~ We are not really looking for exotic parrots with arabic and Andean languages on it’s CV to take home ‘en souvenir de’ our visit to Brighton. Not if we are honest. A real swirly stick of uneatable sticky stuff will do the trick. And I would suggest even more so framed rather than digested.
So where to from here? Well the “BUY LOCAL” is the way to go. Especially if the Jersey Cabbage stick, from my 2002 trip, sits nicely in my 12′ x 12′ studio alongside my ‘Malamu’ shepherds stick from my 1972 Lesotho adventure.
Many artists are finding their way out of the cities and unemployment and taking up the ‘career they should always have pursued’ and in so doing are making a suppliers market. Their ingenuity, creativity and volumes are literally making markets and creating a new potential “Souvenir” trade. As it were and as it used to be.
How many of us travel south to buy the Calissons of Aix en Provence or north for the Betises de Cambrai? Or West to Marina Grande for their pure cobalt designs on porcelain tiles and glorious flowing forms of hand-made glass. No. We are all too aware of our “Carbon Foot Print” although I still cannot find a souvenir shop with one for sale.
I think that the cost of petrol is passant in this issue. If you visit the sacred caves of the sangomas of Mautse Valley, who have been practising their cult and craft there since before the Israelites did the Nile Cruise, do you want to find plastic korean Dagga pipes in the souvenir shop? So, the enlightened everyone wants to take home a fragment of the real local energy that will remain with them forever. It’s part of our primitive “adventurer ~ no-one has been here before” ~ hunter-gatherer thing. Good for basic us.