Artshuttle: How I became a collector – part 2

Living in Holland in the early 1970’s was a vast improvement over the UK, no doubt about it. Good as it was though, my plans didn’t include a career as an emigre factory worker, so I decided to save some cash and head to Australia.

After a harrowing journey back to the UK from Sicily, I moved over to west Wales and kept on with the bracelet making, selling them at whatever markets I could find. 

For a while things were fine, but as summer tapered off, tourists numbers declined and with it, my income. Britain had just entered Europe’s ‘Common Market’ that year so I headed over to Holland to see what I could do over there. Jobs were plentiful and BVS found me work right away at the Continental Can plant in Oss. My job was to keep an eye on the machine that sprayed the anti-corrosion plastic inside the Coke cans – an important step in preventing the Coke from eating the can away from the inside.

Living in Holland in the early 1970’s was a vast improvement over the UK, no doubt about it. Good as it was though, my plans didn’t include a career as an emigre factory worker, so I decided to save some cash and head to Australia. On a weekend in Amsterdam, I ran into a guy outside the American Express office who had an airline ticket for sale – not a ticket to Australia, but a ticket to Montreal. Figuring I could cross Canada, hitch down to LA and get a freighter to OZ from there, I bought his ticket.

Hitching from Quebec to BC only took 3 days, thanks to getting a ride in an MGB from Ontario to Vancouver. I had friends from Nanaimo I’d met in Sicily, so I took the ferry over to the Island and moved into their place.  After finding work so easily in Holland, I was astonished to find that I couldn’t ‘officially’ get work in Canada – so in order to feed myself, started making bracelets again.

Compared to the UK and Italy, where I sold the bracelets for just a few quid/lira, Canadians were up for dropping $24 apiece, so things started looking up financially. Moving to Victoria later that year, I became part of the craft revival movement, joining Yetta Lees’s Circle Craft Co-op at Open Space on lower Fort street.
I tried to make every bracelet design one-of-a-kind, so producing about 60 pieces a month took a lot of effort. I studied design manuals constantly and started producing my own interpretations of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, culminating with Mucha’s book on designing with a hinged mirror – a technique that revealed the rule of the ‘whiplash’ art nouveau line. I was beginning my journey not to Australia, but to the elements of style.

-Larry

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