A look at this year’s picture framing show in Australia
In many ways, the picture framing industry in Australia is similar to the picture framing industry in the US. And just like Americans, Australian framers enjoy the opportunity to convene with fellow framers at an industry trade show.
Of course, the Australian industry is smaller, because the population of Australia is only about 20 million (less than the state of Texas), so they have just one trade show every two years. The advantage of that? It is literally the only show to go to, and it attracts a significant turnout of Australian framers as well as those from New Zealand and other nations. It also means that all of the significant industry suppliers exhibit at the show.
This year was the first time the show was held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour, and the first time it was held in conjunction with PMA Australia’s Imaging Technology Show.
I have been fortunate to be part of the show since 1990, when the Australian Framers Association had a big convention in Melbourne. Kaye Evans and I taught three classes each per day for three days that year.
Education is still an important part of the show, and the classrooms were packed, as usual. Show promoter Frank Fillipone said, “Once again our show was greatly enhanced by a host of local and overseas visitors and educators. June Anderson, Jared Davis, Steward Harding, and Jim Miller taught at our show, and we had Vivian Kistler, who was once again the stalwart and backbone of the seminar component of the show.” (Thanks, Frank.) Missing faces? Brian Wolf and John Ranes, although John had an article in the Profile Magazine trade show issue.
The education was coordinated by Frank Filippone, the magazine publisher and show producer, with more than 20 programs covering picture framing and art. Large suppliers like All States Frames, Anton’s, Larson-Juhl, Champton, Marks & Co., and Megawood represented many products in the industry, including Bienfang, Peterboro, NielsenBainbridge, and Crescent. Complete lines of machinery including CMCs, printers, underpinners, and saws were displayed and operating on the trade show floor. All in all, it was a very busy trade show.
The show was also the site of Australia’s National Framing Competition. The competition image was a photograph titled “Eastern Yellow Robin” by well-known Australian framing educator June Andersen. There were a record number of competition entries, including more than the usual from New Zealand due to a special competition organized by Larson-Juhl New Zealand. The competition focused on design, with no restrictions on size or conservation.
A dedicated demonstration area on the show floor provided brief, free lectures and demonstrations that were popular. Pricing, business strategies, and understanding digital imaging were among the lecture topics presented in the area, which was surrounded by the competition pieces.
Exhibitors gave the attendees an opportunity to see new products, ask questions, and see framing equipment in action. Special pricing at the show gave framers an incentive to buy, and show promoters reminded potential buyers of another incentive. Like American framers, Australians are dealing with the global financial downturn, and the Australian government has likewise developed a stimulus package to help, including tax breaks on the purchase of new equipment, which may include picture-framing equipment.
The atmosphere at the show was upbeat and optimistic, and attendees seemed to agree that it gave them a boost. After show hours, nightly Sundowner Cocktail Parties hosted by PMA gave attendees a great opportunity to network with peers in a relaxed atmosphere. And lots of folks took advantage of that opportunity.