I'm sad to belatedly witness the apparent demise of Maker Faire UK: an annual event for (mostly) amateur makers of all skill-levels that ran from the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

The Centre was always packed out for the Maker Faire, which attracted a huge range of people from all over the UK, and beyond. I was proud that this was taking place in my city. I always enjoyed attending the Faire, although it was often bitter-sweet: none of my own Making was of the kind of that you could show off at an exhibition like this. I often found myself wondering if I should try my hand at more physical hobbies.

The Centre for Life is remodelling itself this January, and as part of that project or planning, they seem to have decided that the Maker Faire was not a good fit for their new direction. They talk about opening a new space for "crafting, tinkering and creativity" within the Centre in the Spring, but I very much doubt it will attract the breadth and depth of talent that the Maker Faire did.

The decision was announced back in September, but they've already pulled the plug on the website hosting the announcement (https://makerfaireuk.com/), which was up so briefly it was not captured by either https://web.archive.org/ or https://archive.is. Their defunct twitter account points cryptically at this dead website with a final tweet of "We have posted important news about Maker Faire UK on the homepage of the website: https://makerfaireuk.com/".

At the last event in April, 2018, a friend from the Paper Jam Comics Collective demonstrated an incredible Lego Mindstorms-powered Comics drawing robot:

Other things that stuck out to me at the last Faire were some of the non-computer, non white-male-dominated crafts, such as creative stitching, knitting, crocheting and similar. Some of the exhibitors there seemed to feel like they were outsiders, but I felt they were as deserving to be there as anyone else (and more so than some of the purely vendor tables); some of them proudly exclaimed as such, and their work was a refreshing change of pace from the more dominant themes.

I recall enjoying music-related stalls in years gone by. There was usually a table of synthesizers which was fun to noodle with. I'm not sure what making they were exhibiting, perhaps the intention was their own music: there was no sign of DIY synth building. But it was fun. Various other stalls tended to have DIY synths or novel musical input devices wired up to Arduinos, or Raspberry Pis. The Centre itself has a permanently installed reactive table set up as a synthesizer which my daughter and I both enjoy playing with when we visit. One year a company was demonstrating reactive lighting boxes that I'm fairly sure were designed with (or in collaboration with) Brian Eno.

I was also impressed to see a stand demonstrating a mini replica of a PDP-8 minicomputer (it might have been this one), which reminded me of the Newcastle University Computing History Committee, and made me ponder whether any of our activities in that committee would be worthy of a stall at the next Maker Faire. For the last couple of years I've also weighed up whether or not my daughter was old enough to enjoy attending. I was fairly sure that 2019 would have been the first year that she might be, but alas, it will not come to pass.


Comments

comment 1
I’d just started looking for tickets to Maker Faire 2019 up in Newcastle, thinking I hadn’t seen anything advertised for it yet. Quite upset they’ve ditched it. Found your site when trying to find out why they’d come to that decision. A real shame, we enjoyed the robot wars type mini arena last year and there were all sorts of little quirky things to look at.
Comment by Jolyon Brown,
comment 2
Newcastle has a total resident catchment population of 1.3 million (unweighted catchment).
Comment by MH,