Beauty in suburbia

25 07 2009

Saturday afternoon coffee at a little cafe Spoonful, High Street, Prahran – the paper-cut on the wall caught my eye. It contains the words for ‘spoonful’ in Spanish (cuchara or cucharada). It’s pretty.


this is not a design market

24 07 2009

As part of the State of Design Festival, ‘this is not a design market‘ was held on 19th July 2009, and was fantastic! This was a perfect example of the vibe a market should have.

Despite getting a bit annoyed, and throwing a mini-tanty in my car, about it taking more than twenty minutes to find a car park in the area (and before it’s asked, yes I do reverse park!) – I had a lovely time once in The Factory. It is a pretty amazing space.

inside the market

inside the market

There were lots of fabulous stalls. I made sure I found Brown Paper Collective, to visit Melissa and Jasmine and friends. I was particularly excited to see some of Melissa’s new work – she generously gave permission for me to take some photographs.

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

It was so busy I couldn’t get good images of the other works – which is great for the makers really and I hope all the foot-traffic translated into sales.

The way I read the market website, this may not be a one-off – if not, then I look forward to the next one.


22 07 2009

Maybe it was because it was early-ish on the Sunday morning, but it was pretty quiet when I visited Design:Made:Trade at the Royal Exhibition Building. The event was part of the State of Design Festival, intended to “showcase Australia’s small manufacturers, product designers, and design makers to an audience of manufacturers, retail and export buyers and the public“.

Almost all of the stalls were very beautifully presented; and there were quite a number of jewellers. I would love to have taken some photographs, but a sign at the entrance clearly stated no photography or sketching – this is the first time I’ve seen sketching specifically mentioned. There are some images and stories about the event at HandMadeLife.

One stall that caught my attention was ‘A Skulk of Foxes‘ – I bought a brooch made by the duo a year or two ago, and I have always loved their name. Their Nadezhda brooches (below) were particularly gorgeous, and though I walked away without one they have been haunting me since … I may need to bring one home in the near future …

used with artist permission

image used with artist permission

I also liked the following:

  • the furniture from Tide, especially the Forest shelf
  • old-fashioned-styling of textiles from Sally Campbell; they are so similar to work I’ve made myself, that of course I couldn’t help but connect to them!
  • objects and lighting from Volume and Void

Design:Made:Trade was at the Royal Exhibition Building, open to the public on 18th/19th July 2009.

General Assembly

20 07 2009

As part of the State of Design Festival, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit the studio of Blanche Tilden and Phoebe Porter to learn more about their collaborative project ‘General Assembly‘.

The hour started with a well-prepared talk to slides, describing the conceptualisation and production of the work. I didn’t know a lot about this project beforehand, so I enjoyed hearing about the steps the artists went through and why they made certain decisions. The explanation of the different components in the Melbourne and Canberra series was especially interesting.

The fundamental idea was to create jewellery that the wearer could construct themselves, using pre-fabricated components. There are literally thousands of combinations, so each made is as unique as the person making it.

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

The above image shows the Melbourne series – with finished examples on the right. The components were drawn from the Melbourne city-scape, with the colours and shapes (particularly the mesh) being particular to our city. Blanche is an experienced glass-worker and the beads add motion, as they slide along the slots in the metal pieces.

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

The above image shows the Canberra components – finished pieces are in the top-left tray. I really liked how Blanche and Phoebe described why and how they changed their approach to this city, following the Melbourne series. The colours are beautiful and I was impressed to find that they anodised the metal themselves.

Blanche then showed us how she creates the small glass beads by lamp-work. This was fascinating! And for non-jewellers, Phoebe gave a quick demonstration of saw-piercing a prototype element – showing how labour-intensive this investigative stage can be. I think these kinds of demonstrations are valuable – for non-makers, it is sometimes not easy to understand the pricing of contemporary jewellery (if not made from ‘precious’ metals), so seeing first-hand how much work is involved is crucial for developing community understanding.

As a kind of aside, Blanche explained the choice of brooches as opposed to rings or bracelets – that alongside the appealing connections to name badges, signifiers, identifiers worn on the body, that brooches were the less gender-specific. This adds a little more to answering the question I had recently about the proliferation of brooches at ‘Schmuck 2009‘.

More detailed information on this project is available at their website: Studio Hacienda. Thanks to Blanche and Phoebe for generously sharing their time and process!