The Wonderful World of Oz…the Melbourne art + craft scene
by guest contributor Angela Traunig
I was born in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia called Ferntree Gully. Yes folks, there really is a place called Ferntree Gully. My family moved to the States when I was 8 years old, but I’ve always felt that Melbourne was my true home. Maybe if I lived there now I would consider the good ‘ole USA to be home, but as it is, absence makes the heart grow fonder and I bleed for Oz.
Melbourne is considered the most metropolitan, busy, architecturally diverse, and artistically minded city in all of Australia. Now Sydney, might argue that point, but to me, Sydney is a fantastic place to vacation and people watch, but Melbourne is the beating heart of the country.
And if you need to get away, within a day’s drive you can be boating, surfing, 4 wheel driving, visiting wineries or enjoying a Devonshire tea amongst the tree ferns.
To help illustrate my point, I decided to ask some of my fellow Melbournian artists to share what they love most about being an artist in this amazing city.
– Penny from Pocket Carnival
Melbourne is awesome for lots of different reasons, but we really love the opportunities that arise and the support from the really strong & vibrant arts & crafts scene. There are always so many shops, markets & galleries who are super supportive of small handmade businesses & emerging artists, and SO MANY lovely people who are delighted to share info & resources. That is pretty great.
Also, Melbourne has awesome coffee. And great food. And nice beaches.
– Natalie from Little Red Owl
I love that Melbourne fosters its own community of creative people as well as its exposure to what is happening internationally. I love that you can find the work of independent creatives in shops all over Melbourne and that there are regular (incredibly popular) Design Markets in Melbourne, as well as a huge number of genuine craft markets, which I find incredibly inspiring. Melbourne also has a thriving gallery and exhibition scene and it is possible to go to a different exhibition every day of the week.
Since having my own children, I take more notice of the fact that children are very much included in the creative scene in Melbourne as well. There are regular ‘Art Cart’ activities at the National Gallery and a specific area set up for them in the Gallery; so I love that creativity and exposure to the arts is fostered from an early age in Melbourne.
The other thing I love about Melbourne is that Melbourne people love unique and individual work (and are quite proud of their arts scene) and will spend that little bit extra to buy it, and that creates a support base for artists who want/need to make a living from their work.
After having lived overseas in New York and London for a long time, I thought I might be missing out a bit when we moved home to Melbourne, but I don’t feel that at all, I love the creative scene in Melbourne.
– Kristina & Jason from Inaluxe
What we love about being artists in Melbourne? The diversity of people, things to see and do, and places to go. Williamstown beach is one of our favourite spots, the Northcote Social is perfect for lazy long lunches and cold beer! The Sun Theatre in Yarraville is one of the loveliest old buildings in Melbourne, and is such a fabulous place to go see a film! We love all the second hand furniture, book, and music stores. So many things to do… so little time.
-Tali of Milk And Cookies
Melbourne has a really vibrant arts community. The year is crammed with festivals: film, arts, fringe, design, food, you name it! We’re also lucky to have a fantastic local music scene and great community radio stations. I secretly do love the crazy weather – there’s always time to do something creative if it’s raining outside. I feel lucky to live in a city that values the arts. There are so many talented people living here – they always surprise and inspire me.
– Anne from Anou Design
Melbourne has a vibrant and growing handmade scene. There are so many talented designers, and it is easy to find inspiration among their creations. Handmade crafts are displayed and sold in many local craft markets; it is often hard to choose which one to go to or to participate in! There are lots of local markets close to my home where amazing craftspeople first started selling their goods, just like me. The experience from these markets is so enriching. Many of Melbourne’s craft markets are dedicated to promoting the uniqueness of each artist and showcasing wonderful creations and inspirational ideas.
Melbournians are rediscovering the joy of buying something made by hand and it is a real pleasure. Shops are now conscious of the beauty and uniqueness of the handmade creations. Manufacturing and mass production are becoming overtaken by the reuse and recycle phenomenon. I love how people in Melbourne mix the new and old items, the eco urban design, the original architecture, I simply love the lifestyle. Melbourne is a city that celebrates family, friendship, love, food, design, art and so much more. Melbourne is MY creative place, where I can make a living from my hands and be happy.
I want to thank all my fellow artsy Melbournians for contributing to this article and I also want to encourage all you wonderful people to consider visiting the Etsian Australian Flood Appeal site on Etsy. They are selling some fabulous handmade goods from Australian artists to raise money for the unfortunate folks north of Melbourne in Brisbane, Australia. There has been so much rain and flooding of the Brisbane River that it is simply coming up out of the manhole covers in the middle of downtown. If you see anything you might like on their Etsy site, please buy buy BUY! and help out my Aussie brothers and sisters!
About the contributor: Angela Traunig is the artist behind Ferntree Studio. She was born in Ferntree Gully, Australia, but her family moved to Atlanta when she was 8 years old. She is a southern girl with even more southern roots! She has a background in Industrial Design, but after spending some time on bed rest during a pregnancy, she started drawing and Ferntree Studio was born.