Art market showcases Australian creative talent

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WITH a focus on showcasing Australian designers and makers, the 2018 Undercurrent Design Market is a chance to buy beautiful, original and gorgeous things direct from the artist, says organiser Richard Baz.

“Artists and makers are sometimes put on a pedestal, but at the markets you’re meeting the makers and seeing what they do, and it’s nice seeing everyone being supportive,” he says.

“People enjoy meeting the artists and I think it’s an opportunity to break down some of those walls in the art world.”

Now in its ninth year, Undercurrent will be held on November 23-25 in the foyer area of the National Portrait Gallery, and will feature 70 new and returning artists across 56 stalls, selling original jewellery, clothes and ceramics, glass, shoes and homewares.

It kicks off on Friday, November 23, from 5pm, with guitarist Mickey Sulit, nibbles and a bar, says Richard.

“It’s a great start to the market and we find that people come along for a look then come back to shop over the weekend,” he says.

“We’re at maximum capacity this year and it’s going to be big – last year 17,000 people came through, which is the most we’ve ever had.”

Richard says returning artists include artist Trevor Dickinson, who features Canberra’s bus stops, celebrated local jeweller Alison Jackson and Wendy Voon, who does the “most amazing” knitwear.

“I’ve had artists coming to the markets again and again, so it’s a bit like a family reunion,” he says.

Richard’s looking forward to Melbourne-based Preston Zly Designs joining the market, featuring artisan duo Johanna Preston and Petr Zly who design and produce bespoke handmade footwear.

“Their shoes are quite amazing, and Johanna was keen to come last year but was double-booked so we’re excited to have her this year,” says Richard.

“We’ve also got ceramicist Margaret Brown, who’s one of the patriarchs of the ceramics world, glass artist Harriet Schwarzrock, a Craft ACT collective, All The King’s Men who makes and designs canvas and leather bags and Made by Marcelle who makes really beautiful concrete planters and homewares in pastel colours.”

Richard says he and his wife Mel O’Hanlon, who co-organise the market, love to support Australian designers and makers through their Curatoreum shops at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Arboretum and now in Kendall Lane, New Acton.

“We’re there and we’re celebrating Australian design,” he says.

“Our focus is promoting local and national designers and makers rather than going for the latest trends.

“The good thing about Undercurrent is that it’s ideally placed just before Christmas, but it’s also so that people come and buy, and support artists at this time of year.

“It’s when people buy gifts, and it’s a good time to celebrate that, an opportunity to get unique, high-quality, gorgeous items and support artists directly.

“Everything at Undercurrent is handmade, it’s all unique and you get to meet the people who actually design and make it.”

Undercurrent Design Market, National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Barton, 5pm-8pm on Friday, November 23, and 10am-5pm Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25.

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