At the recent Bendigo Writers Festival I attended a session run by owl-like, creative genius, Marcus Westbury. Marcus is the founder and director of a number of creative festivals. He is also a writer and he has just launched his first book “Creating Cities” which was a crowd founded job.
Most inspiring to me, in 2008 Marcus founded the Renew Newcastle project with his own funds and energy. Renew Newcastle sought to turn around the streetscape of a quiet and sometimes deserted Newcastle, by filling it with creative makers and creators. Marcus somehow brokered agreements between the makers and the business owners whose buildings were standing empty and brought about change through a counter cultural “bottom-to-top” movement. You can read a lot more about it by purchasing his book here, or by visiting his website.
Marcus has now launched a TV show on the ABC called “Bespoke” which takes a look at the revolution of the “handmade, bespoke, locally produced and artisanal” market within Australia. In it Marcus quotes a number of productivity stats to demonstrate the amazing groundswell in Australia toward locally made, small, artisanal producers.
A 700% increase in jewellery makers in recent years.
Two million small-scale makers and producers operating throughout Australia.
This all really resonated with me, and with the amazing, creative, multi faceted and dynamic artisanal streetscape that we have going on here in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges. I have written before about the great selection of markets that are all within easy reach of where I live here at the base of the Dandenong Ranges. These markets are full of local people who are making, baking and creating on a small-scale, but to grand effect when they come together. Families, friends, Mum & Dad’s, all who have turned their own creative pursuits into businesses. And as Marcus points out in “Bespoke” there is no shortage of consumers who are keen to buy these beautiful products.
Buying from an artisanal maker is about increasing connection.
In this increasingly disconnected society, there is a groundswell, an urgency and an inexplicable pull toward community and the small-scale. We want to meet and connect with the people who connect with the land. We seek and find our local watering holes and our community tribesmen even when our landscape has seen their access pulled just beyond our grasp. Small scale traditional community, where the village raised a child, has been fragmented and taken away, so instead we forge our own way.
I have moved around quite a bit as an adult and I have experienced this community disconnection. The isolation of having no family to rely on and no neighbour to share the sugar with. I work in mental health and have read the literature outlining the outstanding contribution community connectedness can make toward resilience.
We gather together to share, learn, grieve and grow sharper.
I thought I would compile a list of local artisanal makers and producers that are operating here in my own little corner of Melbourne. Since I started this blog I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of creative and passionate producers. So I have created a new page to list them all here. I would love for you to join in and add your favourites to this list.
For now here are my current favourites.
Artisanal Producers of Berwick and beyond
- The Artisan Crust
- Seven Pages, Sassafras.
- The Butter Kitchen, Gembrook
- Cannibal Creek Bakery
- Belgrave Emporium
- Jam Lady Jam
- G.Luxe Muesli
- Beer & Skittles hand dyed and hand spun yarn.
- Mountain Pops
If you would like to read more on the topic, here are a couple of recommendations.
- Theologian and social philosopher Michael Frost talks about “The Beautiful Apocalypse” and describes how he believes we have disconnected from our land, our own bodies and each other. You can follow him on twitter.
- Gourmet Farmer and former food critic Matthew Evans from Fat Pig Farm, talks about our disconnection from the food chain. Find out more about Matthew Evans here or follow the gorgeous Fat Pig Farm Facebook page here.
- Whole Larder Love author, whole food for health advocate and modern day hunter gatherer, Rohan Anderson writes about our disconnection from nature and the true source of our food. Sign up to his blog or buy his latest book here.
You can see Marcus walking, talking and staring at the camera on ABC iview.
Who are your favourite local artisanal makers and creators? Let me know in the comments and I will add them to my list.
Dani B xx