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A Showcase of Artistic Talent

A Showcase of Artistic Talent

First published in Hunter Lifestyle Magazine
July 2008

If the decorations going up in shopping centres around the city are any indication, the Christmas season is once again upon us, bringing with it carols, Christmas lights and the inevitable, fruitless searching for the perfect gift for our loved ones.

There is, however, an alternative to joining the crowd in chain stores and shopping malls: the 2007 Art Bazaar. Taking place on the first of December, this timely event has, for the last five years, played host to an ever-increasing range of craftsmen and artists from around the Hunter Region.

“It’s a great opportunity to come and do shopping for Christmas, and to find something you’re just not going to find anywhere else,” says Lauren Boyd, the event’s representative, whose own jewellery designs will be on display at the event.

This year’s Bazaar will feature over forty different vendors, all offering something unique and perhaps just a little bit quirky. With goods ranging from jewellery and clothing to ceramics, toys, paintings and even furniture on display, even the most discerning buyer will find the perfect gift – and no doubt a few personal indulgences along the way.

Jess Lee is just one of the artisans you’ll find at the event. The 22 year-old seamstress is an Art Bazaar veteran, whose clothing designs have drawn numerous repeat customers over her years selling at the event.

“I like to combine heavy linens with playful prints to produce unique clothing,” explains Jess. “My work often features bold and colourful designs, with a strong emphasis on structure.”

Jess’ work ranges from everyday items to what she calls ‘wearable art’. These eye-catching articles are as much a showcase of Jess’ own formidable talent as a seamstress as they are works of art in their own right. One such piece features a distinctive whorl cut out of the back of a coat, the shape held in place by a delicate spider’s web of blue thread.

A graduate of Hamilton TAFE’s clothing production course, Jess has been involved with the Art Bazaar for four years now, since her first exposure to it during her time as a student. Having already had experience selling her products commercially under her label Imoko Tactile Curiosities, Jess saw the Bazaar as an opportunity to further develop both her exposure and her own abilities as a salesperson.

“It was mentioned at class, so I went out and made the effort to get my own stall. I was really nervous that first time though; doing the selling myself was a bit of a challenge. It was a good experience though, and I’ve got a lot of regular clientele from it.”

The Art Bazaar is an event that appeals to Novocastrian art-lovers across the region. Drawing from a pool of diverse, yet largely unsung talent, the event is a showcase of the many local artists who might otherwise go unnoticed.

“The Bazaar is an event specifically for the development of local people,” says Lauren. “It was started by the Cultural Development area of the Newcastle City Council, designed to showcase the arts, craft and design community of Newcastle and the Hunter.”

Wonderfully, what started in 2002 as a small-scale craft show supported entirely by the council has now grown substantially and is anticipated each year by both buyers and sellers alike.

This year sees the Bazaar stepping out, for the first time, from under the safety net of council funding, being run under the banner of the Hunter Arts Network. Although this move brings with it obvious financial risks, it’s a fair bet that the move will pay off in the long run; if the many thousands of people who attended the event just last year are any indication, then the 2007 Art Bazaar will prove very successful indeed.

For Newcastle’s burgeoning arts community, this growth, and the opportunity to be in the public eye that comes with it, makes the Bazaar an event a welcome addition to the region’s cultural landscape. And for those of us facing untold hours of Christmas shopping, the Art Bazaar is a display of quality, handmade artworks that will maintain their appeal for years to come.

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