For everyone who was hanging out to hear about my current sewing studio arrangements next week is going to be the week. A visit to the South Melbourne Market sparked a digression from the plan:
Actually the weekend started off with the monthly Beaumaris Farmer's Market which we've made a bit of a habit of this year picking up homemade curry paste, homemade chicken or beef pies to take home for lunch and always a coffee and cake. Saturday we picked a Quince tart and an apple strudel from a Danish stand. I wish I'd taken a photo but alas it wasn't in my head but they were scrumptious.
This market is held under the trees on the edge of the local school oval (in fact it's my old school, and my kids old school!). It's only been going a year or so and is part of the newish movement for farmer's markets and locally grown or made produce and products. They're such an urban sort of thing. But I love strolling around with Melon on a lead sharing the love between all the stall holders. We've picked our favourite barista (Ben from Mr Jitters) but we do like to try a different cake stall each time and pick up a different special treat as well (sausages one month, artisan bread another).
Various traders at South Melbourne market
The next day found us at an entirely different market - the South Melbourne Market. This one's close to the CBD and is one of the city's originals (it was set up in 1867 - which is pretty old given Melbourne didn't exist 33 years earlier). These originally open air 19th century markets were the shopping malls of their era. Land was set aside specially for trading and the conglomeration of stalls were the primary way residents got hold of the goods they needed, whether that was hay for the horses, fruit, vegetables or meat for the table, or shovels for the gold fields. Just like going to the supermarket and department store at Westfield today.
The South Melbourne Market remains a general market with the array of traders continually evolving to reflect the needs and desires of the community it serves. Yet, fruit, vegetables, meat and other pantry items still occupy a good 50% of the market area. I guess we still eat. No hay to be seen though, instead handbags, bicycles, pet wares, jewellery, teapots, clothes, shoes, household bric-a-brac and fabric (though I guess there's a good chance the last 5 would have been seen back in the 1800s). And lots of people sitting down to lots of cake, coffee, paella and pizza - perhaps these would not have been around 150 years ago either.
That's my booted foot as I admire the bike. And then I couldn't help but get a pic of this fruit & veg shop called Georgie's Harvest. I'm wearing a memade coat - made from embroidered polyester and lined with wadding and cotton brocade tablecloth fabric.
Despite the lack of heating and the wind blowing through them old markets like South Melbourne remain just as relevant and well frequented as their modern spotless, gleaming, fully enclosed cousins. I think it's the characters shining through that keeps the customers coming; the character of the buildings, the shop keepers, and the shoppers. We're all allowed to be ourselves in ways that we're not in a modern shopping mall. We can make and sell artisanal products whether they be a cake, a home grown carrot, a handbag or a bicycle (yes, the bikes at South Melbourne are designed by a local). And shoppers can browse, handle, consider and buy goods made by hand, made locally and in so doing they can share in and support something essentially human - the art of making.
Under verandahs along the outside perimeter there's an array of cafe's, cakes, flowers, all vying for attention
The same goes for farmers markets and craft markets and dare I say it, the internet. When else in time have so many individual craftspeople and consumers been able to get together to celebrate what it is to be human - a creative creature who wants to manipulate their environment to make something new for others to use?
Outside the South Melbourne market fabric shop specialising in wools and (fake) furs.
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FishPetals Do Fly: indie sewing patterns to make fabulous fabric hats