Making by hand – Design Canberra Festival

Girl Nomad Ceramics. Photo: 5 Foot Photography
Girl Nomad Ceramics. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Making by hand

DESIGN Canberra wants to introduce you to some of the city’s most fascinating makers

Art enthusiasts will know that appreciating a piece of art is only half the experience.

The other half is the appreciation of the maker themselves—their technique, their progression as a maker or artist, their history and their future. This is exactly what the DESIGN Canberra 2020 program will focus on—getting up close and personal with the makers themselves.

In an effort to cultivate a caring and creative environment at a time when the art and design sector is in recovery from a difficult 12 months, DESIGN Canberra’s 2020 program will put makers front and centre, spotlighting the 2020 festival theme of ‘care’.

This year, DESIGN Canberra will weave care into their popular annual events including their designer-in-residence, the always popular Open Studios, maker demonstrations, hands-on workshops, a film festival and exhibitions.

Image: 2020 DESIGN Canberra signature artwork, With care, created by glass artist Kirstie Rea. Timber fabrication: Zeljko Markov. Photo: Lean Timms.

DESIGN Canberra 2020’s endurance through these tough times and determination to ensure the show will go on is representative of the importance this event holds in the arts and design community.

The ongoing impact of DESIGN Canberra has created space for artists to forge important connections, develop new work and build visibility for their craft.

This year, the packed (yet very COVID-safe) program holds something for everyone, so let’s dive in.

For those who are very ‘hands-on’, a variety of workshops will offer a unique maker experiences overseen by local artists including crafting ceramics, weaving, glass design, floristry, Japanese printing and photography.

Image: Still from Lives of Clay, 2018, Zoe Manders (crop).

If you’d prefer to observe, the Reel to Reel short film festival pulls focus to making and craft in all its facets: from traditional to contemporary, to the subversive.

Reel to Reel will explore makers’ intimate relationship with materials and art through diverse forms including documentaries, music videos and animations that celebrate craft.

After watching Reel to Reel on the big screen, you can experience inspiration in-person, by meeting makers at their Open Studios. You’ll be able to gain an insight into the unique worlds of our special creators—from their practice to the philosophy.

Kirstie Rea Open Studio. Photo: 5 Foot Photography.

Wanting to support your local industry? Artists will be selling contemporary handmade ceramics, furniture, textiles, glass and more at these Open Studios. In 2019, over $60,000 income was generated directly by studio artists.

Some artists make more in DESIGN Canberra than they do all year—and in a year where many artists’ means of selling and showcasing (such as markets) have been severely limited, it’s more important than ever to support these invaluable members of our community.

Curtis Glass Art open studio. Photo: 5 Foot Photography.

Looking for some inspiration before you attend one of the workshops or Open Studios? Craft ACT will be opening the doors of the Craft + Design Centre for two signature exhibitions: HOME:MADE—featuring a curated selection of new furniture, homewares and jewellery for your eyes and heart to drool over—as well as the annual return of c/o Craft ACT, a diverse exhibition illustrating how care underpins a maker’s commitments, with works from Craft ACT’s membership.

This year, care has also come from our communities, both chosen and found. Something that most of us are familiar with after lockdown is the streets in which we reside—the communities of our suburbs.

This is Suburbia. Credit: Davey Barber, 5 Foot Photography.

Photographer Davey Barber’s new exhibition This Is Suburbia captures the often-liminal places that are observed through the windows of our car. Depicting the neighbourhoods of Canberra that raised him, it explores Canberra suburbs of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Another key exhibition not to miss is From an Untouched Landscape—a moving look at the influence of European colonisation on the Australian landscape as visual artist James Tylor sheds light on the absence of aboriginal culture in our modern landscapes.

Don’t worry—you’ll still get to meet these makers to. Davey Barber will lead a floor talk about his exhibition, alongside Fran Tapia and Natalie Dorey from Igers Canberra.

Join James Tylor to celebrate his exhibition ‘From an Untouched Landscape’ at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, where he will speak about the works on display. Afterwards, take to the seas for a very special boat ride to Springbank Island.

This article was originally published on HerCanberra.

HerCanberra is a proud media partner of DESIGN Canberra 2020.

DESIGN Canberra acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We aim to respect cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.