In case you missed the great upswell of publicity among Canberra’s crafty scene, the inaugural Handmade Markets were on today at Albert Hall. (In fact, they’re on until 6pm if you happen to be reading this before then).
Albert Hall was a sort of compromise venue for the markets after they couldn’t get the permanent home in Gungahlin they wanted. Unfortunately, it’s not the best venue and with more than 50 stalls, the markets appear to have already outgrown the hall – before even finishing their first event! Of course, today’s bad weather did mean there were few stalls outside, but you don’t want to rely on having outside stalls with Canberra’s winters.
That said, the stalls that were crammed into the hall were of fantastic quality. I have become somewhat disillusioned with Canberra’s markets lately but the organisers here obviously put a lot of effort into vetting the stall holders. Who knew Canberra had such a trove of talent! Most items were reasonably priced (especially important with no ATM anywhere nearby) and many of the stall holders were happy to take orders.
There was an abundance of jewellery and handbags and while it was fascinating to see all the stalls and craftspeople for the first time, I suspect it might get a little samey if they all showed at the next markets and the next and the next. There were a lot of amazing textiles — obviously the ANU art school is having an influence — and a lot of the designs would have made gorgeous shirts or skirts but had not been used that way. I would like to see more clothes (there’s few local designers I have bought from before at the bus depot and Gorman House markets and there are more coming out of CIT every year) but I suppose the need for fitting rooms would have complicated things further in the crowded space.
The small food section in the kitchen smelled marvellous. They had a whole range of fresh food on sale, including plowman’s lunches, rice paper rolls and dolmades. I had a cup of cauliflower and blue cheese soup with cajun-spiced croutons and it was absolutely delicious, welcomely warming on this chilly day and only cost $3.50. There were also gingerbread houses, wines and “Crankypants” chutneys, jams and spices.
The next markets are February and I thoroughly recommend them.
UPDATED: Many thanks to poptop for sending in photos from the markets. Slideshow below: