Once the word craft would be very likely to conjure thoughts of macrame pot plant holders and brown glazed mugs for instant coffee.   In fact, I have a friend who in an amusing,  but nevertheless patronising fashion likes to categorise all craft-related pursuits with the a generic term of pottery.  'That's a nice bit  pottery you're weaving on your needlepoint workbench', etc.

But in the last five years or so craft has become the new cool, and suddenly I am swamped with opportunities to purchase  funky quality hand made items at the same or less cost than any mass produced imported department store tat.  Perth Upmarket started small about four years ago and is now a quarterly phenomenon. http://www.perthupmarket.com.au/

This related magazine will give you a good idea of where I'm coming from here.

You can't move your elbows at these weekend events held at the local Uni, with hundreds of creative and entrepreneurial folk peddling their wares to a cashed-up crowd who are all gagging for it.  I got down there last Sunday to do some Christmas shopping for our UK family we are soon to visit.  How cute is this felt trivet I bought for my food stylist sister in law:

The joyous observation to make here is that finally people are cottoning on to the value of handmade locally produced goods that are unique and don't have to travel through a complex global supply chain.  Hopefully the creative value intrinsic within these items also means consumers will be able to appreciate the work taken to produce them, and feel less of a need to buy so much.  

Not that I want to be a  smug 'been there done that', but I had my own foray into craft commercialisation about six years ago at the point when this was all just about to go off, with my vintage inspired tea towel business Patsy and Clive.

It was lots of fun, but after a year or so when I tallied up what it had cost me and how much I made back, well, best not go there.  So when I get tempted to feel envious of these creative types standing behind their wares, taking cash hand over fist for a day, I sagely remind myself of the  endless hours and effort and expense that is involved in getting to market in this creative economy.   For the time being I'm loving being a consumer rather than producer.  But who knows, maybe I'll dip a toe in the craft pool again one day.


Day of the Triffids

Not far from where I live (on the wrong side of the track) is the house where two members of the legendary 80's alternative band the Triffids grew up, and indeed recorded many of there early jams in the basement therein.   The Triffids went on to become one of Australia's most revered bands of all time (for those with any musical taste that is), and had moderate overseas success too.

The two McComb boys grew up at The Cliff with their other brothers and doctor parents, and attended the local private boys school.  The Cliff is a vast rambling weatherboard house built at the end of the 19th Century in a prime position looking over Freshwater Bay (no working class roots for these guys, sorry).   The house has been vacant and decaying for many years now while a series of investor owners have dithered about what do with it.  Thankfully the current owner has declared non-demolishion as a condition of sale, however the buyers are not rushing in.  Such is the 'bowl it and build a mansion' mentality around here.

I often walk my dogs down past the Cliff to the river, and have more than once jumped the fence and  had a good nosy around.  Then when it went on the market a while back I went with my son and we got to look inside too.   It is like time stood still within its walls, in a home that nurtured some of the most creative talent to come from Perth, in its unpretentious and languid beauty.  I just love wandering around here and thinking about those guys growing up there in the 70's, resisting the dominant paradigm of their privileged upbringing, yet probably largely inspired by the incredible beauty of their environment and quality education.  I'm sure a bit of music practice got enforced in this house after school too.

There is also a tragic aspect to the beauty in this decay, with time standing still when the house was vacated, at around the time that Dave McComb died from a combination of bad luck, over indulgence and illness.  

Here are some photos I've taken there.  Just wish I had a lazy $4m and I'd be moving in next week.


Bragging Rights

This weekend I went to see Billy Bragg play at Perth's Astor theatre.  I've been a BB fan for over twenty years and like a total groupie could sing all the words to most of the songs.  I even managed to convince my sceptical husband to come along and watched with smug satisfaction as he became a convert over the course of the evening.  

Anyone who has heard of BB will know that he is more than a musician, and is rather a social commentator, political activist and somewhat of a raconteur who can give a great concert.  He campaigns for the voice of the people, resistance against the machine of rampant capitalism and general shit stuff going on in the world.  The first half of the concert was a tribute to Woody Guthrie who has inspired so many of our century's great songwriters, following on with a set of classic tracks from this inspirational entertainer.  Those minor chords just do it for me every time.

But I come away feeling melancholy.  Sad for the slide of social conscience that I realise middle age has bought me, replaced instead with inward focus on my own issues and those of my immediate family.  Sad also for the guitar playing that I never got back to after my first flurry of BB inspired efforts to learn some chords and strum a tune.  A bit (but not much) sad for my son who instead is being forced by me to learn guitar and listen to my rants about inequality.

Hopefully that evening will recharge me to come back to what is important in life, and maybe even pick up that Ibinez one day soon again.

It seems like you have changed, from red to blue....