Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Interview: Brian Nankervis

Brian Nankervis loves a yarn.

Even though I’d been previously advised of this fact, it comes as actual relief when we settle easily into our allotted phone interview.

It's Nankervis’s genuine openness and natural gift of the gab that has made him a stalwart on Australian TV, with appearances on Hey Hey it's Saturday, Jimeoin, and cult 90s sitcom Let The Blood Run Free, as well as warm up jobs for The Panel and Big Girls Blouse, not to mention his long running gig as MC on the SBS music quiz show RocKwiz.

Monday afternoon and the St Kilda resident has just finished up a relaxing coffee in a neighbouring café, taking brief respite from a busy day. He spent the morning performing at a local primary school before moving on to host an intimate lunch, raising awareness for people living with disabilities.

It's a rich and varied schedule and one that no doubt keeps this former teacher on his toes, however (and as much as we could chat for hours) it’s none of these things that have lead us to arrange today’s conversation, neither is it his annual hosting role for the Sacred Heart Mission's Heart of St Kilda variety show, nor his spell as a Triple R DJ in the 1970s and 80s.

We’ve been brought together to discuss a very special collaboration between the members of the RocKwiz orchestra and Melbourne institution Ding Dong Lounge; who are proudly presenting a night of soul food, music and entertainment inspired by the spellbinding history of New Orleans.

What initially started life as a side project between owner of Ding Dong, Bill Walsh, and Nankervis, rapidly progressed into a series of sold out dinner shows occurring in late 2014 – the two have once again joined forces to develop a brand new night of entertainment, set to make its debut this coming Sunday the 1st of March.

Nankervis: “Bill approached the [RocKwiz] office and suggested that we get RocKwiz involved with the club and put on a show based on New Orleans, as their kitchen has a New Orleans theme. I knew that the band were all mad fans of New Orleans music so I approached the orchestra and we hatched this plan to perform the Dr John album Gris-Gris from start to finish, followed up with a second set of live dance songs.”

For the Melbourne born showman, live performances like the Ding Dong theme nights offer great opportunity for audience interaction, “to get the band going and see the audience dancing.” He happily shares that last year’s shows were “fantastic, one of the real high points of my career” allowing Nankervis time to schmooze, mingle and host, “I’ve always fancied myself as a maitre d' so that was good fun.”

While Nankervis may proudly wear his self-appointed title of Maitre d’, it’s not the only new mantle that he’ll be awarded with this afternoon. As we begin to wind up our interview I casually enquire about his evening plans. “I’m off to supervise my son’s cricket practice.” He shares, and it seems to me that we can go ahead and add the word coach to that impressive resume of his.


Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orchestra New Orleans dinner and show is on both Sunday the 1st and 15th of March from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

The Event: Bohemian Melbourne at The State Library of Victoria

Now open at the State library of Victoria, Bohemian Melbourne is a stunning exhibition devoted to celebrating the lives of a select group of individuals whose artistic legacies have helped mould the character of this city.

Curated by Clare Williamson, Bohemian Melbourne shines light on a rag-tag bunch of artistic rebels including Marcus Clarke, Mirka Mora, Vali Myers and Nick Cave; mindfully exploring history’s backstreets and smoky salons, while sharing the stories behind the daring poets, artists, visionaries and rock stars who changed Melbourne’s cultural landscape forever.

Inspired by Tony Moore’s Dancing With Empty Pockets: Australia’s Bohemians, the planning of this exhibition started around 2 years ago when Williamson began securing loans from private collections and accessing the State Library’s rich list of resources. The accomplished curator happily confides to Makers of Melbourne that her greatest struggle involved short-listing the chosen few who would end up being featured in the final display.

Clare: “It was tough and as a curator it’s always painful when you have to pick and choose. I could have made the exhibition twice the size that it was, it could have been huge but we always try and angle our collections so that its 80% library collection and about 20% major loans. We always look at how a story can be told visually and sometimes it might be that we have a fantastic person with no material culture to tell their story in a visual way.”

The library’s exhibition, which closes on the 22nd of February, includes a range of   “must show” characters (Barry Humphries, Mirka Mora and Vali Myers) as well as lesser-known creatives like the flamboyant Val Eastwood, proprietor of Val’s coffee lounge. Arguably the birthplace of Melbourne’s ‘camp’ culture (as it was known) in the 1950s, Val’s Coffee Lounge was a meeting place for artists, performers and musicians seeking momentary freedom from society’s conventions.

Val Eastwood at Val's Coffee Lounge, Unknown photographer c. 1950s - Courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Val Eastwood at Val's Coffee Lounge, Unknown photographer c. 1950s - Courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Eastwood, a well-known figure in the bohemian demimonde of 1950s Melbourne (often seen wearing men’s tailored suits and carrying a silver topped cane) established her café in what is now a Hare Krishna restaurant on Swanston Street. Creating a sanctuary for cultural misfits, Val’s played an integral part in the development of Melbourne’s café culture - To this day hundreds of cafes, bars and coffee shops generate opportunities for people to meet up and share ideas.

Bohemian Melbourne has been created as a place for visitors to engage.  The exhibition includes interactive displays and video monitors’ playing exerts from feature films, documentaries and rare footage, designed to bring the subject matter to life. “There’s great footage of Vali [Myers] in her hotel room at the Chelsea,” Williamson shares, “And [footage of] people coming and going including Debbie Harry.”

Clare: “Vali Myers was a much-loved figure, a lot of people met her in her open studio in the Nicholson building where people were welcome to come and buy a print or have a dance. People talk about how she was such a down to earth friendly character even though she had travelled the world and had met amazing people, she lived in Paris and Italy and met Warhol and Dali and tattooed Patti Smith’s knee.”

Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building, 1997, photographed by Liz Ham - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Vali Myers in her studio in the Nicholas Building, 1997, photographed by Liz Ham - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Sydney born Myers (who passed away in 2003 at the age of 72) was drawn to her adopted hometown of Melbourne’s strong artistic scene – It’s a creative culture that has been encouraged and supported since the gold rush, when thousands of foreigners flooded into the state of Victoria seeking gold, fame and fortune.

 What followed was an influx of performers, poets and free spirits drawn to the hedonistic lifestyle surrounding the financial boom. An element of Australian history rarely explored in secondary school reference books.

Clare: “We tend to make a point of things like the 1920s Paris or the Beat Poets or Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1960s, but we tend to not be as familiar or know that we had people here, like Marcus Clarke back in the 1860s who was living the life of a young dandy and starting up bohemian clubs where he and his mates would get together and smoke clay pipes, drink beer from pewter mugs, and recite poetry.”

Marcus Clarke, Unknown photographer, 1866 - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Marcus Clarke, Unknown photographer, 1866 - Courtesy of the State Library Victoria

Bohemian Melbourne offers fascinating insight into the history of our great city and into the lives of a group of artists not afraid to march to the beat of their own drum.

Clare: “Melbourne is a city that loves to celebrate the people who have the courage to express themselves through their art, whether that was through visual art, literature, fashion design, music and performance. The more that we looked the more we discovered just how rich Melbourne’s history was and how we love to celebrate the individual. Melbourne is a city very proud to embrace and celebrate individual expressions of culture.”

 Bohemian Melbourne runs at The State Library of Victoria until February 22nd. Entry is free.






The Event: Falls Festival, Lorne 2014

The closing note of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ fades and a palpable excitement builds as a projected clock counts down the seconds, ebbing closer and closer to midnight. Lead singer and drummer from the recently reformed Spiderbait, Kram, is working his way awkwardly around the stage, rhetorically asking the assembled audience when he’ll be asked to host the ARIA awards, before turning his attention back to the digital timepiece and beginning the new year’s countdown.



It’s a slightly strange moment on what had been an unusual new years eve at Falls Festival Lorne, with the noticeable absence of the annual parade leaving a hole in the festivities earlier in the evening. But Kram’s midnight announcement is met with thunderous applause from a sea of eager festival-goers. The valley surrounding Erskine Falls echoes back with cheers and catcalls, flares and fireworks explode as the Finley born performer exits the stage and The Presets begin a blistering post new year’s countdown set.

The beloved Aussie duo has been on stage for little over 5 minutes when a flare is thrown into the photographer’s pit. Security swarms as carpet begins to smoke and a thick haze settles on the first few rows of the audience. Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes continue to play, seemingly unaware of the smog and eager to please the hyper throng that has turned out to watch their first performance of 2015.

The Presets' Julian Hamilton

The Presets' Julian Hamilton

I stand near the stage wrapped in several layers of clothing. Although the day started out at a perfect 20 something degrees (new years eve offered the best weather conditions for the entire festival), the night has turned decidedly frigid; it doesn’t seem to have bothered the majority of the attendees I note, catching a glimpse of a guy dressed in little more than a pair of shorts - My gaze returns to the main stage as I wait for my photographer companion to complete her “three songs and out” duties.  As the herd of snappers makes their exit from the front of stage the sudden decision is made to leave before the end of the Presets set. It’s been a long couple of days and now is the perfect time to head back to Melbourne.

Falls is always exhausting but we’ve had it decidedly easy compared to most, although good food, coffee and some excellent vintage shopping are all fully available to the general public. Not to mention the beautiful surrounds, comedy, face painting, circus acts and music on offer.

Luke Steele from Empire Of The Sun

Luke Steele from Empire Of The Sun

Over the last few days I’ve managed to catch sets from some really great performers (Empire of the Sun, Jagwar Ma, Glass Animals), discovered some new favorites (Big Freedia, DMA’s) and have complied a massive list of albums to download on my return home. I’ve seen musicians get in trouble for smoking indoors, been offered glow sticks while in the queue for the toilets and asked by an inebriated punter if I was a figment of his imagination…Spoiler alert, I wasn’t.

Big Freedia

Big Freedia

Although festivities officially started on Sunday the 28th with performances from a host of bands including Client Liaison and hip hop legends Salt ‘n’ Pepper, it wasn’t until Monday the 29th that things kicked up a notch with headlining sets from The Temper Trap and DZ Deathrays (the latter being added to the bill after the cancellation of Julian Casablancas + The Voidz).

The weather was miserable with scattered showers and chilly conditions but that wasn’t enough to keep crowds away from Melbourne’s own North East Party House who had had a mid-afternoon audience dancing up a storm with their special blend of indie dance music. Unfortunately a real storm settled in toward the end of their set, leaving follow up act Dan Sultan performing to a disappointingly small crowd, as a majority of punters headed elsewhere seeking shelter from the steady rainfall.

North East Party House

North East Party House

By far the biggest buzz band of the day was Milky Chance, the German group have been attracting global audiences with their reggae tinged “folktronica” and their live set solidified their excellent reputation as they performed tracks off debut album, ‘Sadnecessary’. Lead single ‘Stolen Dance’ was the highlight of the show, greeted with rapturous applause from an inspired Monday night crowd.

Tuesday, and the second last day of 2014 had the most varied and appealing lineup with Sticky Fingers, Cloud Control and SBTRKT playing over the course of the day. The weather remained cold and miserable, but the first day of performances in The Grand Theatre gave a chilly audience the chance to keep warm with performances by Run The Jewels, Remi and The Black Lips.



John Butler sounded pitch perfect and got things moving with his early evening performance. He was a great choice to play before British electronic artist La Roux took the stage; the combination of laid back jams followed by dance music meant that the assembled crowd was large, varied and up for a good time.

As the sun rose on the last day of the festival it appeared that the clouds and wet weather had left for good. A slightly worse for wear looking crowd took full advantage of the sun, many stripping down to shorts, T shirts and summer dresses, basking in the summer heat.

One-man band Kim Churchill won over the audience early in the day and paved the way for killer performances by Vance Joy, Megan Washington, Cold War Kids and an enthusiastic farewell set from Bluejuice, all before the clock struck twelve. 

English band Alt-J sounded flawless as they performed songs off the Mercury Prize winning ‘An Awesome Wave’ and their recently released follow up, ‘This Is All Yours’. Vocalist Joe Newman’s lilting vocals pitch perfect, blending seamlessly with his bandmates uplifting sound.



 And then it was over.

Time to beat the crowds and return to the city. Back to life with the internet, mobile phone reception and fresh vegetables after a 3 day festival diet of fried food and cider. Thanks again Falls, as always you were an awesome way to usher in the new year.

The Event: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, HiFi Bar 19th December

Victoria’s purveyors of psych-rock fuzz, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard wrapped up the year and a national tour with a corker of a live set at The Hifi Bar last Friday night, supported by Leah Senior, Tonstartssbandht and Adalita, as well as a scene stealing series of psychedelic projections created by mixed-media artist Jason Galea.


After receiving international praise for their performances at New York's CMJ Music Conference in October, the November release of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (their 5th LP in the space of two and a half years) and extensive tours throughout America, the UK, Europe and Australia during 2014,  the young band would be forgiven for subjecting their audience to a lackluster performance. Luckily for us, they remained in high spirits throughout the concert, obviously ecstatic to be back on home turf.

The show at The Hifi would best be described as full sensory overload, visual effects working in perfect unison with the tunes, resulting in a mind-bending cacophony of sound, skill and stamina.

For the uninitiated King Gizz play fuzzy psychedelic rock, with a strong hint of 60s garage. The band lineup includes two drummers, three guitarists, and a sometime harmonica/tambourine/keyboard playing backing singer. What could easily be an overwhelming amount of sound works perfectly together, blending seamless layers of beats, echoes and fuzz with the vocals of lead singer Stu Mackenzie.

Four years in and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have managed to explore a staggering array of genres throughout their brief career; from bubblegum psyche pop (Oddments, 2014), garage punk and Daptone influenced soul (I’m In Your Mind Fuzz was partially recorded at the legendary Brooklyn based studio). With their “more is more” approach to recorded music it’s only fitting that their live shows should follow suit.

Playing a setlist that included a number of tracks off the latest LP, King Gizz kept their performance loose, happy to jam and draw out the running times of several tracks; incorporating drumstick flips, gobbing, tambourine solos and all manor of onstage shenanigans while an enthusiastic crowd whipped themselves into a hyped up frenzy.   

By the end of the gig this reviewer was left feeling both exhausted and elated, although sober I had the overwhelming feeling of having my drink spiked with LSD, Galea’s trippy lightshow embedded in my retinas while tunes firmly echoed through my head.

I made my way up the stairs of The Hifi and stumbled back onto Swanston Street deep into a thick crowd of unsuspecting late night shoppers. Although reluctant to break the live music spell, the reality of a pre-Christmas general public hit me hard as I wandered towards a Bourke Street tram stop, more than ready to see this magical septet perform again at the Sugar Mountain festival this coming January.

The Event: Victorine x Susanna Rose Sykes Kickstarter Launch

Housed in a Victorian terrace in the heart of South Melbourne’s Coventry Street, boutique women's shoe store Victorine opened in July, hitting the fashion zeitgeist with its focus on brogues, oxfords and loafers. 

Victorine - 275 Coventry st, South Melbourne

Victorine - 275 Coventry st, South Melbourne

The store was named after the 19th century Parisian muse Victorine Meurent – a woman whose non-conformism, artistic drive, self confidence and unique life story fused a common vision for this unique women’s shoe store. As Victorine co-founder Kirsty Umback explains, “These are shoes for women who know who they are and dress for themselves. We have taken that ‘Victorine’ sensibility into everything we sell and do, including our own range of British made footwear. Our ethos is about harnessing a bohemian spirit and encouraging creativity with both established and up and coming artists, craftsmen and designers.”

Even though Victorine is a relatively new venture, the boutique has already made a name for itself on the Melbourne fashion radar, including a recent footwear collaboration with Melbourne label Nevenka for their Spring/Summer collection.

The store is now turning focus onto a new collaborative venture with local artist Susanna Rose Sykes, whose pastel-hued paintings are rapidly drawing attention in the art world.

Susanna Rose Sykes

Susanna Rose Sykes

Recently completing her bachelor in fine arts and with a background in fashion illustration, Susanna Rose Sykes’ candy coloured paintings and illustrations are a cheeky tribute to gender empowerment, coming of age, female sexuality and pop culture. With work exhibited in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, a recent feature in Yen Magazine and a strong social media following, Susanna Rose Sykes seemed like the perfect match for the independent store’s aesthetic.

Last week Victorine and Susanna Rose Sykes proudly announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, uniting a mutual passion for art and quality design. A collaborative vision, the Victorine x Susanna Rose Sykes Kickstarter has been designed to celebrate the ‘Victorine’ woman, aiming to produce a range of shoes inspired by the art of Susanna Rose Sykes. 

'Fresh Panties' - Susanna Rose Sykes

'Fresh Panties' - Susanna Rose Sykes

Merging traditional artisan shoemaking with contemporary art and using Susanna Rose’s colour palette as their muse, Victorine hopes to manufacture a range of bespoke brogues which will then be presented in a limited edition Susanna Rose Sykes shoebox.

Alongside that offering is a range of limited release artworks, digital downloads and fine art prints, made exclusively for the campaign by Susanna Rose.  

The Victorine x Susanna Rose Sykes Kickstarter shoe design

The Victorine x Susanna Rose Sykes Kickstarter shoe design

Launching with a party last Wednesday December 10th, this exciting project offers both Victorine and Susanna Rose the opportunity to explore new areas of collaboration within their creative fields. The Victorine x Susanna Rose Sykes kickstarter campaign can be found here.



Interview: Amanda McCarthy, Leonard St.

Australian brand Leonard St. is the epitome of cool, with simple lines and sophisticated silhouettes. Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy loves print, colour and beautiful fabrics and these materials have formed the basis of her designs for over a decade. 

This Melbourne based label recently celebrated its 10th year of creating eclectic garments with a whimsical, urban style, inspired by bright happy colors and original prints of both a vintage and modern persuasion.

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

Leonard St. designer Amanda McCarthy

A self proclaimed fashion label born from doodles and experiments, McCarthy works on the ethos of understated chic and each piece is created to endure years of “frolicking and romance”. With a background in sculpture and fine arts, drape and line are the starting points of McCarthy’s design process, followed by fabrication for form and structure. 

The designer does most of her design work by hand in her recently acquired coastal studio.

McCarthy: “A view of the water is a new luxury and certainly helps me to get to that creative zone.”

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Her techniques for designing prints can be anything from simple potato cuts (SS10), finger painting with her daughters (SS10), pencil drawings and floral or insect patterns (AW11).

McCarthy: “We have a lot of insects in the garden and my little daughter is fascinated by them. Print design often comes from real life experience, the swallow (SS10-11) started by trying to slow down my husband’s tattoo addiction by trying to get him to research the design more, the swallow is the traditional motif for sailor tattoos as it was the symbol of land close by, yearned for after months at sea. It is all done by hand.”

With the tradition of the ragtrade in her blood, McCarthy’s future was seemingly prewritten – Her grandfather was the first to import Liberty fabrics into Australia and fine linens from Ireland in the 1930s and had a showroom of his brand, Laurie McCarthy, in Flinders Lane for 50 years spanning 1930-1980. Amanda wanted a more ambiguous and nostalgic tone to her brand and named it after Leonard Street in East London where a wild sartorial scene inspired her own playful approach to fashion.

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

Leonard St. Spring Summer 2015

McCarthy worked in retail before moving into buying, visual merchandising and managing film wardrobe departments before turning her hand to design.

Since its inception in 2004 her brand has shown internationally in London and Beijing as well as being regularly shown at Melbourne’s annual Fashion Festival.  Leonard St. has also collaborated with Australian high street brand Sportsgirl, producing a capsule collection of playful summer pieces for their 30 stores across Australia during Summer 2013, and Porsche, for whom McCarthy recently designed a signature silk scarf.

Last month Amanda announced the launch of a new childrenswear line, Little Leonard St. The range designed in a selection of her favourite prints, its inception the perfect method for brightening up her own children’s wardrobes. The move into children’s clothing is a natural progression for the label and an excellent way for Amanda to expand herself creatively, giving Leonard St. a unique standing point in an increasingly oversaturated Melbourne fashion market. 

McCarthy: “Once I had kids myself a lot people asked me if I would go into kids wear. I didn’t plan to, but after buying product for own kids that stretched or shrunk or ran, and I stated to visualise my prints working on some cute kids pieces, I couldn’t resist!”

It is this creative vision and foresight that has helped sustain Leonard St. over the past decade and will see it through many seasons to come, as well as an excellent way of increasing the longevity of the range of seasonal prints.

McCarthy:  "Its sad for me when I put so much work into a print, and it is well received I would like to continue it, if I can increase its shelf life past 6 months, then I’m happy! But I'm careful. I think it’s important to keep fresh product and presence in the store. So with the kids it has allowed me to continue with some of the old favourites, like the Fox or the Deer. And once on the kidswear they work really well."

Amanda confides to Makers that she loves to see her own daughters dressed in Little Leonard St, and takes on board what they like to wear again and again. With the guidance of her children she's added a sunhat and a few more cute dress styles, as well as a boycut tshirt and a little panda print tee to the range, much to the pleasure of her clients.

McCarthy: "The Little Leonard St section does bring a real warm and fuzzy feeling to the store. It evokes lots of smiles and oohs and ahhs, so of course we love that."

Leonard St. and Little Leonard St. are currently available in store and online. Visit the website for all shop and stockist enquiries.     





Artist Profile - Sarah Parkes, Smalltown

Macramé is having a serious resurgence in popularity thanks largely to artist Sarah Parkes.

Makers spies Parkes’ handiwork during visit to the Fitzroy design studio of Kloke, with whom the qualified graphic designer shares an open plan space, however this isn’t the first time that her intricate designs have caught our attention - And with pieces hanging in various shops, cafes, bars and offices around town, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen her work too. She has truly modernized what was, until only recently, considered to be a very outdated craft.

Sarah Parkes work in Mr Banks, Melbourne 

Sarah Parkes work in Mr Banks, Melbourne 

Months later we return to the creative studio to meet with the softly spoken Parkes, where she’s deep in the thick of knotting a commission piece bound for Sweden, her first international job. The large rope sculpture fights for space alongside a sleekly designed wall hanging, several lights, pot holders and in the corner of the room, a baby’s crib, where daughter Blue is sound asleep, oblivious to the controlled chaos that surrounds her.

Parkes: “I’ve always looked at craft books and was looking at macramé. I remember that I thought it was time for a reinvention. At the start I thought, ‘I can’t believe people haven’t done it yet’, macramé was always around but nobody was really doing it and I’m still waiting for someone else to. My love is the big stuff and the big commission pieces and still no one is, thankfully, doing it at the scale that I’m doing it, but I was lucky."

Sarah Parkes work in Arrow Energy, Brisbane

Sarah Parkes work in Arrow Energy, Brisbane

It takes more than luck to run a successful business, especially one within such niche confines, but Sarah isn’t afraid to push artistic boundaries. What started off as a career in small run jewelry design progressed into large-scale macramé after her friend, Rob Maniscalco, founder of Claude Maus, asked her to design a 7-meter wall hanging for his CBD concept store in 2008. Parkes followed this up with a couple of two story pot hangings for Space Furniture and installations for FUR Hairdressing. A newly discovered passion was ignited.

Parkes: “As soon as I did it I was just, ‘this is exactly what I want to be doing.’ I’ve been lucky to get some good commissions along the way, I get to push my practice in different directions, that’s part of the reason that I love what I do, I’m not pigeonholed into one type of design, I don’t just make pot hangings. I get to work across different fields.”

Sarah’s design business, Smalltown, is divided into two sections – Challenging commission work balanced out by a more straightforward capsule collection (made up of smaller, more budget friendly lights, pods and pot hangings). The recent acquisition of two assistants, who help out with the knotting of the capsule range, has helped to free up Sarah's time so that she can focus on larger scale installations. “It’s amazing having people work for you”, she laughs, “I did it for so long by myself and it took me a long time to feel ready to teach people.”

Parkes: “I shouldn’t say this but I think it’s [macramé] deceptively simple, however I say that after doing it for however many years… But really you can just repeat one knot again and again, it’s all how you move the rope around. It’s been really interesting having people in and realizing what standard I want things to be made at, and how important it is for people to get a product that looks like what they’re expecting. I always want to exceed people’s expectations.”

Parkes’ work is impressive, as is her ability to reinvent a once tired craft. The skilled tradeswoman makes a firm point of not working with natural fibers, therefore avoiding the retro connotations. Instead she works with colourful polyester ropes (all lovingly made in Melbourne), experimenting with spray paints and enamel dipping, all new and successful methods for colouring and molding rope into harder to hold shapes.

Before we leave the studio Makers can’t help but ask for a better look around. A large knotted curtain awaits completion, although it may have to be put on hold until her Swedish job is finished. “I love to make things,” states Sarah, “It’s been a slow progression because I don’t do anything quickly [laughsand at the moment everything takes a lot longer because the baby needs a lot of attention. I never would have guessed that this is what I’d end up doing, but it just totally clicked with me.” We bid our goodbyes as baby Blue begins to stir in her crib. As much as Parkes adores her work she loves her family more, and right now the macrame might have to wait. 


The Event: ACMI Presents Yang Fudong: Filmscapes

Launching this week at ACMI, China Up Close is a fascinating look at one of our most polarising neighbours. 

The exhibition - ACMI’s first “Up Close” event - promises to explore this endlessly intriguing society through a thoughtfully curated program of art, film, digital programs, talks and live events.

Chinese screen culture is exploding in the world’s fastest growing economy today. This rapid ascent has occurred in a country with more than 20 per cent of the world’s population, making China the second largest international economy behind the United States. New opportunities for international collaboration and market penetration are now emerging, at the same time that Chinese society is undergoing a dramatic transformation and film audiences are growing.

At the nucleus of China Up Close is an exhibition profiling the elaborate films and film installations of celebrated Shanghai-based artist Yang Fudong. Titled Yang Fudong: Filmscapes. This premiere exhibition boasts three seminal works: Ye Jiang/The Nightman Cometh (2011), The Fifth Night (2010) and East of Que Village (2007) and also features a brand new work co-commissioned by ACMI and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, titled New Women II (2014).

Yang Fudong

Yang Fudong

Born in Beijing and currently based in Shanghai, Yang Fudong trained as a painter before emerging onto the international arts scene in the early 1990s when he began working with multi-channel video installations, single-channel films and photography. Today, Yang Fudong is lauded for introducing multi-screen Chinese film installations to the West.

Drawing on Asian and Western cinema (particularly film noir and the French avant-garde), Yang Fudong’s dramatic and highly stylised film installations are rooted in the traditions of Chinese literature, philosophy and art. ACMI curator Ulanda Blair states that Fudong’s work appealed to the gallery, “not only because he’s working with the moving image; his work is also very reflective, illustrating the way that film makers can tell stories and manipulate our emotions. His work looks at the mechanisms of cinema and deconstructs those mechanisms."

The Nightman Cometh (2011)

The Nightman Cometh (2011)

Fudong’s extraordinary resume bares a critical relationship with cinema. His first film, An Estranged Paradise, premiered at the 2002 Documenta, Germany’s renowned festival of contemporary art, to rave reviews. Paradise uses a classic montage technique to track the romantic adventures and urban wanderings of a hypochondriac hero. The film was completed in 1997, thanks to funding from a patron who was willing to take a chance on a director barely out of art school and additional financing from Documenta.

It was followed by Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest, whose five installments were completed between 2003 and 2007, premiering at two Venice Biennales. Riffing on an ancient legend about seven young culturati who retreat into a sylvan life of drinking and conversation, Fudong’s Bamboo Forest follows the peregrinations of five men and two women as they linger among classic Chinese landscapes, farmers’ fields and modern construction sites.

Blair: “He [Fudong] attended art school in Hangzhou and actually studied oil painting. It’s amazing when you think that his first film, and he didn’t even study film making, for that film to premier at one of the biggest and most prestigious art events in the world is extraordinary.” 

The Nightman Cometh (2011)

The Nightman Cometh (2011)

It’s interesting to note that growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution and the more recent socialist market system meant that Fudong had limited access to Western cinema. The artist has previously spoken of preconceived notions formed through studying the films of Fellini, his imagination influencing his work even before he had opportunity to watch the movies he’d read about at art school.

Blair: “There’s a lot of influences from Western art house cinema, but he’s also been influenced by film noir and Chinese films from the 1920s and 1930s, a time when Shanghai in particular was strongly influenced by the West.”

 With his creative output very much grounded in traditional Chinese culture, Fudong is a rarity amongst his contemporaries, many of whom are now based abroad. It’s obvious that the artist still carries a deep appreciation and respect for his homeland, a theme often reflected in his work.

“We hear a lot about Australia’s relationship with China in the media from a political and economic viewpoint but building our cultural capacities are equally as important.” states Blair, “Chinese art has been incredibly popular on the international arts scene for some years now. But in Australia and more specifically Melbourne, we still haven’t really seen a lot of contemporary art from the region. We have a huge Chinese community here and it’s really important to have a Chinese artist shown. Having said that, we [ACMI] would only work with the best and I truly believe that Yang Fudong is one of the most extraordinary artists working today.”   

New Women II (2014)

New Women II (2014)

Yang Fudong: Filmscapes will exhibit from Thursday 4 December 2014.
Entry is free.

Yang Fudong is represented by ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.


The Event: Up There Store - Little Collins Street

The boys behind men’s fashion boutique Up There recently opened their third location in Melbourne. They invited Makers down to the newly acquired Little Collins Street store to check out the wares.

Excitingly, the new space is Up There’s first street level store in Melbourne’s CBD and the fit out is second to none. As always, the lads promise (and deliver) the perfect merging of service and product and these guys really know their stock inside out! 

Selling a range of classic brands including Norse Projects, Bleu De Paname, New Balance and Converse, the lads have also thrown American brand Public School into the mix. Having won every fashion award under the sun in the last few years, Public School is the ‘it’ label on the New York fashion scene and is exclusively available through Up There in Australia.




















Up There Store
208 Little Collins Street, Melbourne CBD





Sometimes you need to celebrate an achievement.

In the case of Rubber Records, an indie label grown out of a bedroom in Melbourne in 1989, it was decided that this silver anniversary should take form in a months worth of specially curated shows featuring rare performances by some of the acts that the label has played host to over its life span.

Releasing over 250 titles in its 25 year history, Rubber Records has been home to artists including Even, JET, Cordrazine, Underground Lovers, Crooked Fingers, Icecream Hands, Liquor Giants, 1200 Techniques, Ricaine, The Affected, The Grapes, The Casanovas, bZARK and The Genes (to name just a few).

Says label founder David Vodicka, “I’ve always preferred being in the background and just releasing records by artists that I love working with. This series of shows is just as much a celebration of being around a long time and sticking with those artists, as it is an excuse to try and get some of them to play again!”

With the series of one-off shows by a range of artists from the label due to start at the Northcoate Social Club in December, Makers of Melbourne thought that now was the perfect time to sit down for a chat with label founder David Vodicka, whose own personal history is steeped in the Melbourne music industry; from hosting breakfast on Triple R, founding the label and establishing one of the country's most respected entertainment legal firms as well as sitting on the AIR board. 

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Rubber Records founder David Vodicka

Hi David, thanks for the chat - Could you please take us back to the beginnings of Rubber Records, what drove you to start your own record label?

Arguably a combination of stupidity and naiveté, but in truth a love of music, and the desire to work with artists whose work I loved.

Did you have a background in the music industry, how did you know what to do to get the label off the ground?

I learned on the job, and generally just did what needed to be done. At the start I was in 3RRR and a student, so blew the savings on putting out records. Luckily we made enough to keep going, though never quite enough for me to stop being a lawyer.

Was there a “tipping point” for the label, how did it grow in popularity over the years?

Tipping point was signing Even and then Cordrazine – we moved from indie distribution to a major, and major label funding. But that was also an education on the politics of big business. Arguably labels don’t grow in popularity, their acts do, and as such you live and die on the success of your artists. When our artists were more popular, so were we.

How do you choose the acts that you work with? 

I have to like the music, the artist and the work ethic. No rules as to genre or style, just has to be interesting art.

How has the Melbourne music scene changed since Rubber’s inception?

Better infrastructure to play live, perhaps more of a community (the advent of Music Victoria, government funding programs certainly assist), but its still essentially a great city that breeds great music and talent.

Has the music industry changed in general?

Arguably not much insofar as its still about talent connecting with people. What’s changed are the means of distributing that music and the methods of communicating with media and fans.

There are a series of Rubber Records concerts taking place over December to celebrate the anniversary, how did you choose the performers for the gigs?

They’re all great acts that I’m proud to have released, even if they aren’t all equally well known. It was partly availability and willingness – I would have loved to have had Icecream Hands, The Exploders, Ricaine, TSOMM, the Liquor Giants, etc play but with limited time, availability, and everyone’s commitments, I still think we put together a great program.

25-years in, what does the future hold for Rubber Records?

Continuing to release records we love, and keeping the flame alive for those artists we’ve released in the past.

 Is it hard to sustain a record label in the age of digital downloads and music piracy?

Of course, any business that doesn’t fit squarely in the mainstream is going to be tested by diminishing revenue streams from physical, digital, streaming. But at the same time, it is possible to create a community around your artists, and label, and provided you keep releasing material that keeps people interested, then it will remain possible.

Has hitting the 25-year mark made you feel sentimental towards the ‘good old days’?

I tend to be about looking forward and am not a fan of nostalgia, and whilst  there are certainly what in retrospect seems like a stack of great adventures had with many of our acts, I couldn’t do them justice. I’d prefer to share the present and future, and that for me will be the shows we do in December - Hope to see you there!


The three-week Rubber Records residency starts at the Northcote Social Club on Wednesday 3rd December - Tickets on sale now.  



The Event: Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence at the Ian Potter Centre

One of Australia’s most irreverent and outspoken brands - Mambo - has just celebrated its 30th anniversary. With its idiosyncratic Australian sense of humour and perverse national pride, Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence celebrates this iconic clothing label in a retrospective exhibition featuring the largest collection of Mambo works ever assembled at NGV Australia from 6th December 2014 to 22nd February 2015, and a milestone publication of the same name.

Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence presents all the ground-breaking ideas, subversive politics and off-the-wall larrikinism that have made it one of Australia's most memorable brands. The exhibition includes original artworks, never-before-seen developmental work and a retrospective of the most-loved pieces of apparel produced during its controversial history, including its iconic graphic T-shirts.

Mambo: 30 Years of Shelf-Indulgence artwork by Reg Mombassa

Mambo: 30 Years of Shelf-Indulgence artwork by Reg Mombassa

From artist Richard Allan’s infamous dog print to Reg Mombassa’s iconic ‘Australian Jesus’ Hawaiian shirt, Mambo tackled racism, jingoism and commercialism – and even poked fun at the very subculture they were supposedly targeting with their clothing and accessories. 

 Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence presents the ideas and idiosyncrasies that have come to characterise this unconventional brand,” says NGV Director Tony Ellwood. “It looks at some of the many artists who have made Mambo a national household name: from the legendary Reg Mombassa, with his cheeky depictions of an Aussie Messiah, to Maria Kozic’s strangely haunting Goddesses and Richard Allen’s enduring canine – the famous farting dog – which has formed the Mambo logo for more than twenty years."

Ellwood: “The exhibition acknowledges the singular place Mambo holds in this country as a purveyor of fashion, philosophy, art and design.”

Established in 1984 by founder Dare Jennings, Mambo built its foundations on an irreverent combination of art, humour, music and surf. Pitched squarely at the average Australian, under the art direction of Wayne Golding, the label is credited with introducing art and humour to the previously logo-driven and humour-challenged surf wear industry.

Mambo Etymology artwork by Reg Mombassa

Mambo Etymology artwork by Reg Mombassa

Self-described as the ‘bastard children of surf culture’, Mambo gave rise to one of the most recognisable, authentic, vernacular, politically incorrect yet intensely political brands to rise out of the excesses of 1980s Australia. Mambo’s social commentary and political astuteness is embodied by every one of the 250 artists that have worked for the label over the past three decades.

The brand’s artistic reputation and voice was solidified in 1993, when Mambo was invited by the Art Gallery of New South Wales to exhibit alongside an international collection of surrealist art in the show, Surrealism by Night.  In 2000, the label reached new international heights when it was selected to design the Australian athletes’ uniforms for the Sydney Olympic Games.

Guest curated by Eddie Zammit in collaboration with Mambo’s original art director, Wayne Golding, and current owner Angus Kingsmill, the exhibition and publication showcase some of the finest elements of Mambo’s creative and very distinctive identity. Zammit is also the publisher of T-world magazine, the world’s only T-shirt journal documenting graphics from the past and present.

Zammit: “Here’s a homegrown brand that cares about art. When it comes to Australian brands, no one comes close to the creative energy of Mambo. The exhibition will showcase the enormous 30 year contribution of this icon.”

Mambo: 30 years of shelf-indulgence will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square in the NGV Studio from 6 Dec 2014 – 22 Feb 2015.

Entry is free.

Interview: Chris Cowburn, The Smith Street Band

They say that the tipping point is the specific moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just like a single infectious person can start an epidemic, so too can a small but precise push bring a new band into the wider public consciousness.

To the uninitiated, The Smith Street Band’s rapid ascension into the Oz music scene may appear to be a sudden onslaught, but in reality the band has been working on a steady burn for the past five years, cultivating a solid fan base since the release of their debut EP, South Facing Wall, in 2011. They’ve since followed it up with an intense touring schedule and a few more EPs and LPs thrown in for good measure; including the latest, Throw Me In The River, let loose to stellar reviews last month.

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

An afternoon of non-stop press sees Makers of Melbourne allotted a 20-minute phone slot with Smith Street drummer Chris Cowburn. There’s so much excitement surrounding the interview that I jump the gun and begin dialing his number a couple of minutes early. A voicemail message is left requesting a return call.

 Chris: “Something sort of snapped. We were touring more, and more opportunities began presenting themselves. We really all just started enjoying playing together and things just clicked. It’s grown from that. Once we released the first EP we were all really vested in it and it has certainly become my passion and it’s going pretty well so far.”

Cowburn has dialled back and we’re deep in the thick of discussing the groups “tipping point”. But playing music for a living wasn’t something that came naturally to the drummer. He openly admits that he wasn’t that phased about playing in a band for the first few months, although he enjoyed the camaraderie, it was lead singer Wil Wagner’s unique lyrics and vocal style that resonated and really got him taking the lifestyle seriously.

Chris: “The way he [Wagner] writes songs and in terms of his inspiration, he has a beautiful knack of being able to articulate himself really honestly, like no one I’ve ever met before. He maintains 100% honesty and integrity. Some people are still baffled that Wil sings in his own accent and I find it a bit perplexing that people would expect that he would change himself. With the lyrics that Wil writes, if he was trying to sing like someone else it wouldn’t work and the band would be terrible.”

Chris Cowburn Photographed by Zo Gay 

Chris Cowburn Photographed by Zo Gay 

 At times polarising, Wagner’s distinct vocals have been garnering attention since The Smith Street Band’s inception. Half spoken word, with an equally strong punk and hip-hop influence, the performer has been compared to Bruce Springsteen, Paul Kelly and Billy Bragg. As well as playing with the group, 2013 saw the prolific songwriter release a solo album, Laika, and tour nationally to support that effort.

 With focus back on the group and a national tour about to get underway to promote Throw Me In The River, I can’t help but ask the drummer about the recording of the album, which took place in the small Otways town of Forrest.

 With a population of just 170 people, The Smith Street Band formed some solid bonds with the small community. They were treated like neighbours, given beer and baked goods and thrown parties, like the infamous bonfire that ended up being the cover art for the album. Having a big city band in town became somewhat of a talking point with locals, “We made the Forrest Post, which is the monthly newsletter,” Chris says, “The lady from the Forrest Post was very excited to talk to us, I think we even made the front page.” 

And it’s not just the Forrest Post that’s paying attention. With our 20 minutes almost over Chris has several more interviews scheduled before his afternoon is up. “Things are so wild, it’s a pretty fun time right now,” he tells me before we exchange our goodbyes, “I never really had any expectations about the band but things have just grown and grown. The more gigs we play, the more people come out to our shows and to get to where we are today, I’m feel super grateful and super lucky.”  

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

The Smith Street Band Photographed by Andrew Johnson

The Smith Street Band play The Corner Hotel, Richmond from Wednesday 26th November - Friday 28th November.

Throw Me In The River is out through Poison City Records now

Artist Profile: Mel Macklin

Mel Macklin inhabits a magical world.

Tucked away in a studio in Montmorency, this graduate of the visual arts creates a style of dreamy illustrations that wouldn’t look out of place inside the pages of a children’s book – It’s a land full of pastel-hued girls with big hair and even bigger eyes.

Mel Macklin Photograhed by David Heath

Mel Macklin Photograhed by David Heath

The talented artist has been creative since she was a small child and credits her family with encouraging and discovering her talent. “I was very fortunate to know that I was always going to be an artist and no one ever said that I couldn’t, or that I shouldn’t.”
But it was only while she was attending art school that she discovered the work of Mark Ryden and a signature style blossomed.

 Macklin:  “You grow up thinking that you can’t play with dolls forever or that you can’t have your head buried in a book of myths forever, but it was almost like, ‘well this guy is’. He made the impossible seem possible.”

There’s an effervescence to Macklin’s tone that sits perfectly alongside her 'Blyth'-esque illustrations. When she confides that she’s not long since finished tidying her studio, her uplifting lilt is enough to inspire Makers to wish that we could have mucked in and helped clean the workspace, certain that we would only stumble upon hidden treasures, like a grown up Easter egg hunt.

After a childhood spent in Gipsland and teenage years whiled away in the Northern Territory (where the self proclaimed ‘petulant brat’ attended art school), Macklin moved to the U.K and began work as an arts and humanities teacher at an all girl’s school in London. While she may have only recently resettled back into the outskirts of Melbourne, it’s immediately evident that Britain still holds a special place in her heart, “I miss it everyday,” she confides, “I feel like when I left, I left a little part of me behind.” Beatrix Potter country has left its indelible mark on her work.

Salty Tears and Shipwrecks by Mel Macklin

Salty Tears and Shipwrecks by Mel Macklin

Macklin: “When you grow up reading fairytales full of pine forests, it [Europe] feels like all of your favourite stories are stepping off the page; it was quite magical to me. I feel like it’s not necessarily the country that you’re born in is the one that you have a natural kin-ship with. And I think it can be quite difficult when you have experienced other places, not to feel like Voldemort and his Horcruxes, (laughs) to give you a really bad analogy.”

Macklin speaks in sweeping illustrative terms. Her time abroad is liked to visiting Narnia, her itinerant lifestyle is that of a snail - “I felt like I was carrying around all my worldly possessions on my back, but as long as I had my paints and my pencils I’d be ok.” And when it slips that this creative once toyed with the idea of becoming a children’s book author and illustrator, we’re not left feeling surprised.

After a return to Oz in 2009, Mel and her husband David set up home in the Northern Territory where she began selling her wares at a local market. Although the tightly knit creative community in Darwin warmly welcomed her return, it wasn’t long before the couple decided it was time to set up a more permanent base in Victoria.

Mel has settled easily into Melbourne life and for the moment her days are spent sketching - With work sold in various markets around the city, walking her dogs and building up her Etsy store. There was a recent collaboration with local lipstick brand Shanghai Suzy and many other fantastical endeavors in the pipeline.

 Macklin: “I was 17 when I started art school and had a really set idea of what art should be. It was all a very idealistic way of thinking; I was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and all of those very romantic painters and didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the practical side of stuff. I wish I did but I was probably quite young and it was hard for me to grasp the idea of, ‘in order to do this you need to grow up and practice the fundamentals of things'."

With her childlike imagination and beautiful illustrations, Makers hopes that Mel Macklin never really “grows up.”

Of Fir Trees and Little Queens by Mel Macklin

Of Fir Trees and Little Queens by Mel Macklin

Interview: Joanna Wheaton

It was a passion for makeup and a history in product marketing for some of Australia’s largest cosmetics brands that lead Joanna Wheaton to launch Shanghai Suzy lipstick in August last year.

Like a majority of women, the former model turned entrepreneur was tired of paying copious amounts of money for lip products that she would wear a few times before moving on to explore the next beauty trend or formula. Joanna felt that there was a gap in the market for affordable, on-trend lip colours that delivered in terms of pigment, formula and packaging, and so, after several years of careful planning, her Melbourne based company was born.

Joanna: “I love lipstick of course and was always searching high and low for the perfect seasonal shades. I was spending $30 or more on lipsticks that I would never ever finish.  With that insight I thought that it would be great if there was a brand that would release a ‘wardrobe’ of the ‘in’ colours each season at a reasonable price point. That way I could buy them all, and my lips would be sorted for the season.”

A self confessed social media addict, Wheaton’s range of limited run lipsticks are influenced by current fashion collections, bloggers and makeup artists. With the brand still in its infant stages (Shanghai Suzy’s third season launched in September 2014), the niche makeup company, which takes its moniker from a childhood friend, has already built up a cult like following.  Shanghai Suzy is currently stocked in over 300 boutiques and salons across Australia, but despite the small businesses’ rapid expansion Wheaton proudly states that her initial philosophy remains steadfastly the same.

Joanna: “The initial ethos was to create salon quality lipsticks with fashion forward colours at a pharmacy price point. They had a few bells and whistles too of course, they’re grape bubblegum fragranced, beautifully packaged, they’re cruelty-free. I’m really proud that we’re delivering a product that was lacking in the market before.”

Creating seasonal collections has given the marketing maestro the opportunity to collaborate with local creatives. A ‘Gossling’ shade, inspired by performer Helen Croome, made up part of the autumn/winter 2014 collection and the current spring/summer season features illustrations by Gipsland born artist Mel Macklin, whose fantastical drawings are the perfect accompaniment to Wheaton’s aesthetic. “It was a perfect storm really,” says Macklin, after the artist met the burgeoning lipstick queen at The Rose Street Artist Markets. “It’s quite wonderful and rare to meet someone with such a strong vision. She really knows what she wants and she’s really good at verbalizing quite specifically what she thinks Shanghai Suzy should be.”

With plans to expand into New Zealand and the competitive American market next year, as well as developing a range of lip balms and exfoliators, the future looks candy hued for Suzy’s blonde powerhouse.

As for her upcoming new season of shades, Wheaton suggests that the current 90’s influence will continue, with  dark bold shimmery lips worn during the day.  She lovingly refers to the trend as ‘Gothic Chic’ and tells Makers that the movement toward “dark forest green lips, as well as grey, black and gold lips” is sure to continue into the winter.

Joanna: “We have many customers that buy the whole range each season and look forward to buying the range as soon as it’s released.  Many people are scared of colour or to try certain colours even though they are drawn to them - I say give it a go and experiment! Makeup to me is all about having fun. I think that’s the most important thing.” 

Interview: Rob Mason

There was a time when barbershops were ubiquitous, functioning not only as a place for a man to get his haircut, but as a community touchstone for men to meet up, catch up on the news and possibly get a stiff drink. But then the good old barbershop ceded to the ‘Salon’ and the barber gave way to the stylist, with not a straight razor or bottle of whisky in sight.

Thankfully, the traditional barbershop has undergone a serious reimagining in recent years. There seems to be no stopping the resurgence in this good old fashioned service, and a new generation of Melbourne Barbershops has given local guys the opportunity to enjoy a similar experience to those of previous generations.

Even artists like Kanye West are now employing a full-time travelling barber and although he may not (yet) be employed by Yeezy, local barber Rob Mason recently trimmed the mane of international style icon Nick Wooster while he was in the country filming a Woolmark campaign.

Rob: “I used to do a lot of work with GQ and while he was in town Nick needed a haircut. Wayne Gross (from GQ) had seen the space and the haircuts and it was totally up Nick’s alley so he just brought him down. Nick Wooster seems to want to seek out a ‘hidden gem’ as opposed to a chain. There was a film crew here and probably about four photographers and a whole heap of people just following him around for the Woolmark documentary. We had music pumping so no-one could talk to him and he slept throughout the whole thing.” 

The classically trained Mason opened his new barbershop Morris Motley, within a modern warehouse in Cremorne earlier this year. Having his own space has given Rob a newfound sense of freedom and the end result is a relaxed masculine environment.

Rob: “We’ve been open around two months, and it took about six months to put together. I used to manage a salon so I already had a clientele. It happened quite instantly when we did kick off. The business looks like a start-up but because I had that clientele and I’d been working with these products for so long it all came together really quickly.”

The Nik Bouras designed space is slick with a classic twist.

Rob: “I said, please make it look like New York.”

Clients can relax in deep leather armchairs whilst they wait for Rob to work his magic. There’s also an open lab space, where the enthusiastic hairdresser has been working on his own range of grooming products, which are due for release before the end of 2014. What originally started out as a hobby for Rob has turned into a full-blown obsession and the chance to create a legacy, doing something he loves and filling what he sees as a  substantial gap in the men’s grooming market.

Rob: “I knew that I could make a difference. Guy’s products are so primitive compared to women’s. I started getting focused on the chemistry and dermatology around two and a half years ago. I started by taking a graph of all my clientele that seemed to have dermatitis or little red marks on the skin and it was around 70%. I started studying and I realised that the ingredients in men’s products that are so bad and so cheap that they just make it worse. It seemed like a problem that was so easily fixed. When I’m not cutting hair I’m in the lab tinkering about.”

The native Tasmanian, who has called Melbourne home for the past four years, credits the burgeoning success of Motley to his years of practical experience, not to mention the credit of a very strong team behind him.

Rob: “I went to Uni and didn’t really enjoy it and the only other thing that interested me was hairdressing. I liked the idea of working by myself or one on one with a client. My girlfriend at the time used to model for salons and I would go and pick her up and see the stylists working with hair and it looked like fun. It’s been a huge slog but worth it - Like anything, you become obsessed with what you do and try to become the best at it.” 

As men pay an increasing amount of attention to their grooming routines, there’s no doubt that this men’s only hair salon will continue to evolve to serve the ever changing needs of the client.

Rob: “It [the return of the barbershop] has reintroduced guys to masculine haircuts and they need to be cut well and tailored to the head. A man is always going to feel good if he looks handsome, it’s a no-brainer.” 

Interview: Giuseppe Santamaria

With images shot for Mr Porter, GQ Australia and Harper’s Bazaar, a recently released photographic book and the much loved website ‘Men in this Town’ under his belt, Giuseppe Santamaria is a street fashion blogger paving the way for Aussie style snappers.

With Giuseppe’s images now appearing in numerous campaigns around the world and the launch of a sister website ‘Women in this Town’ a little over a year ago, Santamaria has certainly established himself as a true triple threat in the online world.

Last week, Makers of Melbourne met up with the Canadian born, Sydney based lensman, as he celebrated the Melbourne launch of his style bible ‘Men in this Town’ at Henry Bucks’ flagship Collins street store.

According to Santamaria, ‘Men in this Town’ was originally inspired by a personal need to develop his skills behind the camera. The softly spoken Giuseppe made the clever decision to start a blog in his adopted hometown of Sydney, a city lacking in sartorial snappers.

Santamaria: “There were older photographers like Saul Leiter, who had always inspired me and I loved seeing the romance in his shots. I always wanted to get into photography, although I wanted something solid to focus on. Menswear was something that I was interested in and street style was just starting to emerge and become popular in 2010, so I decided to go with that. It made sense to start in a city that didn’t have much of that going on. It was probably something that was unique at the time, and very niche focussing on men. It just took on a life of its own.”

With a background in Graphic Design, and (until recently) a full-time gig working as the deputy art director for Good Weekend Magazine, Santamaria immediately saw the value in creating his own “personal style column” and although there were many days spent out on the streets only to return home without shooting a single frame, he found the thrill of the chase was motivation enough to keep going. 

Santamaria: “It was the challenge that I liked about it. I could walk the streets for a whole day and not get a single image. But it was nice to have the chase to go along with it. I did Sydney for the first 2 years solid and I managed to get a lot, it was about being persistent and as the menswear scene has grown there’s been a lot more to photograph.”

Once ‘Men in this Town’ began to attract serious attention, Santamaria made the tough decision to quit his day job and focus on building a personal brand. There was a book deal pitched to publishing house Hardie Grant and only 2 weeks before he was due to leave his job at Fairfax, he was advised that his work would be printed in hardcover.

Santamaria: “I just needed to take that leap. There were more opportunities coming in and it seemed like the best time to do it. It was hard to choose the images for the book. There are a lot of old pictures in there that I wanted for sentimental value, but at the same time there’s only so much that you can print. I don’t think a lot of photographers necessarily know how to edit, but being from a design and editorial background I know how to kill a photo.”

With a second book, ‘Women in this Town’ due for release in mid 2015, Giuseppe is about to jet off on a whirlwind trip around the globe to find and shoot subjects for the new tome. Although ‘Women in this Town’ initially started life as a side project, the astute snapper can see the value in putting his own unique spin on women’s street style.

Santamaria: “When I’m looking for women [to photograph], it’s the same as when I’m looking for men. It’s a confidence and an almost masculine energy. It’s a bit of a challenge, because of my natural instinct, so it’ll be interesting to see what shots I come away with, and if they [his subjects] are more masculine or feminine.“

Starting in March and with only a month and a half to shoot, Giuseppe will be covering six cities including London, Paris, New York, L.A and, Makers is pleased to hear, Melbourne.

Santamaria:  “What’s great about Melbourne is that it’s more expressive, more creative. There’s a bigger artistic community and it’s more, for lack of a better term, New York like, where Sydney is more L.A. The cultures are very different, and there’s more of a buzz, more experimentation here, whereas Sydney is more laid back.” 

Santamaria: “It’s an intense schedule, but I work best under pressure. You know, at first I was scared about trying to make a living from my passion, trying not to loose the shine of the task, but if you do it your own way and be true to yourself it can work. I don’t have ambitions to create something massive, I’m happy for it to be a nice small project. I get to travel and money’s not an issue - not that it’s something that was a great concern for me - As long as I can make a living and I get to travel too, what else do you want? Money can’t buy happiness. Be surrounded by good people, be a good person, that’s what I care about.” 

Street Style: Alvin

Makers of Melbourne grabbed marketing maestro Alvin for a photo from the line for Sydney photographer Giuseppe Santamaria's 'Men In This Town' book signing at the Henry Bucks flagship store on Collins Street. Alvin was dressed for the warm evening, wearing vintage loafers, H&M shorts, Prada bag, ASOS tee and vintage jacket.

Interview: Owner of The St. Hotel, Paul Nguyen

St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street has long been a place where reputations are made or lost. This iconic seaside strip has seen businesses come and go, trying to harness a notoriously fussy consumer market.

Located at number 54, on the corner of Canterbury Road, The Saint Hotel closed its doors in mid 2012. Since that time, owners Paul Nguyen and Simon Blacher (of Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah fame) have been busy renovating the former bar and nightclub. Their aim, to reopen as The St. Hotel, a relaxed and affordable restaurant come supper club offering signature cocktails and authentic Thai food, designed by Head Chef Sean Judd, whose own background includes residencies at Melbourne stalwarts Chin Chin and Longrain.

  Chef Sean Judd 


Chef Sean Judd 

In the early 1950’s the Saint Hotel was a communal St Kilda bank and it was only after Nguyen purchased the building in 1999 that it became the central hub of an already bustling entertainment district. The former DJ saw a gap in a rapidly broadening market for a venue that offered a large-scale club environment with a bar atmosphere. The result was legendary and once again the owner hopes to tap into a cultural zeitgeist. Something that he, along with business partner Blacher, have managed to do successfully for over a decade.

Nguyen: “I started Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally around 3 years ago, with the explosion in fun, chic food with a focus on healthy cuisine. I’ve seen the success in that and wanted to bring that back to St Kilda because, until now, Fitzroy Street has catered mainly toward backpackers and fast food. I thought that it would be good to bring quality back to the area but without the price tag, so it’s accessible to both local people as well as out-of-towners. People can come in to eat some food and then kick on late with a drink. There was a definite change in the market and I saw that as a strategy to reopen The St.”

  The St. Hotel under construction


The St. Hotel under construction


Nguyen classifies the reopening of the hotel as a rebirth, a chance for him to revisit and perfect his first-born venue. The word “excitement” is mentioned and a palpable energy is evident as he describes the newly remodelled space. “I’ve been working on this project for nearly 3 years now and in the last 6 months I’ve taken on more of a project management role. I’ve had a lot of input into the interior, design and the aesthetic of it. It’s nice to be able to create something that I know that people will love and enjoy. I know that it will be functional, in the sense that it will have great food and a great atmosphere, it’s going to be huge and offer something that not many venues in Melbourne have been able to offer before.”

It’s a surefire recipe for success and Paul promises that the new and improved St. Hotel, its recently redeveloped neighbour The George (along with several high quality restaurants opening up on the busy street) will help define the renaissance of St Kilda.

Nguyen: “I think Fitzroy Street was just tired, it just didn’t have an element of quality food. Not only do we want to be successful in what we do but we also want success for the businesses surrounding us. We realise that the more businesses that are doing well, the better Fitzroy Street will become. Ideally we’d like to be known as a local hangout, not just for St Kilda residents, but also for people who might be coming in from the surrounding suburbs. I’m hoping that the next few years will be fantastic.”





Artist Profile: Kate Rohde

If a picture equals one thousand words, then the first photograph that Makers of Melbourne snaps of sculptor Kate Rohde has this piece written. Looking down to admire the resin-stained floor of her Northcote studio, we spy feet encased in clog-like shoes so spattered with the detritus of her creative expression that they camouflage almost completely. It’s as if there is this person that has sprouted out of two seeds planted in the very concrete upon which we stand.

The urge to use this image to create the connection between the artist and her work – fantastical sculptures and vessels made with a psychedelic eye for colour and form – is irresistible, not least because of the obvious reversal: her zoomorphic sculptures balanced upon small paws serving as expression of her fascination with the natural world, while she herself stands upon feet given the appearance of art.

Kate: “I guess I kind of put all my energy in to making the work. It’s pretty consuming, in a way: I get a bit antsy if I don’t get something done, some way, in each day. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t ended up being an artist then I would still make work in some capacity.”

That she ended up an artist at all owes more to serendipity than concentrated intent. Raised in a “very un-arty, tradie family” in the Dandenongs, the young Kate segued a passion for arts and craft projects in to art school.

Kate: “I never had a strong direction. I was always open to opportunity and things that came up. So I just keep going, really: I still sometimes think about getting a real career, something that’s in the drop down menu that’s in the bank. I just imagined art school would be the hold music in my life until I did something else.”

Happily for lovers of her work, that “something else” never materialised. Instead, Kate has spent more than a decade perfecting an approach to expression that first manifested with her intense love for dramatically decorative arts inspired by her passion for Rococo sculpture – an era that still deeply informs her practice.

It has been, she admits, an obsession: that mix of animal imagery, the natural world and an unapologetic flamboyance lighting in her the fire of imagination that has given rise to Kate’s own unique signature.

What is intriguing in all of this is the apparent contradiction present between the basis of Kate’s art work and the element of control (self-expressed) that impacts upon her own nature. On the one hand there is Kate the sculptor daubing her vessels with ad hoc lumps of un-worked clay and dripping resin, on the other is Kate the facilitator expressing concern at the “clutter” of her highly organised studio space.

Not so much a conflict as a paradox, and one of which Kate is very much aware. It serves as the basis for the dramatic push and pull that engenders so much of the artistic tension that draws observers in to her creations.

Kate: “Deep down I always want to be more crazy and more out of control, but deep down there is a part of me that can’t. Stephen Bush, locally, is one of my favourite artists and, the way he paints… He lets these areas be completely random and other areas that are controlled and structured and I guess that’s what I do in my work: let some areas go unconscious – dumping clay and not doing too much to it, and then the other areas that you really work it up, getting that really fine detail and finish.”

Her unique approach has garnered plenty of fans, resulting in an inspired exhibition of flora with designer florist, Cecilia Fox, as well as ongoing projects with fashion designer, Alexi Freeman and fashion super duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born (Kate’s work is currently for view as part of the ‘Express Yourself: Romance Was Born’ exhibition at the NGV).

Along with her ongoing relationships with Pieces of Eight Gallery and Karen Woodbury Gallery, and her three-day-per-week art technician role at a Melbourne private school, these are all relationships that keep Kate's work rate at a constant high hum. It is a productivity she enjoys, though focus is maintained on keeping some free space should an unexpected proposal stoke her creative will.

It’s a well-maintained balance – chaos and structure poised in life as it is in her art. Requiring constant recalibration, Kate nonetheless appears as someone for whom predictability could breed a feeling of malcontent.

Kate: “It’s always a learning process and that’s what keeps me interested – that ongoing acquiring of skills and learning of new processes. Everything I make I want to live with and I would want to have around me, and then it’s a benefit if someone else would like to have that in their lives as well.”

Event: Exhibition opening of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

This week, Jean Paul Gaultier’s childhood teddy arrived in Melbourne. The fashion designer’s first muse is one of the most touching and personal displays in the blockbusting exhibition ‘Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’, which opened at the National Gallery of Victoria on Friday.

The show’s curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot from Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, hosted the media preview for the exhibition on Thursday morning and Makers of Melbourne were invited along to listen to Jean Paul talk about his career and inspirations, before getting a sneak peak at the multi faceted fashion retrospective.


As an only child raised in suburban Paris, Gaultier asked his parents for a doll, but feeling as though Barbie was inappropriate for a boy in the 1950s, his mother and father instead gave him the soft animal he called “Nana.” 

Now tucked away safely in a glass display case, the ursine toy has been noticeably poked, prodded and coloured in. Her most obvious improvements, a customized cone bra, formed from paper and most certainly the prototype for one of Jean Paul’s most iconic creations, Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition tour cone bra and corset, which was lovingly designed as a playful wink to his grandmother’s lingerie collection.


Once labeled the ‘enfant terrible’ of French fashion, it’s this witty irreverence that has become the designer’s trademark. Madonna’s corset – which sold for $52,000 in 2012 – also features in this stunning exhibition, along with pieces designed for Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Kate Moss and one of Gaultier’s more recent muses, Melbourne born transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic, who made a surprise appearance on stage at the media preview.

Finding beauty in human diversity, Gaultier has championed the use of models of all ages, body types, ethnicity and gender on his catwalk throughout his career. “I was always shy, I always noticed difference. I always wanted to show that there’s more than one type of beauty.”

Thierry-Maxime Loriot: “There is a very strong social message in the work of Jean Paul. It was important for me to stage this exhibition because he really brought non-models onto the catwalk. It was always important for him to show different types of beauty, to show people different body shapes, different colours, different genders.”


Visitors have a rare opportunity to admire both Gaultier’s prêt a porter and couture work spanning his 38 year career, including a selection from his most recent (and final) ready to wear collection, staged in Paris just last month.

Gaultier: “You know, I am 62 years old. So, I am a dinosaur. I started working in couture at the age of 18 with Pierre Cardin, I have seen that work and a world that doesn’t exist anymore - The couture way. I have been in this business for 38 years and things have changed, now there is so much marketing, and when I think about it, I don’t have the freedom that I always had, so I think it’s better to quit ready to wear and to concentrate on couture, where I still have that sense of freedom.”

The Melbourne leg of Gaultier’s exhibition has been expanded from its previous international incarnations to include pieces from a crop of home grown muses – Oscar gowns for Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett and tour costumes for Kylie Minogue sit alongside design sketches, iconic fashion images and Gaultier designed movie costumes from films including ‘The 5th Element’.

 Gaultier: “It [the exhibition] was a great opportunity for me to present my work, what I am doing. I must say that I love it, almost as much as I loved to create it. At the time that the team came to me and asked to make an exhibition, for me it was not good, it was like something for the dead people, like when I was little I would go to the museum and the clothes that I was seeing were from the time of Queen Victoria. But now I say, OK if this is my exhibition then I will happily be dead.”