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.

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The Event: Falls Festival, Mt Duneed Estate 2015

When word spread of bushfires along the Great Ocean Road on Christmas Day 2015, there was little thought spared for the Victorian location of the annual Falls Festival and more concern (rightly so) for the families who had watched helplessly as their homes burnt alongside the dense bushland surrounding Erskine Falls.   

It was only on Boxing Day, as out of control flames still ravaged the coastal towns of Lorne and Wye River that festival organisers knew that they had a very big decision on their hands – make some serious changes or risk the safety of several thousand attendees.

And make some serious changes they did. In a little over 27 hours the folk behind one of Australia’s longest running music festivals managed to relocate the entire event from its longstanding base in the foothills of Lorne and into a safer location, Day on the Green venue and winery Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong.

It was an epic effort by the team and a large group of volunteers who were still busy setting up as festivities got underway on Monday 28th December. While backhoes and cranes silently lifted equipment and tradies were hard at work putting the finishing touches on the main stage, a select group of performers entertained the first wave of ticketholders in the Grand Theatre, getting the audience psyched for four days of entertainment in the brand new space. 

    'Wei  rd   Al' Yankovic performs on night one of the 2015   Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

'Weird Al' Yankovic performs on night one of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

While the grounds weren’t overly busy it was nice to see the gleeful faces of punters as they strolled through the Mt Duneed entry gates, the majority of whom had no doubt been glued to social media over the Christmas weekend, patiently waiting for news on the future of the 2015 festival.   

As afternoon rolled into evening excitement built around the theatre, as we early arrivers prepared ourselves for a performance by American comedian ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic. Although his set was peppered with technical difficulties it was still a great time – no one knows showbiz like ‘Weird Al’ and with fat suits, Segway’s and several costume changes thrown into the mix, everyone seemed happy enough to trade a couple of electrical blackouts for hits like ‘Fat’ and ‘White and Nerdy’.

 

 In the interest of full disclosure there are two things that I need to mention:

1) The ‘new’ location meant that this reviewer was able to travel to the venue everyday from the comfort of her own Melbourne apartment.

2) Sometimes the best entertainment happens in the VIP area (but that’s a story for another time).

 

 After ‘Weird Al’ wrapped, the executive decision is made to hit the road and skip a late night slot by Art vs Science. On the drive back to Melbourne my companion and I listen to a compilation of the best of the worst of the 80s,  the only appropriate thing to do after seeing one of the decade’s biggest cult stars.    

   Enjoying the view. Punters soak up the atmosphere at Mt Duneed Estate, the location of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Enjoying the view. Punters soak up the atmosphere at Mt Duneed Estate, the location of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Day two, otherwise known as Tuesday, starts off well. After watching lovable larrikins Dune Rats pelt the amassed audience with an array of sex toys and blow up dolls this reviewer is scolded by a fellow member of the media for missing Leon Bridges’ show earlier that afternoon. A couple of minutes are spent contemplating his sideshow at 170 Russell before I’m informed that it has completely sold out. There’s no time to be sad as latest it-girl indie pop princess Halsey struts her way onto the main stage and instantly wins over the throng with a selection of tracks off her debut album, ‘Badlands’. Originally discovered on YouTube, the New Jersey native has attitude to spare and maintains this momentum for her entire 50-minute slot.    

Next on the agenda is Paul Kelly and the Merri Soul Sessions, featuring performances by Dan Sultan, Ash Naylor, Vika and Linda Bull and Clairy Browne. We watch the set while sitting on a patch of dry grass and eating delicious Hare Krishna dinners, content to relax and let the smooth stylings wash over us like waves, not to be confused with Wavves, who storm the stage straight after Kelly, dedicating their set to Motorhead front man Lemmy, who had sadly passed away that morning. After sticking around for a couple of songs I wander back to the VIP area to grab a drink and settle in for some serious people watching. 

Resident DJ Eddie spins classic disco and offers complimentary massages to the motley crew dancing in front of him, some of whom look like they could desperately use a nap after working around the clock to get the event up and running.            

   Danny Beusar, singer and guitarist for Brisbane based Dune Rats rocks out on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Danny Beusar, singer and guitarist for Brisbane based Dune Rats rocks out on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Time out between sets on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.  

 

Time out between sets on day two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.  

   Making her Australian debut, indie pop singer Halsey showcased tracks off her album 'Badlands' on evening two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Making her Australian debut, indie pop singer Halsey showcased tracks off her album 'Badlands' on evening two of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

Darkness falls and Wavves make way for perennial favourites Hilltop Hoods. Hilltop Hoods are followed by crowd pleasers Wombats. Their set finishes at around 1am and once again we’re back in the car for the journey home.

Wednesday, day three, is a scorcher. Attendees struggle to keep cool as festival organizers erect shade cloths and security hose down the crowd near the main stage. Melbourne locals Alpine have the right idea; they’ve made their entrance carrying pineapple shaped cocktail glasses, although the group still looks like they’re suffering in the heat.

There’s time to spare before Gary Clark Jnr is due on stage so we hike up the hill to watch an angelic sounding Jarryd James. His set ends and once again we’re thrust into the glaring afternoon sun, there’s a race to get back to the main stage before Jnr’s blues tinged show begins, although the heat makes it feel like we’re wading through toffee. The American performer’s so great that I have plans to stay and watch the entire show, unfortunately the temperature gets to me after a handful of songs and I have to leave the main stage area to find myself some shade. The tracks that I do manage to catch before venturing off sound pitch perfect and I make a mental note to download his entire back catalogue on Spotify.  

There’s a moment every year at Falls when the sun dips and the temperature drops to almost freezing conditions. Amazingly Mt Duneed Estate doesn’t seem to work in the same way as Erskine Falls and once late afternoon sets in we still find ourselves comfortable in short sleeves – for once there’s no need at all to rug up in the usual winter layers.

   Temperatures soar on day three - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Temperatures soar on day three - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Melbourne Ska Orchestra are trying their darndest to bring back dancehall flavours. The Wednesday evening crowd is digging the beats and follow up performances by Rufus, Block Party and Disclosure means that the night is one giant party.

Usually by New Years Eve energy starts to lag. It’s the classic combo of heat (and freezing cold), lack of sleep and a steady diet of festival food that leaves everyone feeling slightly worse for wear on the last day.

I’m lucky that I’ve had the luxury of going home each night, especially in such dry conditions. Although beautiful, Mt Duneed has morphed into a dustbowl and by night time my companion and I are grateful to be able to wipe the dirt of the day off our shoes and hands.

   Crowd favourites King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard entertain the masses in the Grand Theatre on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Crowd favourites King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard entertain the masses in the Grand Theatre on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Melbourne's own Phoebe Baker (Alpine) hits all the right notes on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Melbourne's own Phoebe Baker (Alpine) hits all the right notes on day three of the 2015 Falls Festival at Mt Duneed Estate - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Grammy nominated Courtney Barnett gives it her all on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Grammy nominated Courtney Barnett gives it her all on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Kele Okereke of British rock group Bloc Party plays on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Kele Okereke of British rock group Bloc Party plays on night three of the 2015 Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

My afternoon begins with a super mellow routine by Meg Mack. She’s attempting to sing while holding on to her sunhat, but gives in and allows the wind to blow the stylish accessory off her head and towards the back of the stage. Mack finishes her show and the early afternoon crowd cheers the heartfelt performance. The temperature is peaking as I ease my way back up to the Grand Theatre to watch Money for Rope. I don’t really mean to, but end up staying for their whole act, they’re good fun and it’s so much cooler in the tent. 

The evening passes in a blur of Kurt Vile, The Maccabees, Harts and Sweden’s own Elliphant, who performs while wearing a Falls Fest volunteer t-shirt.   

2015 is coming to a close and excitement is thick in the air. As night settles in I catch an encore performance by Borns (after the cancellation of The Avener leaves a gap in the schedule). The young rock group are super talented so it’s a pleasure to watch them again – this time playing in front of a much larger and energized pack.

   Festival fashion on New Year's Eve 2015  - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Festival fashion on New Year's Eve 2015  - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Feeling the heat on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Feeling the heat on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Meg Mac perfroms in style on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Meg Mac perfroms in style on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

Before I know it it’s time for Foals, the London based band chosen to ring in the new year with style. This is the show I’ve been looking forward to the most over the past few days and they don’t disappoint. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis dives off the stage and heads into the assembled mass several times during the show and by the time they wrap things up the crowd seems to have reached maximum hyperactivity – the people are ready to keep the party going. It’s a tough act to follow but Django Django don’t appear to have any issues, they put on a killer set and wish everyone a great 2016.

As Django Django’s last song winds up we sneak out of the grounds via a hole in the fence and wander back to our car. The sun has set on yet another great Falls Festival and despite the unusual circumstances we've enjoyed four great days of music, performance, food, vintage fashion and general people watching. It’s been a fantastic effort by the Falls group and the seemingly tireless volunteers, who have managed to raise over $139,000 for bush fire relief via the release of a one off New Years Eve Appeal ticket, day parking rates and collection tins onsite.

It’s been an awesome, albeit hot, four days and no matter where the show ends up in 2016, you can guarantee that it won’t ever be boring.

   Money for Rope entertain in the Grand Theatre on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Money for Rope entertain in the Grand Theatre on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Swedish singer/songwriter Elliphant wears a Falls Festival volunteer t-shirt while performing on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

 

Swedish singer/songwriter Elliphant wears a Falls Festival volunteer t-shirt while performing on New Year's Eve 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback. 

   Waiting to celebrate the New Year, Falls Festival 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

 

Waiting to celebrate the New Year, Falls Festival 2015 - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.

   Yannis Philippakis, lead singer and guitarist of British indie group Foals crowd surfs after ringing in the New Year at Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.   

 

Yannis Philippakis, lead singer and guitarist of British indie group Foals crowd surfs after ringing in the New Year at Falls Festival - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback.   

The Event: Andy Warhol | Ai WeiWei launches at the NGV

 

Ai Weiwei describes Andy Warhol as the "perfume" of the New York art scene in the late 20th century. Even when he wasn't present, Warhol's persona lingered heavily in the air, influencing everyone around him. 

It's a poetic sentiment from the Chinese born artist who never had the opportunity to meet Warhol, instead only briefly spotting him across a room somewhere in New York in the early 1980s. 

On display now and until the 24th of April at the National Gallery of Victoria, Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei features over three hundred artworks (including five pieces commissioned specifically for the exhibition). Surprisingly it's the first time that Warhol and Weiwei have been showcased side by side, illustrating the striking similarities between the two modern artists.

   Forever Bicycle (Ai Weiwei) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

Forever Bicycle (Ai Weiwei) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

This stunning exhibition has been curated to create an open dialog between the two men, Pittsburg native Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei, one of China's most controversial citizens.  

In 2011 the editors of ArtReview dubbed Weiwei "the most powerful artist in the world". Although his work has reached world wide status, Weiwei is arguably better known as a living symbol of the struggle for human rights after being held as a political prisoner by the Chinese government - to this day he cannot travel without permission from Chinese authorities. 

Like Warhol, Weiwei's artistic output has merged with his personality, elevating both men to celebrity status -  using a combination of sculpture, film, photography, painting and drawing to express often politically charged opinions.    

 

   Letgo Room (Ai Weiwei) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback   

 

Letgo Room (Ai Weiwei) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

The exhibition features some of Andy Warhol's most famous works, including screen prints of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Mao Zedong, as well as original copies of Interview Magazine (founded in 1969) and a recreation of his famous New York studio, known simply as 'The Factory'. 

Also showcased is Ai Weiwei's 'Letgo Room', the controversial display created out of lego donated by art patrons from around the world after Lego refused to supply their patented bricks for the project. Built specifically for the NGV, the 'Letgo Room'  features plastic portraits of 20 Australian activists including Rosie Batty and Julian Assange, a thoughtful tribute to the power of the freedom of speech.

   Screen prints of Mao Zedong (Andy Warhol) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

Screen prints of Mao Zedong (Andy Warhol) - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback

The Event: Four Pillars Gin opens in Healesville

If there was one event guaranteed to bring Makers of Melbourne out of self imposed retirement, it was the launch party for the brand-new Four Pillars Gin distillery in Healesville.

Housed in a former timber yard, our mates at Four Pillars threw open the doors to their spacious new home on Monday 2nd of November, inviting a select group of media and friends to christen the space and sample delights from the latest edition to the family, 'Jude', the handsome copper still responsible for producing some of Melbourne's finest boutique spirits - named after co-owner Stuart Gregor's mother, 'Jude' is the big sister to 'Wilma', the original Four Pillars still who sat proudly in the company's first distillery in South Warrandyte. 

   The Four Pillars Gin Distillery in Healesville - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback 

 

The Four Pillars Gin Distillery in Healesville - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback 

The new space tops off an impressive two year run for the Four Pillars team - the small-batch gin is now sold nationally through retailers like Dan Murphy's and can be found in numerous bars across the country.

Although Gregor and his business partners will be forever grateful for the use of what was essentially the Yarra Burn back-shed, this strategic move has seen the distillery establish itself smack bang in the middle of the Yarra Valley wine trail, capturing a lucrative market by offering up a fine selection of gin based cocktails and locally produced food, served up in the modern timber finished open-plan dining hall. 

    Four Pillars Gin Distillery launch party - images courtesy of Kirsty Umback

 

Four Pillars Gin Distillery launch party - images courtesy of Kirsty Umback

The distillery will also play host to short courses and other gin appreciation programs, all designed to spread the Four Pillars word to both a national and international audience. The team has plans to bring in the occasional weekend food truck and will continue with their experimental ways of working, blending the traditional Juniper based spirit with a mixture of indigenous botanicals and incorporating the use of wine barrels into the ageing process. 

   Four Pillars Gin launch party - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback 

 

Four Pillars Gin launch party - image courtesy of Kirsty Umback 


Four Pillars Gin Distillery
2A Lilydale Road, Healesville 3777

(03) 5962 2791

Hours
Sun to Thu 10.30am–5.30pm
Fri & Sat 10.30am–9pm


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.

Kram

Kram

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.

SBTRKT

SBTRKT

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.

Alt-J

Alt-J

 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.

Interview: 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. 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

 

 

 

Interview: 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: 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.”

Interview: Talia Daroesman, Lovers Court

“Hoop dreams echoing off hot bitumen” is how designer Talia Daroesman sums up the aesthetic of her Lovers Court debut leisurewear collection.

Talia: “It [Lovers Court] came about just over a year ago. Since I was little I’d always wanted to have a clothing brand, that’s been my goal forever. It took me a while to know what I wanted it to be, how I wanted it to be, and it was almost a year and a half ago that I finally got the idea and name together. I always just wanted to have it as something I could be creative with, have fun with, and, at the end of the day enjoy it.”

Lovers Court has taken a contemporary attitude toward establishing itself as a brand, with the creation of non-seasonal collections and a strong emphasis on unisex prints and design. As Daroesman explained to Makers of Melbourne when we sat down over drinks “I don’t want to have the pressure of having to put together a winter range and then a summer range. I want to have fun with it and more flexibility.”

Flexibility describes this new label well. Lovers Court draws its inspiration from an undeniably urban influence, though with a modern approach that encompasses inspiration from equal parts hip-hop and traditional American street wear as much as it does the dizzying hyper-density of Asian megapolises.

After graduating from RMIT in textile design in 2008 there was time spent abroad, harvesting inspiration in Hong Kong, working part-time and developing a business plan, that inadvertently “killed” her creativity. “I think that’s why it took me so long to get started but now I’m glad that I didn’t do anything earlier.”

LoversCourtLaunchParty_Heather Lighton043.jpg

Talia: “There were a few instances of starting something but not really getting into it, starting something else but not feeling it, and knowing that it wasn’t the right time. Knowing that I needed more time to figure out what I wanted to do to get some inspiration back.”

For Daroseman, the decision to focus her energy on street wear was a no-brainer. It’s a culture that she connects with, and with her baby bangs and large hoop earrings, it’s immediately obvious that she lives and breathes the lifestyle. 

For now Lovers Court consists of a unisex range of cotton and silk scarves, bucket hats, 5-panel caps and printed t-shirts. Featured throughout the collection are three recurring digital and screen print designs - a monochrome colour palette struck through with flashes of pink. The prints take cues from typography saturated street wear combined with the grid and pixel aesthetic of early computer-generated graphics. As Talia explains, these versatile pieces and patterns are designed to be built up to clash and vibrate against each other or alternatively to be worn as standalone statement pieces.

Beyond the debut collection, Daroesman hopes to expand into cut & sew garments in early 2015, starting with a range of women’s down-tempo, sport luxe sweats, with plans to then expand into menswear, staying true to the brand’s unisex vision.

Talia expresses a strong desire to keep her production local, as long as the label can continue to afford the growing cost of manufacturing in Melbourne (Her printed cut & sew pieces are to be produced in Abbotsford, while the debut collection t-shirts have been screen printed in Fitzroy).

Until she can afford to work on the label full-time she continues to design her collection around her job in a busy Melbourne café, her free time devoted to building a solid online presence. There’s brief mention of a potential Pozible campaign, after watching several other designers take the crowd-funding route and finding success. “I think it’s awesome. People get something in return so it’s not like they’re giving away to charity. Melbournians like to support their local fashion scene.”

Photos – Heather Lighton

Interview: Robert Muinos

Perhaps better known in Melbourne music circles as the guitarist in Melbourne’s 9 piece soul-rock group Saskwatch, Robert Muinos also performs with garage rock collective Dorsal Fins and now to top that off, the seemingly tireless Muinos has just released his first solo single, showcasing his own talents as a singer-songwriter.

Press Shot 1.jpg

Earlier this year and in the midst of a busy tour, Muinos persuaded a few of his Saskwatch bandmates to forgo a highly anticipated week long break to head back into the studio to help record his forthcoming debut EP.

Having done the hard yards touring both nationally and internationally, Robert felt that the time was right for greater introspection and his single, I Was Dreaming, captures the sound of a musician forged, not depleted by time on the road.            

It’s been an exhausting schedule and it comes as no great surprise when Muinos mentions that he has just spent a whole weekend in bed recovering, during our recent phone conversation. Having just returned from Big Sound, where both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins performed, the performer is understandably enjoying some downtime before turning his focus to a run of solo shows.

Robert: “I’ve tried to write music for both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins before and it always comes out really shit (laughs). I love the music that I play with them [Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins], but whenever I’ve had those great moments where a song comes out of me it’s always been a folk thing. I never made a conscious decision to write music like this, it just happened and it got to the point where I just thought, if this is what’s going to happen every time I write a song it must be for a reason so I should just go with it and see what happens."

With a strong alt-country feel, you can almost hear the kilometers rolling by in the drums and bass line that accompany I Was Dreaming. Late nights and hangovers run deep in a yearning harmonica while the Rob’s vocal melody seems to search for something naively optimistic. It’s a change of direction for the performer, but not completely out of left field.

Robert: “For me this is my chance to be the boss, which is nice. The single and the EP were recorded with Ed, the drummer from Saskwatch, but as far as the live band goes its Jim Lawrie on drums. I wanted him because we’d just done a tour together and we get along really well. We used to go to each other’s gigs all the time and became really good friends. You want to make music with people that you love.”

The theme of love plays a prevalent role in the film clip for I Was Dreaming and Makers is happy to hear the young singer speak highly of his fellow musicians. There’s praise for drummer Lawrie, who also sidelines in Dorsal Fins, as well as mates in Eagle and The Worm and The Bamboos. Muinos assures us that the Melbourne music scene is for the main part a nurturing and supportive industry.

 Robert: “We’re all just putting music out there for people to hear and for the public to decide whether they like it. I think that there are lots of people out there that have a kind of, competitive vibe when it comes to playing music. I just find it fucking weird. What’s the point in being competitive about it? Just be supportive of the whole scene.”

While he may be proudly supporting his fellow bandmates, Makers can’t help but wonder how accommodating the mainstream music industry is when it comes to up and coming musicians like Rob. With record contracts now few and far between, more and more artists are independently releasing albums, paying for production and studio sessions out of their own pockets.

It’s a hard slog, but for Robert the rewards are paying off ten fold. “It feels good. I think some people like it [the single] and some people think it’s ok. It was pretty scary before but now that it’s released I’m just letting it do its own thing. I did my best to raise the kid and now it’s going to have to look after itself, I’m letting him be free.”

Robert Muinos launches his debut single I Was Dreaming on Thursday October 16th at The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

Interview: Kloke Designers, Amy and Adam Coombes

There’s a warmth to Amy and Adam Coombes that resonates through their designs. An initial phone conversation with Adam and a visit to meet Amy at the Kloke boutique culminates in a sunny Saturday morning meeting where the Makers team is welcomed into the couple’s Fitzro studio.

Launching their Kloke label in 2011, both Amy and Adam have a deep connection to the Melbourne fashion scene. Between the pair, the Coombes’ have worked with some of this city’s most lauded designers. An important pedigree when it came to establishing their own range of men’s and women’s clothing.

Kloke: “The initial intent of the brand was to produce considered products that are loved season after season. Over the years we have been able to combine our differing ideas and bring together what is now Kloke. The brand continues to evolve and being able to work together to create something that is a part of who we both are is a continuous motivation.”

We’re sitting around a wooden worktable in the centre of the Kloke studio. It’s a small space, shared with a local artist, whose stunning macramé wall hangings fight for attention next to bulging racks of Japanese fabric, sewing patterns and current season samples. With son Remi sitting happily nearby, soft music playing and dappled sunlight falling through a nearby window, the open plan room is comfortable with an air of creative energy.

Sipping takeaway coffee from a nearby deli, the Coombes' begin explaining the ethos behind their growing brand. There’s talk of fluidity, not only in shape and fit, but also a growing sense of ease in their design aesthetic. Over the past few seasons they have taken the steps to develop their range with experimentation in both pattern, fabrications and knitwear, which has been added to both winter and summer collections.  

Kloke: “Our intention is to create strong lines and classic silhouettes that have an effortless feel but considered approach. The longevity of a piece starts from the initial idea, the fabric choice and the shape of the garment, we ask ourselves how each piece will wear and make sure it fits with Kloke.

We have been really driven to create collections that work back with each season, in some ways it is like building on a wardrobe. The collections evolve but previous pieces still remain relevant and each collection does still see us standing true [to] who we are and what we believe and want the business to be.”

With business sustainability at the forefront of their minds, the design duo has been careful to build the brand at their own pace. Although they launched three years ago and have been stocked in numerous high-end stores around Melbourne, it wasn’t until late last year that the couple opened their own retail space on Fitzroy’s bustling Brunswick street. Although they casually mention plans to expand at some point in the future, at this stage the busy pair is more than comfortable managing one boutique and a successful online store.

It’s a business plan that works well around their frequent trips to Japan, where they source fabric and sell their designs. The Japanese market has been very receptive to the Kloke brand, not surprising when you consider the clean lines and effortless sophistication Amy and Adam produce season after season.

Kloke: “The conceptual influence comes from our lives and the things we do each day, from all the things around us. This does change seasonally and also depends on life, where we’ve been, what we’ve been listening to, watching looking at and the things we find. From a garment  perspective, we’re generally into designers who’ve altered the way we look at cut  or have changed our perception of design. From the method of how Cristobel Balenciaga cut a sleeve to the way Rei Kawakubo alters the design process. We hope that by looking wide the outcome is something new.”

Although there are rumblings of further international interest, the couple is quick to point out the limitations of Aussie labels selling into larger overseas markets. The difference in season may cause issue, as well as a lack of understanding as to how a smaller brand may fit into a larger fashion spectrum.

With so much to look forward to, Makers can’t help but ask for a sneak peak into the forthcoming summer collection. There’s excitement and a mention of “so much goodness” as we are taken through the new season garments.

Kloke: “We have expanded on our knitwear collection and have some great colours in the range. We have also expanded the dress offering in our women’s range using a Japanese viscose that has a beautiful drape.

The snake in the grass print has been used across men’s and women’s, in denim and cotton shirting. A firm fabric favorite and standout in the collection is the double mesh nylon used in the women’s range. We have also introduced some new trouser shapes for men.”

The future looks bright and Makers can’t help but think that this brand has been built to go the distance. Kloke is a Melbourne label that we predict will be going strong for many years to come.

Kloke: “ Sustaining the business long term is really important to us, and this comes from many aspects, not just the design of the garment. We plan on Kloke being around for a long time and to help ensure this we have been developing and growing at our own pace."

Interview: Boy & Bear guitarist Killian Gavin

There were high expectations before the release of Sydney-based alternative folk-rock band Boy & Bear’s second album, Harlequin Dream. That’s no surprise considering the group’s 2011 debut, Moonfire, garnered five ARIA awards and achieved a platinum status on the Australian album charts. The band, riding high on that success, hit the road for 18 months of solid touring both home and abroad, playing extensively throughout America and Europe.

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Although they’ve built up a healthy amount of frequent flyer points, the band has never been one to neglect their loyal Australian fans. Boy & Bear have ensured they return to their motherland for not one, but two national tours in 2014, with a massive 30-date regional tour taking place earlier this year, and a national tour currently underway. It’s been a hard slog for the boys, but it’s a journey that lead guitarist Killian Gavin describes as a good and incredibly rewarding ride.

In the lead up to their two shows at The Palais Theatre last week, Makers spent a late afternoon in the company of guitarist Killian who, along with singer David Hosking, Timothy Hart (drums and vocals), Jonathan Hart (vocals, banjo, mandolin and keyboards) and bassist David Symes, formed the group in 2009.

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Killian: “I’m sure that a lot of people find themselves in a similar situation when they’re busy like this and time flies, but I’ve found this year in particular to have gone remarkably quick. We started touring last year just after the record came out then we had a little bit of time off in January, then we left in the beginning of Feb and we haven’t stopped since. Now here we are in… what month is it?”

 There’s good-natured laughter: while most travellers would be in the midst of a heavy jet lag, the performer is in fine spirits, obviously happy to be back on home turf.

 Of course there’s no getting around his memory lapse is the ultimate rock cliché; a young band hits the road and loses track of time, dates and names of cities. For Boy & Bear, the recent American tour also included travel in a deluxe tour bus – the vehicle serving as the backdrop to a series of shots posted on social media.

For the group, the vehicle itself proved something of a significant milestone: it was the band’s “first bus”, indication in concrete form that Boy & Bear has reached a certain level of success.

Killian: “We haven’t been doing this for a long time, but long enough to gain an understanding of how things work. We’ve always wanted to be in a band that builds slowly with touring and I think that’s how you build up a credible fan base. Fans that like every song on the album, not just the one song that they’ve heard on the radio.”

Tune in to most Aussie radio stations and it’s near impossible to not hear either Southern Sun or Three Headed Woman, the first two singles lifted off Harlequin Dream. The album was recorded in Sydney, which allowed the band to stay close to friends and family. As a result, it reflects a far different personality to the debut album recorded in Nashville.

Killian: “Fortunately we were off to a great start with the first record but this record has been better in many ways. It has helped build a stronger audience for us overseas and that’s why we’ve been busy touring nonstop, to make the most of it while there’s so much momentum.”

And the momentum doesn’t seem set to stop anytime soon. Not only are there more dates booked in Canada and America (the band’s fame boosted by a recent appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien) there’s also a slew of Australian dates to fill up their September and October schedules, including a sold-out show at The Opera House.

Killian: “Sydney shows are probably always a bit more nerve-wracking because your family and friends are in the crowd. Just to make it a little bit more intimidating you’re also playing at the Opera House. To be completely honest I’m super excited to be playing it, it’s going to be a fun night.”

The future is sure to hold plenty more fun for Boy & Bear but near the top of the guitarist’s priority list is some more time off.

Killian: “We’ll finish up in December and after that I’m going to take about four weeks off and do nothing. I’m really going to make the most of it.”

He laughs, but we can’t help but think the summer break won’t last long.

The Event: Opening of Rue & Co.

The pristine 'Paris' end of Collins street is not typically a late night hot-spot, but Thursday night saw this usually quiet end of the CBD overrun by the bad and the beautiful, with the VIP opening of pop-up street-food quarter Rue & Co.

Jimmy Grants by George Calombaris, Kong BBQ by Chris Lucas, and St Ali by Salvatore Malatesta will now ply their own unique menus from sister shipping container kitchens based at 80 Collins street. The soiree took place in the fairy-light-decorated courtyard, where invited guests were plied with a delicious selection of food and champagne, topped off by killer espresso martinis designed by champion barista Matt Perger.

St Ali executive chef Andrew Gale sees the cult coffee institution's taking part in Rue & Co. as a great opportunity. 

“We’re rubbing shoulders with the high flyers on the restaurant scene. We’re a café, we’re a separate entity, but now [café’s] are starting to raise our game. The food is getting there."

For Kong BBQ, this pop-up gives Executive Chef Ben Cooper the first chance to introduce the soon-to-open restaurant's food to the public, while Jimmy Grants will bring the best souvas from the popular Fitzroy restaurant to Melbourne city's white collar set.  

Rue & Co. is now open to the public (Friday 2nd May) from 7am.

St Ali head chef Andrew Gale (R)

St Ali head chef Andrew Gale (R)

Celebrity Chef & owner of Jimmy Grants, George Calombaris with guests

Celebrity Chef & owner of Jimmy Grants, George Calombaris with guests

Chicken wings from Kong BBQ

Chicken wings from Kong BBQ

Kate Campbell Stone

Kate Campbell Stone

Salvatore Malatesta & Manager of St Ali South, Joanne 

Salvatore Malatesta & Manager of St Ali South, Joanne 

The 35 metre high artwork by renowned local street artist Rone at 80 Collins Street

The 35 metre high artwork by renowned local street artist Rone at 80 Collins Street

Espresso Martinis

Espresso Martinis