Posts Tagged ‘art’


December 7, 2009

It seems to be market season here at the moment—both in the sense of there being more markets around than usual, and also that it’s a good time of year to go to the markets. I love finding one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts for my special people, especially if I can buy local and support a crafter. I’m not going to kid you though, it doesn’t matter how many gifts I say I’m going to buy, I always come home with a few things for myself too.

On Saturday I met Amanda, Emily and Devika at the Gorman House Markets. These markets are held in the buildings and courtyards of Gorman House, near the centre of Canberra. Gorman House was originally built as accommodation for public servants in the early days of Canberra (1924, we are a very young city) but these days hosts arts and community groups and a fantastic restaurant, as well as the markets on Saturdays.

image by lars1942 on flickr

I love these markets. They boast a good mix of art and craft, antiques, secondhand clothing, jewellery and food. There’s always a relaxed vibe and plenty of people sitting in the sun in the grassy courtyard, enjoying coffee and cake or a plate of Gozleme. There are usually buskers. Best of all, the prices are always reasonable.

This is a good example of the sort of lovely people the Gorman House markets attracts: Saturday was Amanda’s birthday and after we all found each other, we decided to start with coffee and some raspberry coconut cake. Unbeknownst to Amanda, we had organised to bring a candle and a lighter (knowing cake would be available) and so we stuck the candle in her cake, lit it and sang ‘happy birthday’ at our table in the middle of the courtyard. The whole time we were sitting there after that, people kept walking past and saying ‘Happy birthday!’ to her. Sweet, huh?

It was the perfect weather for markets and we had a great time advising each other on the suitability of secondhand dresses, discovering new crafts, meeting other friends and chatting with stallholders. We had lunch next to the chook stall, where one chook sat peacefully on the table the whole time. I bought some lovely gifts, and managed (predictably) to come home with a few things for me:

the top one is a tiny canvas covered with lovely horse-printed fabric, the bottom one is a delicate black papercut I’ve mounted against white paper. It’s so intricate, I’ll never know how they do the trees without it ripping.

I also picked up a kilo of the most beautiful cherries I’ve had in ages.

It was definitely a successful outing and I only wish I could show you more of the beautiful things I bought—but they’re gifts, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise :)


Santa Fe

June 3, 2009

Sunday—jewel among days—was my one footloose and fancy-free day in Santa Fe. As if by some divine benevolence, the weather was beautifully sunny and balmy, so I hastened to explore this intriguing new city. Well, not perhaps hastened so much. I did have sleep to catch up on. Let’s just say I only just made it to the hotel restaurant before they stopped serving breakfast.

Full of green tea and tropical fruit (watermelon! At this time of year!), I set out on my journey of discovery. Just up the street, next to the cathedral, there were markets on in a shady, leafy park.


I managed to restrain myself to buying only a few gifts and souvenirs. There were lots of local artists, jewellers, and crafters of all sorts. This lady was carding buffalo hair, while her husband sold the knitted buffalo purses she made, along with cute creatures made of local detritus—wood, seed pods, animal bones, etc.


After leaving the markets I wandered the streets, admiring the springtime greenery and examining the adobe buildings. I found this delightful courtyard where vegetables and herbs mixed with flowers and trees, like some fantastical but functional oasis.

so green!

I came across a gelateria, and in celebration of the warm weather treated myself to a scoop of lavender and honey gelato.


(It was delicious, despite my expression in the photo above. I think I was confused by something my camera was doing.)

Of course my wanderings were not restricted to appreciation of the weather alone. Not when there is shopping to do. Santa Fe seems to have so many shops (and so many restaurants), something that results from the large number of tourists, I guess. It was fun to see all the things they sold, and imagine what I would buy if I had the luggage space (and the money). However much more interesting than the established stores was the space outside the Palace of the Governors, where native crafters were selling their creations from blankets on the ground. The prices here were more to my budget, and I also felt better about buying the wares directly from the creators as opposed to in the stores—that way I know the money’s going where it’s most deserved. More gifts and souvenirs found their way into my bag here, but somehow I avoided buying any of the turquoise jewellery that you see everywhere in Santa Fe. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since, so I might go back in my free afternoon tomorrow.

Santa Fe likes to be known as the ‘City Different’, which I guess means it has lots of international food options, lots of museums, and lots of art—both for sale and displayed everywhere you look. Not having been in many other US cities for any length of time (yet!) I can’t comment on how different it is, but it’s certainly nice. There’s a happy, relaxed vibe, and lots to see and do. Some of the most interesting sculptures I found were these fish


but there was lots more art, all around town.

Of course, a shopping trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting a yarn store. I managed to find the lovely Tutto Santa Fe just twenty minutes before their closing time. Hidden up a flight of stairs, it’s like you’ve discovered a wonderful secret.

tutto santa fe

That yellow bag on the counter at the far left of the picture contains all my purchases…but I figure I’m justified in going crazy here. I can’t buy most of these yarn brands in Australia!

This was the lovely man who helped me—unfortunately I didn’t catch his name but he was so friendly and knowledgable—and a knitter! The lady in line ahead of me was buying wool for a gorgeous baby dress and he was talking her through some of the difficult points of the pattern, and encouraging her to come back if she ran into trouble. What a darling.

tutto santa fe

I also visited Miriam’s Well to buy some Cascade Eco for my owls jumper (at last!). It too was lovely but I must have been flustered after getting lost three times, because when I finally found it I forgot to take pictures.

So it was a pretty good haul yarn-wise, although just about everything I bought was Cascade! You can see a couple of skeins of Koigu KPPPM there though…


That evening was the conference opening reception, held on a terrace in the hotel. My supervisor, Peter, and his wife turned up, and they introduced me to a few people—it was a bit intimidating going into a room full of astronomers when I didn’t know any of them! Especially feeling a bit nervous about my talk the next day. But all went well and after some authentic Italian for dinner, I put myself to bed, feeling that an impending talk demanded a good night’s sleep.