Canberra Centre Masthead

Undercurrent: Canberra’s creative talent on display

Laura Peppas

If you needed any further proof Canberra is exploding with creative talent, look no further than this month’s Undercurrent Design Market.

When launching six years ago at the National Portrait Gallery, the annual market had just 30 stallholders and attracted around 3,000 people. Now, the event is at maximum capacity with over 70 local and interstate exhibitors, a long waitlist and an attendance of at least 10,000 people.

Founder Richard Baz, who also runs independent book store The Curatoreum at the National Arboretum and Portrait Gallery, says the growth speaks volumes.

“Canberrans want to find something unique, they want something diverse, and that’s what they love most about this market,” he says.

“This year we had about 150 applicants for the stallholders, and the quality available is fantastic. We wanted to people to have the opportunity to buy direct and meet the local artist, which is always a thrill.”

Mrs Peterson Pottery, Blue Mountains.

Mrs Peterson Pottery, Blue Mountains.

Locals looking for handmade Christmas gifts will be spoilt for choice, with a range of professionally designed and handmade jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles and weaving, stationery, clothing, home wares, bags and shoes available. Held in conjunction with the DESIGN Canberra Festival, the markets will also include live music and a bar on the opening night.

“People can come in on the Friday and experience the atmosphere, then they often return the next day to really shop,” Richard says.

This year’s exhibitors include Netty Blair, Catherine Casey, Pila Rijas, Alison Jackson and BulaBula Arts.

Richard, who has a background in visual arts, says he established the markets as a way of supporting Australian designers.

Annette Blair, Burra.

Annette Blair, Burra.

“I think as a cultural institution representing Australia we should be conscious of that and what we’re selling,” he says.

“It was about collective support of eachother – I’m a small business and I want to support other businesses, and help them out because they do it for the love it, they don’t necessarily do it to make lots of money.”

While Richard says there has been demand to run the markets two or three times a year, he is reluctant.

“I think it would really lose its uniqueness and impact for the makers if we did that,” he says.

“There’s a few markets in Canberra now, and I think a lot of people just waltz in and walk out again, whereas I think here we’ve got people who come in and really get involved in the complete experience.”


The essentials

What: Undercurrent Design Market
When: 5pm to 8pm on Friday 27 November; 10am to 5pm, Saturday 28 November and 10am to 3pm Sunday 29 November.
Where: National Portrait Gallery


Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author