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CAMBERWELL MARKETS | Maker + Conversation facilitator | Melbourne | 2008 – ongoing

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Found objects from the Camberwell Markets are re-assembled in-situ to become wearable ‘subjects’ of conversation. Participants are welcome to create their own pieces, or wear a ready made, which can be purchased by donation.

 

This is an ongoing self-initiated project, inspired by Lynda and Ceri’s regular weekly visits to the Rotary Sunday Market – a flea market located within a car park in suburban Camberwell, Melbourne. Running for over thirty years, the market has become an institution for anyone selling and/or looking for the strange, the bargain or the collectors item. It has also become a social hub for a diverse cross section of the community. The market provides a regular venue and context to source materials, make and draw on complimentary social processes already underway within the market, engaging with this community beyond being a fossicker.

 

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While drawing on the notion of play / making in public spaces, this project honed Public Assembly’s methodology of sourcing, collating and utlising found materials. It has also assisted in testing ways to create temporal environments where people could feel inspired to source and/ or make their own pieces.  The use of humour also went a long way here – as did working with and subverting the familiar, like the pair of mid-century shopping trolley ‘benches’ which Lynda and Ceri work from.

 

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The most important aspect to this project is not the creation of an exquisite object, but the way an object might embody an idea and mediate a conversation. For Ceri, this might entail the exploration of a philosophical concept via the assembly of dismembered children’s toys – evoking humour or shock. For Lynda, it is the re-setting of found components that might evoke a story, memory or connection with the wearer.

 

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Through the donation payment process, all of the pieces on the stall are documented with its wearer. These are added into the project’s photo gallery, exhibited as a loop of images attached to the stall as another starting point for conversation. Through this process, Public Assembly plays with the normal expectations within a market or retail context – devaluing the physical object and valuing instead the negotiation between the maker / observer; seller / buyer.

 

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The project provides an opportunity for Public Assembly to work on a range of scales – from the assembly of small objects as if they were small 1:1 models to be worn on or near the body, to utilising the object as a mediator for conversation, to the establishment of a broader social network – pieces providing a mode of interconnection between wearers – moving far beyond the physical space of the marketplace. In this way, this project becames part of the community of temporal market stall holders while creating a new community of people wearing Public Assembly’s jewellery pieces.

 

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“My favourite stall is run by two artists called Public Assembly. They scour the market for objects that spark their imagination, then transform what they’ve found into the contents of their stall. There are no price tags: purchases are by donation. What happens here encapsulates the spirit of the market. There’s improvisation and trust, and the conjuring of marvels from other people’s junk.”


Michelle de Kretser. Odds and endings. The Age. Saturday August 29, 2009