Ballarat Heritage Festival: rare trades in the spotlight

COVID-19 inspired many to try their hands at new skills, a throwback to a hobby their parents or grandparents may have done, and some simply picking up from where they left off. 

As we stayed home, the demand for craft and hands-on hobbies surged, making the old-school pastimes new again. The satisfaction from making something from scratch sustained many during one of the most isolating times of our lives. For those who found a passion for making, the Craft Lab + Design Expo will only ignite that interest for creating further. 

Part of the Ballarat Heritage Festival, the Craft Lab + Design Expo brings together practices passed down through generations. From the fine practice of loom weaving, complex embroidery, natural dyeing, shoe making and leatherwork, to the art of furniture making and musical instrument crafting. 

The inaugural event is all about celebrating rare trades, some that have almost been lost over time. Visitors will walk through a curated exhibition of exemplary works and experience live demonstrations of their artisan crafts. They will also be able to buy unique pieces straight from the makers.

“Ballarat is a rich heritage city where the stories of our people are captured through the crafts we practice,” said Tara Poole from Creative Ballarat. 

“The expo where heritage trades, rare skills and contemporary practice combine, will be held over two weekends. Inspired by the UNESCO Creative City of Craft & Folk Arts program, visitors will experience highly skilled practitioners trace their heritage through their love language of craft.”

Ballarat was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Craft and Folk Art in 2019. This designation focuses the city’s attention on the development of a resilient and sustainable creative sector, with a specific focus on crafts and folk art.

Those intrigued with fashion, style and the construction of historical costume will love a series of garment-making demonstrations by Sovereign Hill.

The living museum that transports visitors back to the goldfields era is nothing without its costumes, with the intricately designed pieces worn by the Sovereign Hill staff and volunteers adding that extra touch of nostalgia to the village, filling all who visit with wonder and transporting us back in time.

All of the costumes tell stories about the history of clothing dyes, innovations in sewing techniques and machines, and developments in the manufacturing of textiles, as well as showcasing the wears of former times. Historical fashions also tell stories about community values and notions around masculinity and femininity at the time.

Sovereign Hill will be hosting demonstrations on historical dressmaking and embellishment techniques, as well as the work done on the redcoat solider uniform replicas.

The Craft Lab + Design Expo is part of the Ballarat Heritage Festival, running from May 7 to 30.

The Expo

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Ballarat Mining Exchange
12 Lydiard Street North
Ballarat Central

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May
Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 May

10:00am – 5:00pm (3 ticketed sessions per day)

FREE for all ages

Wheelchair access is available via the Front and Back doors. The venue is fully accessible complete with amenities and dedicated seating options.

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