Handmade from history: Ballarat creatives showcase unique design

Ballarat and its surrounds is a beautiful part of the world. The region has been inspiring artistic minds for many generations.

The picturesque area, paired with the natural elements such as the clay on which we walk, will be harnessed as part of the Craft Lab + Design Expo in May.

This expo is an initiative of the UNESCO Creative City of Craft & Folk Arts program, where talented practitioners will trace their heritage through the language of their rare trades and crafts.

This two-weekend event will showcase up to 18 different trades, makers and crafters. Visitors will be able to explore a curated exhibition of high quality works and view live demonstrations to see how these local and unique crafts are made. Many of the hand-crafted items will also be available to purchase throughout the expo.

Ballarat was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Craft and Folk Art in 2019. The city has worked on a development of a resilient and sustainable creative sector, with a specific focus on crafts and folk art.

Ceramic artist Cassy McArthur will be one of the makers presenting their craft at the expo. She takes inspiration from the Ballarat region quite literally, her creative journey really taking off from pulling clay from her own dam to make one of her pieces. Since then, she has innovated her style while using raw materials she collects herself from the world around her, including wild clay.

Cassy’s inspiration comes from the Ballarat and South West Victorian landscapes.

“The diverse climate, varied landscape and rich palette provides ongoing opportunities for renewed engagement and observation,” Cassy said.

She will be working on new ceramic pieces at the expo, using some of her collected clays and materials, a method that many may not have seen before.

Rather than using commercial clay, Cassy prefers clays dug and used directly from the ground. This method, a throwback to yesteryear when clay was not readily available in a store, can provide sometimes unpredictable but unique results.

Cassy brings a centuries-old practice to modern-day by continuous trial and innovation.

“Inconsistencies with unprocessed foraged materials provide a desired technical challenge and scope for new and unplanned results.  Drawing on natural occurrences, I happily allow clays to crack, disform, meld, crumble and melt,” she said.

“I hope to provide the visitor with an opportunity to gain insight into my engagement with the natural environment, my processes and my outcomes. I very much look forward to visitors stopping by to chat.

“The Craft Lab + Design Expo will be a fabulous environment for people from all backgrounds to come together to experience contemporary craft and design by local creators within the framework of the Ballarat Heritage Festival.”

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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