‘What’s this?’ said Annabel.
‘Oh yeah!’ said I. ”That’s the Handmade Gallery. I’ve been meaning to go in there.’
We stood on the corner of View Point, opposite Bendigo’s traffic island fountain. We looked at the front of the shop and waited for the green man to appear at the lights.
View Point itself is a short road. Three buildings long, its main purpose is to link Main Street to View Street. An offshoot road for traffic rather than forcing a hard turn at the lights.
‘Well,’ Annabel looked to me from the handmade open sign. ‘No time like the present.’
‘But I’ve got to…’
She walked across, slide the door open and was inside. I followed.
Once inside my nose was greeted by the mixture smell of wax scented candles and clag type bath oils. This initially made for feelings of error. Had we, I thought, walked into an arts and crafts stall operated by unwashed hippies? The kind of place where semi-vagrants use scented candles to obscure the pungent odour of home brew cider farts and lice dropping in their hair (a bit like how curry is used to mask out of date meat). Could this be a shop where the word “handmade” is a euphemism for “unprofessional” and “likely to break”?
But no, thankfully, far from it. The irritating perfume on arrival very quickly dissipated, and the room began to smell like a room. Also, rather than selling shoddy bric-a-brac constructed by stoned deadbeats, the Handmade Gallery had items of high standard, seemingly made by lucid people with a pride in their craft and desire for it to be genuinely worth money. The items on shelves and hooks had wrappers and purpose and detail and sensible prices.
Sure there were a few bars of soap and jars of oil, but also rings, and clothing, and gift cards, and various other objects. Nothing that was junk or a phoney bit of craft, like trying to sell a stick because it had a really good natural shape (as I had once tried to be sold by some dude who was in-tune-with-the-earth… or so he said). Instead they had real things of appealing use. I brought a card. I’ll post it to my niece.
‘There’s a small works exhibition at the moment,’ said the lady behind the counter. ‘You (both) can go upstairs to look if you would like.’ And we did.
The term small works refereed to the size of the pieces. In most cases the canvas was no more than 20cm high or wide. As the appeal of art is in the eye of the gazer, it is hard for me to say categorically that it is a good exhibition. I do think it is good, and since it’s free and all the works are for sale, and rather cheap, I do think it is worth having a look. There was even a piece I would have brought. I didn’t though. Annabel talked me out of my spontaneity.
‘You’ve already got a card,’ she said. ‘You don’t need it.’ She’s right. I’m glad we looked though.