I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is about all these new markets springing up everywhere – specifically in Cape Town, because I’m more aware of them here, where I am based. But it seems that elsewhere around the country there are also lots of new market events happening – and I’m slowly but surely tracking them down and trying to suss them out.
And they are not all created equal.
One of the latest ones I’ve discovered is in Durban, and what I’ve read about it fills me with enthusiasm and excitement, especially since I’m a born and bred Durbanite. Although I’ve lived in the Mother City for 17 years (almost long enough to call myself Capetonian!), I am still enormously proud of the creative, bohemian spirit that emanates from Durbs. It is well-embodied in a relatively young but evidently vibrant event called iheartmarket, held on the first Saturday of every month in the vicinity of that iconic haunt of the hippest, Beanbag Bohemia.
From what I can ascertain, the market is a truly home-grown affair, one that has grown organically through the creative efforts and passion of a few highly creative young people. In my opinion, this is the best kind of market: one with authenticity, soul, integrity and depth. Unlike so many of the events that have been started as formulaic money-making exercises recently.
Call me cynical (or call it sour grapes – I still drive a 20-year-old car!), but I’ve been organising markets and exhibitions for the past 13 years, having started as a naïve young 25-year old with a good idea, no money and not a clue how challenging it can be! I loathe it when it appears that an event or market has been created because the organisers are jumping on some perceived bandwagon that will lead them to fame and fortune. Very often these events are simply carbon-copies of other, longer-established events, without an ounce of soul or originality to boast of.
There is nothing sadder than a market that has all the right elements… in theory – but that completely lacks atmosphere, and… indeed, heart.
That’s why I appreciate the iheartmarket initiative so much, and it is definitely on my list of places to visit when I do my next prodigal visit.
The reason this is so topical for me is that I had a great conversation today with a young creative who will be exhibiting at another market that I’m involved with in a couple of weeks time, the Vintage and Collectibles Fair that happens at the at the popular Old Biscuit Mill complex in Woodstock every Sunday from 10-3.
Cara Siegers and her business partner Victoria Rhomberg are the fledgling team behind Eco-aware Homeware. Cara – who is a finalist in the 2010 Woolworths/House & Leisure Green Designers Competition to be showcased at the Design Indaba at the end of February – describes their range as follows:
I think the concept we were talking about as regards the difference between some of the twee ‘crafts’ sold at many ‘craft markets’ and the kind of items being created by more conscious, design-oriented producers such as yourself is similar to what happened with the Arts & Crafts Movement at the turn of the last century, where there was an attempt to retain the soulfulness of work done by artisans and craftspeople in the face of industrialisation and mass production.
I believe we have seen a continuing thread of this principle throughout the 20th Century (especially in the 1960s), and now again a return to this kind of ethic with the social and eco-consciousness of today.”