As we traveled around Australia, I was impressed by many of the artists and artisans we met, whose work was creative and out of the ordinary. Here’s a small snapshot of them.
Aboriginal Bush Traders is one of many places that sells work by aboriginal artists in Darwin and the Northern Territory. Unlike most others, this organization is not-for profit, and is focused on getting aboriginal work on the market. The store is in a renovated historic stone cottage on the edge of the Darwin downtown area. We liked the wide range of items from painting to woven goods. I bought my cockatoo shoes there. http://aboriginalbushtraders.com
Paintings are the best known form of aboriginal art in Australia, in part because there is ancient rock art painted in similar styles. We were drawn to different work, especially the linocuts of Vincent Babia. These are his interpretation of the historic migration of people from Sabia Island in the Torres Straits to Cape York, the northern tip of Australia. There is a lot going on in every corner of his prints. They are very large, this one is 121.5 x 97.5 cm (38 x 48 in).
I like clever graphic art. In Sydney, Squidinki caught my eye, full of humorous souvenirs unlike anything I saw elsewhere. The artist is Max Mendez. http://squidinki.com
Tanya Ferreira works in pen and ink. She’s based in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales. https://www.etsy.com/shop/zenfulcreatures
We met Jackie Elms at a fair, and bought one of her hand-painted pillow covers. To see her work on Facebook you need to go to her photos, not her facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/Jacky-Elms-Artist-395713370779264/photos/?ref=page_internal
Now that I make jewelry from beach glass, I scrutinize the jewelry we at markets and fairs. There was lots of inspiring creative work.
Jux jewellery makes rings and other items using the lost-wax casting process. The rings with opals set in them are particularly beautiful. http://www.juxjewellery.com
Indigo Dreaming Designs is a line of sea glass jewelry by Ruth Marshall. It includes rings, bracelets, charms, and pendants of beach glass set in silver. https://www.facebook.com/pg/indigodreamingdesigns/posts/
Opals are mined in Australia and tourists are attracted to them. You can visit mines in Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy and other remote places. You can buy opals in all the tourist centers and airports. We looked in a lot of places, and found that opals are largely a tourist item found in specialized shops.
In Brisbane, the Australian Opal Shop carries a wide range of opals, I picked out two pieces of opal from Queensland. This is opal formed on a base of dark brown rock. The colors range from lavender to dark blue. green, yellow, orange and red. There are opals from Mexico and Ethiopia, but in Australia, you find mostly the Australian varieties. After we looked at all the displays at the Brisbane Opal Museum, Jonathan bought me an opal ring that shows flashes of blue and green. It is perfect. http://www.brisbaneopalmuseum.com.au/
last but not least: T-shirts
You would think that buying a souvenir t-shirt would be the simplest thing a tourist can do. Not so! If you want an interesting t-shirt, it takes a lot of shopping. In Fremantle, we drove by the huge silo with the Dingo Flour logo on it and several visits and phone calls tracked down the t-shirt bearing that logo. https://www.mokoh.com.au/index.php/mokohshop/category/61-t-shirts
We had an equally daunting time finding an interesting tshirt during our visit and finally found a good one on our way home. Wild Kiwi designs makes a range of tshirts that are more creative than usual. https://wild-kiwi.co.nz/
Those are of some of the artists and artisans I liked during our travels around Australia, and New Zealand. I tended to buy jewelry and textiles like pillow covers, dish towels, and t-shirts, because they are easy to pack.