What is Spoonville? Investigating the new lockdown trend emerging across Melbourne

What is Spoonville? Investigating the new lockdown trend emerging across Melbourne

Image from the Dromana Spoonville Facebook page
Words by Charisa Bossinakis

The wooden spoon gardens are an inventive way of keeping people connected amidst this isolating time.

During the first lockdown, rainbows and teddy bears in windows were our positive discoveries on walks around the neighbourhood, but as of late, Melbourne has been taken over by a new fad – Spoonville.

They’re the colourful handcrafted spoon characters emerging in Melbourne nature strips aiming to brighten up the neighbourhood while offering a burst of enjoyment for children during remote learning.

Originating in the English village of Winnersh, the trend was brought here by Junelle Wilson after she spotted her friend, Helen, create a Scottish Spoonville on the Isle of Mull. Wilson then soon began sprouting spoon villages in her hometown of Longwarry, Victoria.

Now, the miniature gardens of wooden spoons that fashion googly eyes and pipe cleaners for arms are emerging everywhere in Victorian suburbs. Currently, there are over 240 Spoonville sites spread throughout the state.

To get involved, all you need to do is find an accessible patch of land where the Spoonville sign is displayed and add your own little handmade character to the cluster. Some have taken the liberty of personalising their spoons to make them look like themselves. Some are paying homage to their favourite public figures – there’s one of Reese Witherspoon and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wearing his infamous North Face jacket.

Though it’s a seemingly-innocent child art project, it’s helped revive neighbourhood spirit at a time of extreme isolation by boosting community engagement.

Creator of the Spoonville Melbourne Instagram page, Janet Gillam, believes that Spoonville has resonated with communities as it is a “simple and inclusive” way to bring joy and foster creativity in these difficult times.

“When our world is limited to 5km from our home, the Spoonville initiative allows us to be transported to a different, constantly evolving and exciting world where anything is possible,” she said.

Just like the Spoonville villages, Gillam’s Instagram page continues to grow as she receives an influx of messages daily, by those inspired by the crafty global phenomenon.

“I receive many DMs from people seeking advice on how to find a Spoonville, how to create one, and photos of spoons to be shared. The ABBA spoons remain my favourite so far.”

Dr Caroline Moul, a child development expert at the University of Sydney, told The Guardian that activities like Spoonville were a great way to make kids feel connected while improving mental health during lockdown.

“All these initiatives are trying to make the situation as bearable as possible,” she said.

“The biggest difficulty with this situation is that none of us have ever experienced this before, it’s been pretty challenging across the whole range of childhood and ages.”

She noted that the creative outlet has been helpful for communities to feel interactive, that spotting these vibrant patches of spoons during daily walks shows a willingness for people to reach out even in the age of social distancing.

“On a deeper level, it’s a form of connection. As people, we naturally want to connect and be part of something bigger. When that is taken away from us – like in this situation – it’s natural to want to engage,” she said.

Melbourne nanny Elizabeth Baker is witnessing first-hand how children are managing to keep stimulated during isolation.

“I am in awe of their motivation, persistence and engagement when it comes to sitting at their dining table for yet another day of school, however, they’ve been finding many things to keep them busy,” she said.

One of ways they’re occupying themselves amid coronavirus is partaking in this new artistic obsession.

“The highlight of their day has been creating their spoon characters and planting them in community gardens, they love to watch the villages continue to multiply as well.”

However, it’s not just the children who are reaping the benefits of Spoonville, Baker has even found that adults are even becoming increasingly interested in the community-based initiative too.

“My friend and I are actually planning to make our own spoons to add to Spoonville because why not! Whether you’re an adult or a child, we’re all feeling the weight of stage four lockdown right now.”

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