It makes sense that the market is based in Fitzroy, since it’s a diverse place that embraces alternative forms of art and culture, creating an interactive environment where people can hold open discussions with artists and designers about their thought-provoking work.
“The beautiful thing about Rose Street is that we really get to showcase so many weird and wonderful pieces of art and design, so it’s really hard to pinpoint what exactly you might see,” says market director Christian Ferrante.
“Sometimes it’s really polished pieces of jewellery that’s been created over the years with experience, or it’s someone who’s got a hobby who’s making something really interesting that they’re passionate about that might not necessarily be the most retail friendly or economically viable product to have.”
Each artist has a story to tell through their product – examples include Chloe Smith, who actively recreates popular Australian food through her felted art, and Chloe Pisani who produces art under the name of ‘Cactvs’, creating illustrations on cards that experiment with pop culture. Then
there’s Wonki and J ceramics, who combine materials such as Korean Buncheong slip ware and Australian nature bush to create natural and unique ceramic art.
Despite the fact that the market is quite popular now, it began as a humble idea that Ferrante came up with, which was inspired by his brother who is an artist. “The market started probably out of necessity more than anything,” he says. “My brother was just looking at ways to exhibit his work that wasn’t in the traditional gallery or retail setting where commissions and costs were quite high.
“When the market started, a lot of artists were still in the area and there were a lot of warehouse places that were being utilised as artist studios. Unfortunately that’s changed a lot now with increased gentrification of the area and more warehouses turning into apartments, so that’s why the market is more important being in Fitzroy, because it gives people a place to showcase their work in a setting that’s traditionally housed a lot of artists.”
Along with Melbourne-based artists, Rose St Market also attracts a lot of international visitors who participate by contributing their own unique art. “We had an artist from Korea join us recently and she’s an illustrator,” Ferrante says. “Her themes were very similar to what our local artists and designers’ themes were, so it’s quite interesting how there’s a crossover of ideas and styles from different artists.
“It’s also a nice way for international guests to take a little piece of Melbourne home with them, you know something that’s not a koala or a boomerang, but more so representative of what Melbourne is all about.”
Ferrante also explains how he’s constantly exploring new ways of engaging people with the market.
“We want to remain fresh, interesting and relevant to everyone – that’s probably our ultimate aim, because after 15 years I guess we’ve got to keep striving to move forward with what we’re doing,” he says. “We will hopefully have a lot of interactivity coming up in the coming seasons, things like workshops and having themed markets that really focus on a specific product or genre.
“We want these sorts of things where we can diversify our offerings, but we are happy to keep going and keep representing local artists and that’s what it’s about. I think people really enjoy checking out what’s new and exciting.”