Summer night markets conjure images of steaming street food, thongs slapping on asphalt and a bustling atmosphere of happy strangers browsing in close quarters. While they have their allure, markets could benefit from a little more breathing room.
The team behind the Blender Artist Market had this in mind when it decided to relocate its Friday-night market, held for the previous five years in a CBD lane, to the more spacious Docklands for summer.
“This is our first season at the new location,” says Blender co-founder George Manioudakis. “It’s a whole new level for us in terms of the size, location and who we’re working with. It’s exciting to see where the market started from and [now] where it’s going. It’s really next level for us. We feel like we’ve grown up now.”
Held every Friday evening through summer, the market runs from 5pm to 9pm at the Docklands Arts Precinct. With an emphasis on emerging artists, expect handmade artisan goods, local produce, art, food and live music. It also just happens to be situated within the free tram zone.
“There’s so many exciting new dimensions to it,” says Manioudakis. “We’ve got space for two stages now, so we’ve got a lot more entertainment throughout the night and we can fit in more stallholders which is fantastic. We’ve also got a new pop-up gallery space that we’ll be activating on Friday nights, a new food truck park, and the team has given over all the corridors in the district to artists to turn into their own pop-up shops. It’s all those entities combining to make this a huge thing on the Melbourne calendar.”
We asked Manioudakis for his picks of the evening Art Market.
Manioudakis describes the independently run Skelter as “an exciting new street-wear label with bold graphics and an ethos entrenched in the counter-culture scene.” That translates to smart, minimalist graphic tees and hats based on the brand’s black-and-white aesthetic, peppered with splashes of tie-dye.
Gingerbread is a classic. Local Danielle Cutajar is putting her own twist on it with Sweet Nellies. She offers a range of neon-coloured, sprinkle-dusted cookies. “Delicious-tasting traditional treats with an artistic touch,” says Manioudakis. Keep an eye out for the Pink Lady – for each one sold Sweet Nellie will make a donation to Breast Cancer Network Australia.
The Blender Studios has relocated not just its market but also its headquarters to The Precinct at Docklands. Originally an artist studio born during the Melbourne street-art movement of the early 2000s, the hub’s new location offers more space for a number of local artists. Pop in during market hours for a wander through and see how they work.
It makes sense for acclaimed local painter and mural maker Chehehe to be a part of the Blender Night Markets – his line-drawn-led work already adorns the walls of the District Docklands precinct. Manioudakis calls Chehehe “an extremely creative artist who hails from the well-respected Arts Hole Studios.” A visit to his quirky market stall offers the chance to take his art off the wall and into your home.
Situated alongside the markets is The Food Truck Park. It features a rotating residency of vendors cooking up treats and has a licensed bar. Manioudakis says there’s a fantastic line-up of musicians – his early-season pick is Citrus Jam: “a highly energetic sci-fi flamenco metal act with a crazy live show.” Kick back with a burger and enjoy.