Airdate: Bespoke

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Tomorrow night ABC begins Bespoke, a 3 part Arts series looking at the rise of the handmade, bespoke, locally produced wares.

Covering everything from jewellery, fashion, signwriting, beers and more, this is an engaging series deserving of a better timeslot than 10pm Thursdays.

Writer and presenter Marcus Westbury takes us from Newcastle to New York, from the lovingly crafted to cutting edge technology, from artisanal jewellers and wood-turners to craft distillers and 3D printers. He wants to find out why so many of us are making, who is buying, and whether this phenomenon is here to stay. Is this just an old arts and crafts movement in hipster clothing, or are we experiencing a profound cultural and technological shift that could remake our cities, our economies and our communities?

In the last decade the number of people making arts, craft and bespoke and artisanal objects in Australia has grown enormously. The number of people making jewellery alone has increased by 700%.

Technology has given artisans and entrepreneurs access to international markets, and consumers are increasingly rejecting mass produced products in favour of the handcrafted and unique. Everything from beer brands to breakfast cereals are labelled ‘handmade’ and ‘artisanal’; property developers are selling “handmade” apartments; and ETSY, the Ebay for the handmade, is now a billion dollar business.

Marcus explores how genuine makers strike a balance between affordability and authenticity, and asks how big can you grow without losing something essential? He explores a movement that has been called ‘the next industrial revolution’ and unpacks the hype from the truly revolutionary potential.

Episode 1: “Rise of the Makers”
Over the last decade in Australia there’s been a massive growth in the handmade, the locally produced, the artisanal and the small scale. Is it a reaction against technology or the product of it? Marcus Westbury goes from knife makers to 3D printing labs, to find out what the hell is going on.

Beginning in his home town of Newcastle, Marcus introduces us to the Renew Newcastle project that has helped hundreds of makers, artists and artisans become catalysts for an incredible transformation. From a desolate strip with a hundred empty buildings, the centre of Newcastle is now a place with brimming with street life again. We discover old miners in jewellery classes, a traditional sign-writer, artists, fashion designers, and a man who makes furniture from discarded car parts. Could this rapid growth in small scale help replace the loss of mass manufacturing?

From Newcastle Marcus travels to Tasmania to meet steam-punk blacksmiths, the legendary knife- maker John Hounslow-Robinson at his rustic bush shack, and makers at a MONA market where Tasmania’s arts and crafts tradition are morphing into one of Australia’s hottest tourist attractions – and finds out more than he ever wanted to know about vagina cushions.

But the return of makers and making is not just about reinventing old crafts and traditions. Back in Melbourne we visit a 3D printing lab and start to explore how technology is enabling the explosion of small scale creativity taking place across Australia.

10pm Thursday ABC.

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