This November's Bowerbird Design Market at the Adelaide Showgrounds will not be the last – but it may be the last at the helm for its founder Jane Barwick.
New era mooted for Bowerbird as its founder looks for a buyer
“After ten years of developing Bowerbird, and it growing from strength to strength, I’m exploring the options of finding its next custodian,” says Jane Barwick.
We’d heard from the event’s publicity team there was ‘big news.’
Those who know anything about journalists will know how rock-bottom-low our expectations are when we are forewarned about big news. So when we got in touch with Jane and discovered the gargantuan news she is looking to move on from Bowerbird, it was honestly a shock.
“It’s an exciting time for Bowerbird and I’m fascinated to see how the event evolves,” says Jane.
“Once the announcement is made, my focus will be back on the November event, when we’re preparing to welcome over 200 stallholders, including 40 exciting new businesses who are eager to meet our Adelaide audience, along with a great range of workshops and of course delicious artisan food and drinks.”
Of course, it’s business as usual in many respects for Jane and her team, who – in its 10th year – are putting on the biggest Bowerbird event ever.
What started in Queens Theatre – with local designer-makers, a heavy representation of Queen Street, Croydon shops (it’s where we first tasted Red Door Bakery‘s moroccan lamb sausage rolls) and artists who’ve since become friends and constant inspiration – has grown to completely fill the showbag hall at Adelaide Showgrounds.
Jane is obviously proud of her business, but says it’s also about – and because of – other people that she’s so proud. In particular, Jane loves the feedback from visiting stallholders.
“Many stallholders, particularly from interstate, say how much they love the visitors at Bowerbird,” says Jane.
“How the Adelaide audience is respectful, warm and genuinely interested in meeting them and hearing about the processes and stories behind their work. That they’re more relaxed and appreciative than attendees elsewhere…and how they’ve been able to establish such a loyal following here.”
And Bowerbird attendees are fiercely loyal to the twice-yearly event.
“Some people have come to every event and have the set of booklets to prove it!” says Jane.
The evolution of South Australia’s largest design market means that you can now go on a Friday night for dinner and a drink (alcoholic or non) and get the lay of the land in a more casual and comfortable pace – earmark some favourite stalls, without committing to a purchase – and then come back for a more serious shop and tick off some Christmas shopping on Saturday or Sunday.
“Book in for a workshop,” suggest Jane. “They’re lots of fun with a drink in hand, and could even be a cool idea for an end of year work / friends get-together.”
Of course there are innumerable highlights across 10 years and too many people to thank (though we’ve let Jane list them below). However the big lesson in doing Bowerbird all these years, says Jane, is discovering just what’s possible in Adelaide.
“We sell ourselves short,” says Jane.
“We do things just as well here and often first and better. I like these words in the final address by Charles Landry, Adelaide Thinker in Residence in 2003: ‘…given Adelaide’s edge position, it needs to be strangely, doubly innovative, doubly creative, more creative than others… where the real solutions come to the difficult problems…’
“It’s important to be proud and supportive of what we achieve here,” says Jane. And Bowerbird is an excellent example of that attitude.
CityMag: Who would you like to thank and acknowledge from the history of Bowerbird, people who’ve helped in the background maybe?
Jane Barwick: There have been lots of people along the way and these are just a few!
Julie Pieda (Koush Design) and Wendy Todd helped navigate our transition into this big venue which has opened up lots of opportunities for the event. We continue to reference and add to the ideas they put in place and Julie continues to be involved in the design, digitalising of the floorplan, and providing insightful assistance as part of an amazing duo, running our Visual Merchandising workshops for stallholders behind the scenes with Nicola Danby from TafeSA.
Andrew Smart (BlackJacket Studio) for his eye, graphic designs and being so easy and lovely to work with over many years. Our crew and front-of-house comprise the onsite dream team each event. They are all so good at what they do, and the nicest of people. Claire Curry and Ann-Marie Steed for their input, and also kindness beyond work. My partner Jake for his creativity in styling the event and ongoing support, and our current team who are a pleasure to work with and have been only supportive in light of the recent announcement.
Jane says anyone interested in enquiring about becoming Bowerbird’s next custodian(s) should contact Kent Aughey: firstname.lastname@example.org