The Pleasures of Palm Creek Festival

Published On October 1, 2013 | By Jacqui Stock | Festivals

It has been said that the only difference between a craft worker and an artist is that the artist thinks outside the box, making their creations from scratch without the need to follow an established pattern.  The Artisans at Palm Creek Festival this year definitely fit into the category of something more than simply crafts persons.

Sinuous colourful threads wind their way amongst layers of ribbon and twisted strips of cloth, the resultant web redefined into one of the many exotic creations of textile artist Leah Tranter found at her appropriately titled stall, ‘Bugged’, at this year’s Palm Creek Folk Festival.

Tranter’s wearable art pieces, extend a versatility seldom seen in a single piece. A feathered shawl, becomes a hat, a belt or even a skirt dependent on the whim of the wearer. Her works, incorporate the tiniest fragments. Scraps more often seen  littering the sewing room floor are used, nothing is wasted and the resulting pieces could grace a gallery just as well as the bodies of festival goers.

A little further along the promenade of stalls, pieces of boulder opal sparkle in the sunshine, the translucent blues, and misty tones of this spectacular stone re-fashioned into outback landscapes at the hands of Mossman artist Steve Johns.

Originally known for his work on Chillagoe Marble and Ribbon Stone, Johns an original stall holder at the Kuranda Markets, was mesmerised by the beauty of the opals found around the Winton area in western Queensland, seeing the skies and rock faces of the Australian outback in the colours peeking out of their boulder frames.

Johns work has sold across the globe with pieces held in collections in the USA and Japan as well as throughout Australia.  He was one of only six Queensland artists to be invited to exhibit at Expo ’88 in Brisbane.

Chain mail with a twist was the offering of one Cairns artisan, Lauris McFadden, whose work was seen for the first time last year at Palm Creek. Needing a challenge, McFadden put her mind to creating lacelike articles styled under the name ‘Gender in the Blender’ from small stainless steel rings following in the footsteps of medieval blacksmiths.

Not seen as valuable in the same sense as gold or silver, the metal is cheaper and easily acquired. Its strength allowing its formation into versatile pieces with hints of history, such as a breech clout which doubles as an intriguing piece of neck jewellery. Some pieces such as a full vest, taking as much as 36 hours to make, making a statement for the wearer as well as being quite the conversation piece.

Another artist giving new life to an old art is felt maker Megan Lyons. Felting, used extensively from as early as 5000 BC has a seemingly endless range of uses from clothing to footwear to lifestyle accessories.  Each piece, be it a delicate shawl or a pair of sturdy baby’s boots, imbued with the timelessness of hand-made creativity.

The cloth, made through a process of matting organic natural fibres is strong and versatile and with the wide ranging dyes available in today’s world can be anything from earthy to exotic.

Lyons, currently resident on Magnetic Island began felting 18 years ago in Melbourne and from the first try was hooked, she has now been working the markets for 16 years and loves the changing feel of the festivals, she comments that they are all different each having its own special energy .

Natasha Langdon and Natalie Terlika from Mossman cater to the child in all of us.  Natasha’s ‘Happy Forest Elf ‘quirky children’s wear, is resplendent with appliqued felt characters, and her fairy like felt slippers are reminiscent of their label.  Natalie’s ‘Fancy Nancy’ creations incorporate recycled materials recreating them into animals and toys blessed with the age old charm enjoyed in the fantasy of children’s stories.

This year’s stalls brought a new spectrum to Palm Creek Festival with quite a few artisans nestled amongst the expected range of colourful clothing, jewellery, fire twirling equipment and glow items, and one thing is certain they can take their place with pride amongst the list of artists to be seen and enjoyed at what is becoming one of the North’s favourite festivals.


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About The Author

is a freelance arts writer, and was the art reviewer for the Townsville Bulletin for 12 years, amongst other publications. Stock has a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) from James Cook University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism.

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