Manizales Book Festival: Week 235

Soma - Tyrannus Melancholicus - Screen Print from the Feria del Libro de Manizales

It was that time of year when ambitious students print up their zines, tastefully display their most shocking art, and try to earn a bit of beer money. It was time for the Feria del Libro de Manizales.

The Manizales Book Festival had its main installation on Santander Avenue, outside the Palogrande Campus of the University of Caldas. Along the large, white building were tents and book vendors from all the main bookshops in the city. In between those were stalls of secondhand and special interest books.

However, my favorite part of the book festival were the student stalls in the courtyard of the building. There were around 15 of these little cardboard stands filled with cleverly designed notebooks, buttons, and zines.

Buttons from Tyrannus Melancholicus - Found at the Feria del Libro de Manizales

The first purchase I made was a screen print of a burning car from a vendor named Tyrannus Melancholicus. I was kind of surprised that even though it was an original piece of art, it was still cheaper than a paperback book. The same designer also had a zine about bread and a corresponding collection of cute buttons.

Larva graphic anthology - Feria del Libro de Manizales

Another exciting discovery we made was of a publication called Larva. Barret had been wanting to find graphic novels in Spanish to practice reading, but the hardcover volumes we found were a bit too pricey to justify their purchase. Larva, however, was not only on sale but it was also a sample of some of the best comic artists in Latin America.

Notebook by La Libreteria Ediciones - Feria del Libro de Manizales

The last purchase I made was from a Medellín-based designer called La Libretería Ediciones. At first glance, the cover of the notebook appeared to be a watercolor of a very busy public square. Then I noticed the dead man leaking blood on the cobblestones while two soldiers looked on. I loved the contrast between the softness of the media and the actual content of the imagery.

I hadn’t bought nearly as many books as I had hoped to, but I did walk away with a lot of work by Colombian artists. And I count that as a definite success.

About: Feria del Libro de Manizales

About: Tyrannus Melancholicus

About La Libretería Ediciones: lalibreteria@gmail.com

About: Larva 

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The Finders Keepers Markets: Week 217

Finders Keepers Market Autumn/Winter 2015: Sydney, Australia

The Finders Keepers is a super hip craft fair that takes places twice a year inside the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. It is pretty much Etsy in flesh and bones and it draws quite a large crowd. The hall was originally a locomotive workshop, so it definitely lends a shabby chic atmosphere to the markets.

Barret and I paid a small donation to enter the event center and we were immediately swept away by the crowd. There was everything from clothing to candles in the shape of doll heads that, when burned, exposed a waxy pink brain.

The Finders Keepers Market- You Me & Bones Candles: Sydney, Australia

My guilty pleasure at craft fairs is quality ceramics and the best products I found were at a small booth called Skimming Stones. The artist who designed the collection of six plates worked in collaboration with a Japanese ceramic company named Kihara.

Skimming Stones plates at The Finders Keepers markets: Sydney, Australia

The result was an interesting fusion of Australiana with the traditional blue and white colors of Arita pottery. Barret and I couldn’t resist a plate with the kookaburra. They are very cheeky birds that sound like monkeys and one once stole the food right out of Barret’s mouth.

The Finders Keepers Markets - Fluffe Cotton Candy: Sydney, Australia

The queues for the food trucks were very long, so I made the sensible decision to buy a piña colada flavored cotton candy with a pink umbrella. Later on, while Barret was distracted, I made another sensible decision to buy a ceramic necklace in the shape of a giant piece of macaroni.

Flower vendor at The Finders Keepers market: Sydney, Australia

There was so much to see that it took us just under two hours to visit only half of the booths. I was also trying to photograph all of the cute stuff I saw, but it wasn’t easy with the crowds.

Bowtie vendor at The Finders Keepers market: Sydney, Australia

Towards the exit, and a few stalls down from a Polaroid booth, Barret and I found screen printed tea towels. At this point we were running low on cash, but we scraped up enough for two. One had Sydney scenes and the other had sketches of terrace homes. I had a sinking suspicion that our luggage was going to be overweight, but it was definitely worth it.

Vendor business cards at The Finders Keepers markets: Sydney, Australia

About: The Finders Keepers

About: You, Me & Bones candles

About: Skimming Stones plates

About: Fluffe cotton candy

Rozelle Markets: Week 215

Vintage picnic photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I’m not the kind of person that glances over a rack of clothes and makes a quick decision. I’m the person that will go through the rack, one piece at a time, and rub each item’s material between my fingers. This is especially true for thrift stores.

Kitchenware demands to be picked up, flipped upside down, and inspected. Books require at least the first three pages to be read. Knickknacks need to be walked past, circled back around, and then contemplated for another minute. I can’t help myself; this is just the way I like to shop.

Vintage Avor Stone Ginger Beer bottle from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Because I was due to leave Australia within the next few weeks, I decided one of the last things I had to do was visit the Rozelle Markets. It is the best place in Sydney to find antiques. The booths are full of old bottles, coins, plates, ashtrays, vases, lamps, toys, clothes, and bric-a-brac.1947 Australia Penny from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

My visit to the Rozelle Markets also coincided with ANZAC Day, which is a holiday that celebrates Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in war and is especially associated with WWI. Because it is such a patriotic holiday, it seemed like a good day to pick up all things Australiana.

Vintage Australian stamps from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Unfortunately for my friend Emma, who had accompanied me on this trip, she was unfamiliar with my method of shopping.

My morning began within the worn pages of a stamp album. While the grumpy vendor slowly plucked out my favorite stamps one at a time, Emma had already looked through half of the stalls.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Shortly afterwards, I picked up a book from a famous Australian author- The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It had been on my book list for a while. After that I poked around overpriced teacups and then dug through cheap silverware.Vinatge Towradgi Park Bowling Club pin from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Two hours later, Emma found me browsing through bowling club pins. She’d already been around the market three times and had had a long conversation with her twin brother on the phone. “You’ve spent more time there today than when you lived in Rozelle,” he told her. Emma took this to mean that a lunch break was in order. We left the markets to find sushi and cider.

Vintage Halekulani Bowling Club pin from Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

After lunch I convinced Emma to go back to the markets for a little bit longer. “I just want a quick look through the rest of the booths that I’d missed.” As soon as Emma was out of sight, I found a big pile of vintage photos and went through them one at a time.

Vintage soldier photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought I was though, Emma had seen me pick up the stack. Eventually I noticed Emma’s presence corralling me along. Aside from a quick stop at a bucket of vintage tea towels, I was artfully maneuvered towards the exit.

“You know, there’s usually more stalls than this,” Emma mused as we left the markets. I don’t believe I am wrong in thinking that was said with a sigh of relief.

Part of a vintage Lightning Ridge tea towel from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

How to get to the Rozelle Markets: 663 Darling Street, Rozelle 2039

Hunter Valley: Week 212

Vineyard landscape in the Hunter Vallery: Pokolbin, Australia

Pokolbin, the gateway to the Hunter Valley wine region, is an undulating field of grape vines under a pale blue sky. It’s located about two and a half hours north of Sydney and a good first stop after that long drive would be Kevin Sobels Wines. Aside from the tasting bar, the grounds host the Handmade Hunter Markets on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Because we drove up on Easter weekend, the markets were also open on Sunday.

The usual country goods were all in attendance- from hand sewn purses to cutting boards to scented soy candles. We ate a bacon and egg pizza that was cooked in the back of a van and tasted passion fruit lemon butter ‘just like Grandma made.’

Casbars Kitchen and Garden business card: Pokolbin, Australia

My best purchase though was a jar of River Flats Estate Chilli & Fennel infused Corregiola olives in apple cider vinegar. The diminutive size of the olives might not have been impressive- and the fact that they weren’t pitted- but that would have been a huge misjudgment. They were some of the best olives I had ever tasted and it was also the first time I actually appreciated olive pits because they forced me to slow down and savor the spiciness of the chilli and the bite of the fennel seeds.

Tamburlaine Vineyard: Pokolbin, Australia

After the market our friends and I drove to an organic vineyard called Tamberlaine. The tour guide worked part time at the vineyard and had a full time job as a drama teacher. We knew it was going to be an interesting tour when we heard him respond to a query about having children. “Look at me. Do you think any woman would trust me to impregnate them?”

After we toured the vineyard we reconvened in a large tasting room. Beside the tour, my $50 ticket included a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese and crackers to go with the wine tasting. I was feeling quite generous, so I told Barret I’d drive and poured my share of the wine samples into his glass. He was definitely looking sleepy at the end of the tasting.

Originally we intended on visiting several vineyards, but we had such a good time with our guide that the next thing we knew there was only a half hour until most of Pokolbin closed. Barret and I decided to buy a few extra bottles of wine and some dark chocolate. Unfortunately we didn’t have any more time to spend in the Hunter Valley, but I was very happy we went away with some good wine.

Vineyard landscape in the Hunter Valley: Pokolbin, Australia

About: The Hunter Valley

About: River Flats Estates

How to get to the Handmade Hunter Markets: Corner of Broke & Halls Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

How to get to Tamburlaine: 358 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Sausage Sizzle: Week 211

A patriotic car outside the Newtown Public Polling Place: Sydney, Australia

One of the most cherished election activities in Australia is sadly unknown in the US. It has to do with fundraising, but it’s not the kind of money that bankrolls political candidates or sways public policy. In its purest form it involves a bunch of volunteers roasting sausages on their BBQs. However, different permutations involve cake stalls, bake stalls, raffles, boot sales, fetes, mini-fetes, and sausage sizzle-cake-raffle stalls.

“Are you here to vote?” One of the party workers asked as Barret and I approached the gate to the Newtown Public Polling Place.

“No,” I replied. “I’m here to sausage sizzle.”

Voters outside the Newtown Public Polling Place: Sydney, Australia

Sausage sizzles are a cherished form of fundraising by school associations and community groups. There’s even a website that tracks which polling places are offering which food and you can bet the sausage sizzles are reviewed in the post-election news coverage.

I picked Newtown Public because it was close to my house, but I only found out later on the Sydney Morning Herald that the Erskineville Public had vegetarian options and halloumi on their burgers! I kind of wish I had known this beforehand.

Cake Stall at Newtown Public: Sydney Australia

Anyways, Barret had a burger and I went to the cake stall for a glass of lemonade and a rice bubble treat. I talked to the volunteers for a bit until they were distracted by more voters coming out of the polling booth. Since we had completed our patriotic duty, we strolled off to enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon. I really want this sausage sizzle thing to catch on back home.

About: Election Sausage Sizzles

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