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Deck the Halls

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Well, almost. If you’re on the hunt for meaningful gifts, what better way to spoil your nearest and dearest than with creations from talented Top End artists, designers and makers? Cue the Tactile Arts Christmas Craft Fair.

By Tierney Seccull

This month, the third craft fair of the year takes place over two festive-filled days (and one special VIP night) in the air-conditioned comfort of Darwin Convention Centre. The large-scale craft market is always a hit with locals and visitors, and Tactile Arts General Manager Tessa Duke says this one’s the biggest yet.

“We’ve got the whole venue – we’re taking over the whole Convention Centre. There are four halls within the Centre, and over the past five years, we’ve slowly grown from one, to two, to three. We’ve grown to four this year.”

The growth of the craft fair’s physical footprint is for good reason. This year’s stallholder call-out saw a spike in applications, with over 150 stalls set to deck the [Convention Centre] halls, up on the record-breaking number of 120 last year.

In further exciting news, six remote art centres are taking part this year, including Ikuntji Artists from the desert, Arnhem Land’s Injalak Arts, Waralungku Arts from Borroloola, Merrepen Arts from Nauiyu Community on Daly River, Munupi Art & Crafts from the Tiwi Islands, and Anindilyakwa Arts over on Groote Eylandt.

There are also artist demonstrations and workshops throughout the weekend, plus free activities for the little ones with artist Bev Garside.

This craft fair’s an extra special one for Duke. After being with Tactile Arts for more than six years, four of those as General Manager, it’s her last hurrah as she finishes up with Tactile at the end of the year. She says the organisation will always be very special to her.

“It’s been amazing. It’s such an incredible organisation. The relationships that come out of working for a community organisation like this, you just can’t put a value on that,” she says.

“I was new to the Territory, and it was like an immediate community. I think that’s really special, everyone is so open and warm and welcoming. For me, and for a lot of people here, it’s the community of Tactile Arts that’s captured us.”

The Christmas Craft Fair in particular has become a passion project for the outgoing GM.

“I saw a bit of an opportunity and really wanted to develop the event to be a bit of a jewel in the crown of our program. It provides us the chance to showcase some of our incredible artists to a really large audience.

"It’s an audience that we really want to grow, which is why we’ve introduced the VIP event on the Friday night so that we can really get out there and lift the profile.”

There’s so much on offer that we couldn’t possibly list them all here, but for a little Christmas stocking inspo, expect ceramics, jewellery, decorations, handmade cards, children’s books, candles, soaps, puddings, hampers, textiles and more.

Unique gifts with a nice side of supporting the local creative community? That’s the [Christmas] spirit!

Tactile Arts Christmas Craft Fair

Thumbnail: VIP event
Header: Mara Ceramics
Inset: British Bakes by Melanie

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