The Lost Trades Fair, a celebration of old timey skills and crafts, has been drawing crowds to the Victorian town of Kyneton for the past five years. People have flocked to see the likes of spoon carvers, tool makers, basket weavers, milliners and stonemasons do their thing. In 2018 it branched out to Toowoomba and in 2019 we saw an additional location in Richmond NSW.
Of the first time Toowomba show in 2018, Lisa Rundell, who co-founded the fair with her chair maker husband Glen, said Toowoomba was chosen due to conversations with "a very convincing leather plaiter". He was alongside makers from across the state at the Lost Trades Fair, Queensland edition. "We found a lot of incredible artisans from across Queensland, which was always the hope, to not just be a travelling Victorian roadshow but to actually engage with the Queensland public,” says Lisa.
Some of the Victorian makers also made the journey. “There are a handful of older artisans who we help to get their equipment and everything to the fair,” says Lisa. “That's part of what the money from the ticketing goes to, to help our retired artisans and those not earning an income anymore to get their accommodation, pay for petrol, things like that.”
While the exhibitors are a mix of ages, older generations are well represented. “A lot of these artisans are retired because their trades are no longer relevant today,” says Lisa. “But we believe that they are, which was our whole aim in coming up with the idea for the fair, to actually find a place for these traditional tradespeople today.”
Lisa estimates that around 60–70% of the people who have come through the door in Kyneton have also been of an older generation. “These were trades that were prevalent when they were kids,” she says. “There would have been a local boot maker, local butchers, a whole community of trades all working together. You would associate a person with that trade. We've lost a lot of that today.”
Despite it disappearing from the mainstream, there is a growing appreciation of handcrafted wares and so-called ‘lost’ skills, judging by the big crowds The Lost Trades Fair draws in. Lisa says that the fair provides artisans with a platform and an audience. “They get their 15 minutes of fame, of which probably a lot of them have never had that acknowledgement,” she says. “That's what we find keeps the artisans, no matter their age, coming back, because they absolutely love it. They've never had an audience that's so engaged, and they get a real high out of it.”
The Toowoomba event mirrored Kyneton by having a wide array of exhibitors, plenty of workshops on offer and a focus on local food and drinks. But did the Queensland climate deter as many bushy beards from fronting up? “There are a lot of beards,” admits Lisa about The Lost Trades Fair’s crowd. “We've actually thought of having a beard competition! There are a lot of beards on the older generations, who haven't shaved for probably 40 years.”
Images courtesy of The Lost Trades Fair
Main: Bucket making
Above: Don timberbender, Bridget print maker, Christine milliner, Dave pinstriper
The Lost Trades Fair will be back
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