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Slowly Made Locals: The Art of Intention

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Exploring Brisbane's most conscientious collective of artists and makers.


Close up of storefront with "Slowly Made Locals" written across the window.

For the last three years, this American (me) has called Brisbane, Australia home. More specifically, the off beat, hippie friendly neighborhood, West End, has been home. As a car-less West Ender, I don't often make my way across the river to neighboring Paddington. I find that if a particular neighborhood requires a bus transfer, I am quick to lose interest. However, while researching for my recent entry on Brisbane's best vintage shops, I quickly realized that surrender to a bus transfer was necessary, as Paddington is home to a handful of Brisbane's most iconic vintage sellers, and I would be doing a big disservice to exclude them. What I didn't expect to come across on my day of vintage investigation was something I found to be incredibly special, a modest storefront with the words "Slowly Made Locals" across it's front window.


As it's name suggests, Slowly Made Locals is a collective store designed to celebrate the most intentional of Brisbane's artists and makers. Curated by a passionate group of 7 of said locals, and featuring an impressive roster of other slow crafters across the city, this is a must visit for anybody looking to buy local art and other artisan made products with a purpose.



A SLOW REVOLUTION

Table full of consciously crafted products, including a book on painting, soaps, earrings, wooden spoons, magazines, and pottery.

This is the sort of unique shopping experience that I rarely stumble upon, and let me tell you, it is always a thrill! No cheap mindless junk, no pieces with a "pretty surface" but a less than honorable birth into existence. Slowly Made Locals is a sanctuary for those of us searching for substance.


It is a space curated with a level of intentionality that falls in direct contrast with contemporary "single use" culture. In a time where so much of what we consume lacks significant meaning, to step into a small world of thoughtful production is life giving.

Slowly's carefully created pieces range from vibrant art prints to decadent salves, and just about everything in between. Each object carries a story, and while I'd argue that this holds true for all products everywhere, not just those consciously crafted, what sets these apart is that they are stories of light, of joy, and for me personally, of hope.





SYMPTOMS OF MODERN SOCIETY


If you are here, you likely already know that much of what we consume today is a byproduct of modern slavery, from the shoes on our feet to the bar of chocolate in our cupboard. Once made aware of this tragic reality, daily decision making becomes imbued with internal conflict. It feels like a trap, where even our best intentions hurt someone down the line. When the systems of our modern society were built with irreverence to basic morality, how are we meant to function?


Rare gems like Slowly Made Locals are of the few places where you can let your guard down. You are assured that, once you've crossed their threshold, you've entered a place where intentionality reigns over all else. You not only leave with a purchase that you love, but one that you can feel confident is a small part of the of the greater solution.



MEET ARTIST CLAIRE RITCHIE


"Claire’s process is drenched in intentionality, from the meaning she pours into her design aesthetic, to the strict protocol she follows with the production of her pieces, right down to the fibers from which they're weaved."


I stepped into the shop cautiously, almost tiptoeing, holding my fujifilm camera up high against my chest, and hugging my coat and cross body bag tightly to my hip as to not knock about any items on display. I am new to the blogging space, and am perhaps over anxious about coming off as intrusive, which almost certainly makes my presence more awkward. C'est la vie.


Portrait of Claire Ritchie in black sweater and olive trousers.
Artist Claire Ritchie

I asked the shopkeep if she minded me taking photos, and this simple inquiry quickly evolved into a rather lovely conversation about the ins and outs of life as a slow maker.

The "shopkeep" in question turned out to be Claire Ritchie, one of Slowly Made Locals 7 primary craftspeople, and as it turns out, quite the established artist across Oceana and abroad. Ritchie’s process is drenched in intentionality, from the meaning she pours into her design aesthetic, to the strict protocol she follows with the production of her pieces, right down to the fibers from which they're weaved. We discussed her preference for linen over cotton

(linen being less thirsty), the daunting

Fabric print of abstract colorful flowers hanging over rack of clothing.
Print by Claire Ritchie

undertaking of working with an ethical and sustainable supply chain, as well as the joy she aims to infuse into every ounce of her brightly colored work. All of this lead to one concrete point: To be a slow crafter is to care. It is to have your mind consumed by how your every action affects everyone, even (and in many cases especially) those far from sight.

As someone who can often feel alone in caring about the bigger picture, this conversation with Claire was a timely reminder that I am not.




INSPIRING MINDFUL LIVING


What the artists and craftspeople at Slowly Made Locals have curated is something to be proud of. It is a warm and feel good space filled with pieces that inspire us to be more considerate in our day to day lives.


Original art for sale from Brisbane artist Holly Neilson of Paper Hands.
Print by Paper Hands

In a time where we are drowning in thoughtlessly mass produced stuff, wandering into a tiny world of intentionally crafted pieces breaths into us a new level of conscientiousness. It reminds us to value process, to consume with purpose, and to live each day with compassion for the planet we call home, and for the beautifully diverse people that make up our global community.






GET IN CONNECT WITH SLOWLY MADE LOCALS


Sandwich board advertising for "slowly made locals".

Check them out on Instagram:

@slowlymadelocals



Shop in person:

33 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington QLD 4064.



Shop hours:

Wednesday - Friday: 10am -3pm

Saturday and Sunday: 9am-2pm

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