Monday, May 11, 2009

The Melbourne Dossier: Bridget Farmer

Today we are sharing the first of what will hopefully be an ongoing series of interview/quick questions with Melbourne locals. We can't promise it will be regular, or even that it will be every week, but we hope to try and get inspired by other people's favorite Melbourne places.

First up is Bridget Farmer, the artist behind Bridbird - you may have seen her felt brooches or etchings at numerous markets, galleries or shops around Melbourne. If not be sure to head over to her website or blog to have a look, or drop by her etsy store where you can pick one up for yourself.
image from bridbird

How long have you lived in Melbourne?
I've lived here since November 2005. so thats about 3 1/2 years. I'm originally from northern Ireland and came here to visit friends while traveling on a round the world ticket. In my first month here I met my partner, Jeremy, and I stayed until my visa ran out (11 months, not the planned 5) then I came right back again!

What do you do with yourself?
I'm an artist. I work from home. I make felt brooches and screen prints for markets and online and I also have a more serious side in which I make etchings that I sell through galleries and online.
image from bridgetfarmer

Best place in Melbourne to...
...have a coffee?
I don't drink coffee, but I do drink hot chocolate and I'd have to say the best place to have one of those is Monsieur Truffe. Thick, rich, dark chocolate heaven!

image from fitzroyalty out? You'll soon see I'm a bit of a smith street girl, not meaning I scream and shout a lot, but that smith street holds a lot of my favourite haunts. I LOVE Wabi Sabi Salon, the best japanese restaurant outside of japan! Even if you're on the move get a wabi sabi sushi roll, so good, yet still so cheap. They're so good that they've spoilt me, I find it difficult to eat sushi anywhere else now! Or if you have a bit more time to eat in, go to the back garden and experience a little piece of Japanese tranquility and eat your bento box cross legged on a beautiful japanese style verandah. To really treat ourselves Jeremy and I go there in the evening for dinner. So full by the end, but not able to resist the temptation of green tea icecream! people? meet new people? ummmmm, I'm not so sure about that one... Jeremy often goes to The Night Cat, he likes live music. I don't really get to go out much at the weekends due to doing my markets on saturday and sunday.

...see/hear/experience some art or culture? There are so many live bands in Melbourne, I think a lot of the time it's just down to luck, being in the right place at the right time. One of the most memorable bands I saw was in the Retreat on Sydney Road. There were three of us and about two other people in the room and this band was playing just for us and they were just brilliant. Of course I can't remember what they were called unfortunately. But we chanced upon them by accident and I think sometimes that makes an experience like that even more special.
I'd also recommened the Australian Print Workshop on Gertrude Street for beautiful Australian etchings, wood cuts, lithographs, all types of printmaking. It is closed for renovation at the moment, not to open again for a number of months. But well worth a visit when it re opens. It also has summer courses. It was one of these summer courses, 3 years ago, that introduced me to printmaking.

Perfect way to spend a Melbourne day?
Well, breakfast at Arcadia. I used to work in Arcadia and the owner, Peter, is a good laugh. He's often heard singing from the kitchen! They make superb breakfasts. Eg. Poached eggs with a herbed pan fried potato cake, served with bacon, home made pesto and aoli dressing (Jeremy's favourite) or Arcadian eggs - poached eggs served on toasted rye bread with spinach, ham and aoli mayonnaise (my favourite). Then maybe a look in all the great shops on Gertrude Street - Artisan Books (lovely lovely lovely art and craft book shop , very dangerous for your purse), Industria ,vintage clothing and furniture, Little Salon, jewellery and accessories from local designers/makers. Circa, vintage clothing pre 1960s and many more. Then maybe a look round the museum, I love the museum in carlton gardens. Down to Wabi Sabi for dinner (of course) and then to Polly on Brunswick street for a fabulous cocktail or two.

Hop tip/must see for someone new or visiting Melbourne?
I think it's important for new Melbournians or visitors to get out and see the suburbs, I don't mean like Ringwood or anything, but Fitzroy, Brunswick, even Northcote (I love Northcote) Thats where everything is really happening, not the CBD!

Tell us a Melbourne hidden gem?
I recently stumbled upon the Federation Bells while wondering around with a visiting friend. They are the most beautiful thing to be amongst while they are playing. The play daily from 12.30 to 1.30, and 5 to 6. They are situated in the grounds of Birrarung Marr which is kind of behind Federation Square, along the river, behind the Ferris wheel with all the lights on it. This is my favourite thing in Melbourne at the moment. You can even compose tunes for them on this website -

What Melbourne locals interest and inspire you?
Melbourne seems to have a great arty/ crafty core. Now that I'm part of the market seen I see my fellow stall holders work here there and everywhere in Melbourne's wonderful galleries and local-designer boutiques. It's great to see such a thriving 'handmade' scene, which couldn't happen if it wasn't for all the fantastic markets being organised in each suburb. My main market is Rose Street Artists Market, in Fitzroy. It has such a great vibe about it.

Favorite Melbourne blogs or websites?
This is a great blog for crafty types
The first blog I ever got into was Anna Blanford's she showed me how to make my own blog and now we are friends!

and I like my blog, or is that cheeky?!

Only in Melbourne can you...
meet a lovely man and decide to stay! I have three other friends from the uk who this has happened to! I'm telling you, Melbourne men!!

Thanks so much to Bridget for kicking off the series, and giving us some new places to check out, I don't think I've spent enough time down Smith Street and I need to head there asap...


  1. I am really impressed with this collection of things to go try. I can't wait to check out Wabi Sabi Salon, Polly, Circa and Arcadia.

    Not to sure about Melbourne men though? Bridget is definetly going to different spots then I am!

  2. Her work is really nice. I love the idea of interviews with locals, great way to find out about new stuff!

  3. Excellent blog! What a cool way to get the message out about things to do and see around Melbourne...

    I found you through a friend who posted for seven am cafe...

  4. Love the interview format.
    Can't wait for the next one.

  5. woah woah woah, you're bridbird?! Talk about a small world, a few weeks ago at the Hawthorn craft market I was looking at your stuff! Not sure if you remember me, I said I liked the tea print and took your business card so I could look at your etsy site. How funny :)