ACME et al

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You might have noticed that over the last few weeks I've turned my attention to the Yarra Valley.  I am having so much fun there. The Archibald, Not the Archies and now I'm really happy to show you this wonderful diverse little gem, ACME et al, right on the main drag in Yarra Glen. Husband and wife team, Morgan and James Calder have married their passions and expertise to create a real ripper of an arts and design haunt. They acknowledge the assistance of Mel Scott who has worked closely with them at ACME. They describe her as their "right hand woman" who has greatly contributed to ideas and the vision of their organization. 

I think it's fair to say that it's the only place of its kind anywhere in Victoria.  It reminded me a bit of The Meadow in NYC, except that it doesn't sell salt. The Meadow is also run by a husband and wife team.  The husband, Mark Bitterman, has a passion for salt and his wife, Jennifer, a passion for great interiors, flowers and chocolate. They put together THE most delightful shop... selling their selections of the best things in life. Everything about it... from the shelving, to the exquisite salt cellars, oozed beauty and soul.  ACME et al has the same quality.  It's clear that Morgan and James have a passion for what they're doing. Morgan, a graphic designer, has a great eye for textiles, jewellery and other hand made products.  While Jame's collection of old cameras (he adds photography and wine making to the skill set) is dotted around the stylishly constructed shelves and benches. There's Angela Clark's vintage jewellery, Annie Campbell's soaps and massage oils, Gayle Lorraine Designs and Elma Morgan textiles, Elliot Golightly ceramics, Flamboyant Joe's jewellery and paper accessories, Julie Wee's fine silver jewellery, Flossy-p illustrations, Gina and May umbrellas, Mim Kocher's quirky, sculptures and textiles.

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Peter McLisky metal sculptures.

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Mim Kocher's paper clay sculptures with recycled bases.

This shop would fit happily anywhere in the hippest most happening shopping strips in Melbourne.  The Avenue Bookstore in Albert Park (my favourite bookshop of all time) is the place that I have missed the most since moving to Warrandyte.  The good news... the best news... is that the fab bookshelves below, at ACME et al are restocked by that very bookshop every Sunday.  The owner of The Avenue Bookstore hand picks books that fit with the various themes of the store.  Art, photography, design, food and wine.  What an unbeatable combination!  Every second book I picked up I wanted to own...with a birthday coming up I should start dropping the odd hint.  Now I can enjoy an Avenue Bookstore experience without once going through a traffic light!!!  Oh bliss oh joy!

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Shoppers can happily bring the kids as there's a generous space especially for them with the coolest little bean bags and recycled materials to construct with, all of which is surrounded by the best in children's books.

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There are presently artworks tucked away in drawers that will be brought out and placed in racks for your enjoyment and purchase.  Artists featured here are, Kenneth Jack, Tony Irving, John Brack, Andrew Sibley, Irena Sibley, Pro Hart and Geoffrey Ricardo.

So that's the front of the shop.  The important thing to know is that's not all....there's way more!  Walk up the stairs beyond the shop and you find yourself in a lovely white walled gallery space. It's currently hosting an exhibition of portraits of actor John Wood to coincide with the Archibald at TWMA.  Venture beyond the gallery further and you find a studio space, big enough to host workshops.  In fact the portraits in the gallery were all completed on the premises in the studio space, under the watchful tutelage of the winner of the $30,000 Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award in 2006, Raelene Sharp.

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Portrait by Raelene Sharp© (above)

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Portrait by Ria Brenchley © 

Upcoming exhibitions:

A Common Thread  July 29th-August 29th.

"For those sensuous tactillians...A soul soothing return to natural fibres without the blah and beige of before." From the ACME Newsletter.

Artists include, Gayle Burgess (felting), Janet Knoop (spinning), Anne Churches (weaving), Gayle Burgess (Tunisian Crochet), Elma Morgan (crochet), Brigitte Haldemann (knitting), Kerry Robertson and Kaye Adolphson (embroidery), Lynne McDonald (beading), Meg and Alice Lowery (lace making), Jude Craig (marks on fabric)

Yarra Valley's Clandestine Wine Exhibition (adults only wine and art exhibition).

September 3rd-2nd October

"Like the buds of spring, this exhibition will burst open on the first Saturday of September with the Yarra Valley's progressive vignerons unveiling their small batch, boutique or experimental wines.  Each wine will be displayed with a work of fine erotic art expecially chosen for its comparability to the characteristics of the wine... Wine tastings will be available each weekend of the event." From ACME Newsletter.

How can you resist that one!

Upcoming workshops

Art in Business- Karen Scott

Wednesday 27th July 7-9pm

Art Yarn Spinning. Master Class 1- Janet Knoop

Saturday 30th July 10am-4pm.

Then just before Christmas a twilight market is planned where shop suppliers will bring their wares for eager Christmas shoppers to fill the space under their Christmas tree with very special hand made gifts.  I'm already planning to save my Christmas shopping till then and knock it all over in one fun evening.

Regular readers  know I love the work of Margaret McLoughlin.  Turns out that Morgan and James are pretty keen on her work too. So much so that they asked her to draw a portrait of Morgan for the back lit opaque window at the front of the shop.  

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There's so much to see and do at ACME et al that you need to go there with lots of time to take it all in... and yes I did wonder if Morgan and James ever find time to sleep. There's talk of a coffee shop in the courtyard at the back which would just about cap off the whole experience.

ACME et al can be found at 17 Bell Street Yarra Glen.  For more details about workshops, follow them on FB or check out their website.

Parent Category: Arts
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