COOL PEOPLE DOING COOL THINGS
By Amy Lovat
Justine from The Olive Tree Markets
“I’d like to see the arts community being taken seriously and engaged and supported in a meaningful way. More than anything I think creativity, community and innovation is what is putting Newcastle on the map.”
In a world of chain stores, fast fashion and cheap knock-off products, shopping local is the best way to support the local economy, the planet, and a growing creative community such as the one I’m proud to be part of in Newcastle.
Justine Gaudry founded Newie’s iconic Olive Tree Markets with two friends back in 2008, before local markets were a ‘thing’, and now runs the show single-handedly as a full-time (albeit basically non-profit!) career. Coming from a background in film, having worked all around the world in remote communities and making political documentaries, Justine has always been passionate about supporting local and sharing stories with a social focus.
“I grew up with my mother and uncles at Paddington Markets in the 1970s, my sister at Glebe Markets in the 1990s; my grandfather started the Adamstown Lions Markets, and some of my most significant moments travelling have been at markets in London, Istanbul, Cairo and Marrakesh. All hypnotic places full of colour, art, people, smells, vibrancy. Places of intrigue, trade, hustle and bustle, opportunity. And people, always people.”
I still remember attending the very first Olive Tree Markets, way back in 2008. As a creative, I’d been craving something to inspire me and was saddened by the lack of community events and artist support in Newcastle. On the day, I walked around with my mouth agape, completely blown away by the fun, eclectic community vibe of the market. It’s been my favourite weekend activity ever since.
Christmas is just around the corner (deep breaths), so come along to the Olive Tree Markets at Civic Park to find the perfect unique, handmade and sustainable gifts by local artisans and creatives – 2nd and 16th December, 9am-3pm.
When did you first have the idea for The Olive Tree Markets?
I had a chance meeting with two strangers – Bec and Ally – in May 2008, and the market grew out of our need for something new, our passion for community, and our love of creativity.
Newcastle needed a community-based market as a platform for artists and designers, where people could come together, experience creativity, discover a part of their city, collaborate and support each other. Those initial months were an exciting blur. We had around 60 stallholders, but it grew quickly and organically, so now we have around 145 high-quality stalls at each event. We’ve grown the live music offering, produce free artist workshops for the community, have had orchestras, performers and contemporary dance, and developed a partnership with Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
What does The Olive Tree Markets offer the Newcastle community?
The Olive Tree Markets offer alternatives to imported goods, often made with unsustainable and unethical practices, that flood the global economy. We are an increasingly conscious and educated community who support people in the arts and who are striving to make and create in a way that is mindful of our planet and people. It’s about the importance of playing a part in supporting what you believe in. And of course it’s about creativity and the arts.
What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
It’s a privilege to watch and play a part in the artists’ journeys, both creatively and personally, and help sustain people’s creative careers. I love watching the market happen every month… Coming to the park in the dark, early morning, and then seeing it appear like a mirage, knowing that it brings people happiness and is a strong part of the cultural fabric of Newcastle.
Tell me about your dream for an ideal society/country/planet…
I strongly believe that we have to start caring more about each other and the planet we live on. Having a social conscience, standing up for equality, slowing down and feeling the earth under our feet. There are amazing people doing admirable things, but I think we collectively need to take more responsibly and enact change on a daily basis in our lives. It’s inspiring to see young people doing great things and that gives me a lot of hope. Newcastle has a lot cool young people.
Check out www.theolivetreemarket.com.au and follow them on Instagram @olivetreemarket. Read the full interview at www.coolpeoplecoolthings.com.