Booked out workshops and new residents as Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield plans to grow

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By David Russell

Forging a knife from molten steel probably isn’t something most people would associate with a trip to the Barossa. Even more surprising is that it can be done in the decadent surrounds of one of Australia’s most prestigious wineries. It’s just one of the activities attracting visitors from around the world to Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield.

Now two years old, the satellite premises of Australia’s leading craft and design organisation are going from strength to strength, offering studios to professional artisans, gallery spaces and a shop where the hand-crafted works of artists-in-residence can be sold. But it’s the workshops visitors can take part in that are the biggest drawcard.

“Most of our tenants in the studios are also conducting short courses and workshops,” CEO Brian Parkes told Inside South Australia.

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Knives forged in Barry Gardener’s workshop. Photo: Dragan Radocaj.

“The most successful of those is Barry Gardener’s knife-making workshops, which are now booked out around 12 months in advance… He’s got people coming from as far away as Denmark and Israel to do the Damascus knife-forging workshop.”

In addition to Barry there are two leather workers, a milliner (hat maker), a glass artist and two ceramic artists, including new resident Angela Walford, a potter specialising in tableware. Some of the artists are locals, while others relocated to the Barossa from other parts of Australia to take up the opportunity.

Shoe and leather maker Rose-Anne Russell in her studio

Shoe and leather maker Rose-Anne Russell in her studio. Photo: Dragan Radocaj.

CEO Brian says that the idea for Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield came from a desire to do more regionally and support regional artist development. When Seppeltsfield and Managing Director Warren Randall expressed an interest to form a partnership, Jam Factory jumped at the chance.

“We saw the opportunity to do something a bit different to what we do here in the city… it’s more a cultural tourism-focussed operation.

“We understood audiences would not necessarily be seeking it (Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield) out as a destination but might encounter it as part of a broader Barossa tourism experience… so we needed to (understand) how the public might engage with the artisans in the studios.”

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Photo: Dragan Radocaj.

The popularity of the studios mean Jam Factory will be in the Barossa for the long haul. They also have plans to expand.

“We see it (the studios) as a hub for cultural activity in the Barossa. We’re keen to expand the work we do with local schools and communities in terms of arts education, and we’re certainly keen to add a couple more tenants to the list.

“There’s (also) one part of the building we haven’t refurbished, which is two story… we plan to have an artist-in-residence apartment with views over the vineyard and anticipate that will attract artists from interstate and overseas.”

Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield is open seven days a week, 11 am to 5 pm. For more details visit the Seppeltsfield website.

Jam Factory is a member of Brand South Australia. Banner photo: Dragan Radocaj.

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