The Docklands shopfront activation bringing art enthusiasts and chocoholics together
As a self-proclaimed chocoholic and graduate of food science and product design, Danyoung (Young) Chen decided to combine her passions and open her very own edible painting shop, Yesign Chocolate Gallery.
Making this idea come to fruition wasn’t always an easy process for Young, who originally started out in a petite space in Little Collins St and struggled with not having enough room for workshops.
But, after successfully applying for the Shopfront Activation Program, which is part of the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government’s $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund, she found her perfect solution in Docklands.
“It was unbelievable [to be accepted], because we needed a bigger space and it is better for us to have a private kitchen and a small office for storage, and this shop gave us everything,” she said.
Yesign Chocolate Gallery has been situated on Wharf St in District Docklands for the past three months, and it seems to have already made a potentially lasting mark on the area with the council extending the lease. Currently contracted for eight months, Young has spent a lot of time and effort renovating and decorating the space.
Inside the Docklands gallery are various edible chocolate artworks on display, some of which closely resemble famous artists’ paintings, but her vision to teach people the art of chocolate painting remains her priority.
“Each month we have themed workshops, and [on the day] I give people some background information about how we do chocolate painting and teach a few different techniques and skills that will need to be used in the session,” Young said.
“I then also show them other paintings that use these skills, so there is a bit of basic art education involved too. Then we just paint coloured chocolate on top of a chocolate block, and that thin layer of art makes that chocolate unique to the person who made it.”
Young said this concept had also seen many people with differing hobbies come together, and she enjoys watching people find common ground while doing something completely unlike anything they may have tried before.
Spreading joy and happiness through this new creative outlet is her number one priority, and she is already making steps forward in introducing NDIS participants and aged care groups to the fun that is edible painting.
Yesign Chocolate Gallery is among 40 established and aspiring businesses the City of Melbourne has supported through the $2.6 million Shopfront Activation Program, which has been delivered in partnership with property acquisition and leasing specialists Renew Australia, The Place Agency and Ginnane & Associates.
Also recently coming to Docklands, as part of the latest selected shopfronts, is The Mbassy Dance which can now be found at 915 Collins St.
Opened for just under a month, The Mbassy Dance founding director Minx Hafon has already made the space home, with more than 14 different dance classes, including Latin dance styles, already offered on a weekly basis.
“It is very exciting [to be selected], and we are thrilled to be back in person after teaching online in our living rooms for two years,” Minx said. “It really helps to be supported by the city that we have represented for so long.”
The Mbassy Dance is a studio aiming to spread awareness around the different aspects of Latin culture, and with a multitude of specifically tailored activations and events ahead, it seems it’s also well on track to doing exactly what the program was designed for. •