Category Archives: Culture

Handmade for the holidays

“People should never be shy of signing up for a workshop and having a go.”

LEARNING A NEW creative skill can be a big step for busy people, so there’s no better time than the holidays to make a plan to attend a workshop; and Glen Innes at the heart of the NSW New England region is the destination for handmade.

STONE SETTING Precision work on a pendant.

Resident silversmith at The Makers Shed, Richard Moon has been teaching metalworking and jewellery-making techniques for four years, and runs regular full or half-day courses for beginners and those with a few skills at the Glen Innes venue.

“I thoroughly enjoy helping people realise their visions in jewellery form,” he says. “It’s always a reminder of how I started out. Attending a two-day ring-making workshop in 2007 really set me on my course to becoming a full-time silversmith”.

“It really is possible to design and make a piece of jewellery in just one day,” he says. “We have all the equipment here at The Makers Shed, and if you want to bring a friend or two along, we have six silversmithing benches ready for your workshop. I’m here to ensure everyone goes home with a unique handmade experience under their belt, and a special piece to wear or give as a gift. You’ll sleep well that night, because even though the process doesn’t take up much space, it’s extremely challenging on the mind!”

CUTTING EDGE Printmaker Nadia Kliendanze finds inspiration in the everyday.

Also giving an upcoming workshop at The Makers Shed is Inverell’s award-winning printmaker Nadia Kliendanze, whose exhibition ‘Printed Matter Only’ is showing throughout the summer.

“I love to teach printmaking and linoprinting in particular, which is my favourite print medium,” Nadia says. “Beginners usually catch on fairly quickly. Those that already have an artistic practice of some sort create their own original linoprints, however, I have a selection of images that complete beginners can use. After all, it’s about learning the process, not learning to draw”.

“I undertook a Diploma of Fine Arts at my local TAFE and discovered printmaking,” she says. “I was initially attracted to the media because of its graphic nature and also the fact that it was an easy way to share my artworks with lots of people at a reasonable cost”.

PRINTED MATTER ONLY St Stephen’s Green, linoprint by Nadia Kliendanze.

“Later on when I undertook a visual arts degree and a masters in printmaking at Monash University I continued to work more intensely in that medium.”

Nadia’s exhibition encompasses botanical motifs, iconic destinations in Australia and Europe and often references well-known prints from the past, such as Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’, but she also turns her attentions to the everyday.

“Sometimes I create a print out of something I have seen on my morning walk,” she says.

HANDMADE HEAVEN Ceramicist Anita Stewart is a member of Glen Innes Pottery Club.

Glen Innes-based ceramicist and potter Anita Stewart regularly has work on show at The Makers Shed, and is gearing up to share her skills over the summer at the Glen Innes Pottery Club, situated like the Shed on Grey Street, the town’s main drag.

“Discovering clay for me was like a fish taking to water,” she says. “I studied Fine Arts in Western Australia for three years. Like many artists, I had been practicing before I actually decided to do formal training. At Fremantle Tech I did units in painting design and drawing, then in 1995 I travelled to the New England region and discovered the wonderful ceramics courses run by Max Powell at the Glen Innes TAFE”.

“The inspiration to create a new body of work usually comes when working on new forms at the wheel. For instance, the last federal election inspired my ‘message in a bottle’ series. Using the surface of the pot as a canvas I add multiple layers to create an image that speaks. The New England Landscape has also given me great inspiration for my work.”

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Ceramic vases by Anita Stewart.

According to Anita, the Glen Innes Pottery Club was established about 30 years ago, and has remained a vibrant part of the community. “Lots of well-known potters have been a part of the club,” she says.

Winner of multiple awards for her ceramics, Anita laughs when asked to define what it takes to be a practicing artist, adding that “stamina, determination and absolute passion” are essentials for anyone wanting to make a long-term career of creativity; although she believes people should never be shy of signing up for a workshop and having a go.

“It’s really nice teaching people how to work with clay because it’s a very tactile medium and they usually seem really pleased when they’ve created a functional and colourful work of art,” she says. “The wheel can be a bit more of a challenge, but they are overjoyed when they manage to throw a pot on the wheel.”

A complete range of handmade work by artisans from across the New England region is always available at The Makers Shed, and a regular schedule of creative workshops.

www.themakersshed.org

A painter’s perseverance

AFTER MORE THAN twenty years living and working in the New England region, Danish-born artist Marianne la Cour shared her sense of place in an exhibition of new work at Glen Innes throughout Spring.

“I finally feel a strong connection to this area,” she says. “As with most migrants, it takes a while to feel a part of a new place, to get a sense of belonging. It wasn’t really until I moved to the countryside that I found that connection”.

“I would find it hard to live anywhere else. I love this region, its seasons, its nature and its people. They have all been a part of changing me to whom I am today. I feel so lucky to have found this place.”

Having grown up with an appreciation of abstract art, design processes and handmade principles, Marianne says she is “deeply influenced” by her cultural heritage and many northern European painters.

“I am a great fan of Danish painters Per KirkebyMaja Lisa Engelhardt and Mogens Andersen, to name a few,” Marianne says. She also cites Australian painters Elizabeth Cummings, Ann Thompson, Sally Gabori, Angus Nivison and Ross Laurie as sources of inspiration.

MAKER’S MARK Marianne la Cour utilises acrylic paint and pastel.

Describing her creative journey as “long and winding”, Marianne was encouraged by her mother and grandmothers. “In my younger years I wanted to be a ceramicist and an author. Later, I wanted to be an architect, but none of that happened. In Denmark, as education was paid by the government, they would only let in a certain amount of students every year to the art school and the academy of architecture”.

“I tried several times, but never got in. Instead, I ended up in a bank, which was testing for my creative mind; but later in life it proved a very beneficial education to have when running a small business. When I moved to Australia in my thirties, I decided now was the time and I immersed myself in TAFE courses and workshops, and I have never looked back.”

According to Marianne, being a practising artist in the 21st century takes hard work, time and perseverance.

“It’s a lot easier now with the internet and social media, but when I started many years ago it was almost impossible for a country artist to get a foot in the door. Rocking up with your portfolio to art galleries was tough. Sometimes you got lucky but mostly it was just a disappointment.

“Today you cannot run an art business or a creative business without a presence on social media and websites. You are essentially doing all the work the gallery owners used to do for you. More than fifty percent of my time is dedicated to having a presence on the internet, and you still have to get out there and put your work in competitions and organise exhibitions. You also have to learn to write, take good photos and constantly keep up with the technology.”

When asked about what made her stick to her dream despite the obstacles, Marianne says: “I think I always was an artist, it just took a long time for ‘it’ to flourish. When I moved to Australia, becoming an artist was my ultimate goal, and I never lost sight of that. I did a lot of other things as well to keep bread on the table, but every opportunity I had to create, I took”.

“That’s what I mean about perseverance. I keep my hands busy and my mind open. I started out small and stayed small. That just fitted best into my lifestyle, which is very important to me.”

Marianne’s 2019 exhibition ‘Landliv’ (literally ‘rural life’ in Danish) ran at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes until the end of November.

“This body of work is executed with acrylic paint,” she says. “I have also used ink, charcoal and pastel and in some of the paintings I have used fabric and paper. I have always been drawn to mixed media and collage, and quite often it finds it way into my paintings.”

Through her online business Colours on Grey, Marianne promotes regular creative workshops at her inspiring rural-set studio just outside Glen Innes.

“I love to share my skills, my way of painting and I suppose my way of looking at art,” she says. “I want it to be easy and simple for participants. When I teach, I really try to simplify things and make sure they have something to be happy about by the end of the workshop. If they leave frustrated they are never going to give it a go at home, and I am a firm believer that we all need a little bit of creativity in our lives.”

This article first appeared in New England Living magazine.

Cultivating storytellers in the rural heartland

Story by Michael Burge

LOCAL FANS OF good writing have every reason to celebrate, with a season of literary initiatives and acclaimed broadcaster Mary Moody — coming to the New England region between October 25th and December 1st for the High Country Writers Festival. As an author and journalist who learned to use the written word at Delungra Public School, I’m thrilled to be bringing wordsmiths together in a region that has always fostered storytellers.

RURAL HEARTLAND: Waterloo Station, Glen Innes.

Writers will have a unique opportunity to prime their skills and draw inspiration at iconic Waterloo Station between Glen Innes and Inverell when the festival kicks off at the High Country Writers Retreat from October 25th to 27th. Inverell resident Virginia Eddy (the force behind Boorama, her business strategy outfit, pictured above) is partnering with The Makers Shed, Glen Innes, to assist writers in adopting a micro-business approach.

Returning to the region after four decades has been huge for Virginia. “When I left my Melbourne world, a friend told me: ‘Don’t ever forget that there is a reason you are returning. Look and listen for it’,” she says. “Even though I’ve been here for six years, every time I drive out the Yetman Road north of Inverell, I’m imbued with the deep sense that I’m going home. Our family left the region when I was ten.”

Virginia believes that being a writer and being in business can be a comfortable coexistence. “Regardless of whether writers are published independently or by traditional means, business knowledge and acumen underpins their capacity for independence,” she says. “Micro-businesses should be built on the same primary foundations and frameworks as major corporations, except scaled accordingly”.

“I urge writers to imagine they are weaving potent little miracles of business around their output. These don’t happen with templates, or overnight. They’re a lifelong practice.”

TOUCH OF LUXURY: Waterloo Station Shearers Lodgings.

Despite one of the worst droughts we’ve seen in the New England, Virginia encourages writers to share Waterloo Station as a home-away-from-home during the retreat. “Whether they’re from the bush, the city, or both, it’s a chance to pause, absorb the landscape, the built environment, the past and evolving social history,” she says. “I believe the Station’s restorations (under the stewardship of Deborah and Don Anderson) will speak for themselves; but as a writer working on one of my own manuscripts, I look forward to hearing others’ perspectives.”

Being a regional-returner myself, I know what it’s like to seek a sense of place in a rural community. Growing up on a property out of Delungra prepared me for the profound tranquility of rural life, but living and working across the world has allowed me to bring home a host of skills.

I began mentoring writers after my independently-published memoir Questionable Deeds was selected for the Brisbane Writers Festival. I was so swamped by queries about how I managed it that I wrote the process into a short, accessible guidebook. Participants at the High Country Writers Retreat will be mentored on adapting these principles to their writing and publishing practices.

But there’ll also be plenty of writing time, one-to-one sessions and inspirational experiences at Waterloo Station. Virginia is well underway with transitioning into a literary writer, and I am always up for fresh insights into business and marketing, so we’ll be attending each other’s sessions at the retreat. Come and join us!

From the heart

The High Country Writers Festival continues on Saturday November 30th and Sunday December 1st at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes, when Mary Moody, one of Australia’s most beloved and bestselling authors, launches her first book in a decade: The Accidental Tour Guide. She spoke with me about what inspired her to return to autobiography.

Mary Moody

“Memoir forces people to reflect on the events of their lives and to gain an understanding of how they reacted to those moments,” she says. “I have found that writing down difficult events somehow crystallizes them. The Accidental Tour Guide contrasts the highs of exploration and adventure against the lows of death and loss.”

Since the publication of a string of bestselling memoirs, bridging her life in rural France and regional Australia, Mary has relocated from the farm she shared with her late husband, filmmaker David Hannay.

“I now live with my youngest son and his family in the Blue Mountains. This supportive environment makes it possible for me to continue my adventure travels, knowing I have a safe haven to return to, every time,” she says.

Mary will also hold her popular ‘Writing from the Heart’ workshop at The Makers Shed during the festival. “I never cease to be amazed and delighted at the stories people tell me of their amazing lives. It’s just knowing where to start and how to keep those stories flowing. Often people want to write the stories of their parents or grandparents and these are equally as inspiring. I believe we will never tire of reading about other people’s lives. It helps us to make sense of our own.”

The tussle between nesting and migrating is a constant theme in Mary’s work, giving insights into the fortunes of regional communities in many countries. “It’s always the people that create a community, and it makes me sad to see regions where failing economics makes it impossible for people to live where they were born,” she says. “We need to encourage more young families to live in rural areas – the benefits of this lifestyle are many and varied.”

Described as Eat, Pray, Love meets The Year of Magical Thinking, Mary’s new memoir is an inner and outer journey through uncharted territory. “I’m really looking forward to touring with this new book. I particularly love small independent bookshops and places where there are active and enthusiastic book clubs. Australians are great readers – they devour good books and it’s wonderful to know that here we have such a vibrant and viable publishing industry. At the end of the day I just love meeting people and talking.”

The High Country Writers Festival is an initiative of The Makers Shed. This article was first published in New England Living magazine.