Category Archives: Art

Lineage and landscape: get back to Deepwater for the art

A SPLASH of creativity is resurfacing in the New England Deepwater district, with a team of locals gearing up to deliver the town’s beloved art show again in autumn 2023.

Last held in 2014, the event is a significant fundraiser for the region. From March 31 to April 4, 2023, it will feature guest artists and work by local creatives and artisans against a backdrop of music, workshops and food at Deepwater’s School of Arts.

Convenor Catie Macansh said she has been delighted by the enthusiastic response to the revival of this community event.

“It’s great to have the generous support of sponsors, led by Highlands Real Estate Glen Innes, which is backing our major art award.

“We encourage artists from across the region to prepare their very best work and enter it for our three-day, curated exhibition, with $4500 of judged prizes in the mix.”

Artist Jane Henry returned to live and work on a cattle and cropping property in the Dumaresq Valley, and will be one of several featured artists at the event.

“It is wonderful to have the opportunity to share some creativity and stimulus with a small rural community like Deepwater, as they are always extremely welcoming and appreciative,” she said.

“The opportunity to socialise, meet new people and enjoy new experiences is embraced wholeheartedly and I love to support this interaction by displaying my creative impressions.”

SLOW-STITCHED Botanical artwork by Jane Henry

Henry will be exhibiting a collection of intricate artworks combining her love of Australian flora and paying homage to her mother and grandmothers, who passed down the skill and appreciation of slow needlework.

“I am constantly extending the capabilities of stitching on paper with natural fibres, dyes and natural objects I collect,” she said. 

“These are extremely intricate and time consuming pieces which showcase and preserve various natural forms.”

Stunning homelands

Lauren Rogers is a proud Ngarabal woman whose mob comes from the Deepwater region and has strong ancestral ties there. She is “blessed and humbled” to be invited to exhibit her contemporary Indigenous art at the Deepwater Art Show.

“I am thrilled to return to my traditional homelands to connect with my Country, the land, and my ancestors,” she said.

COMING HOME Ngarabal artist Lauren Rogers

“Sharing my artwork with the Deepwater community and celebrating First Nations’ history and culture will be a memorable experience.”

Rogers will bring pieces from her Coming Home collection, sharing important stories of her Ngarabal Country lineage to honour what she calls the “stunning geographical location” of Deepwater. 

“My preferred medium is acrylic on canvas, using vibrant colours to contrast and expose the deferring dimensions in the painting,” she said.

Ochre Lawson (pictured in main image) grew up on properties near Wollomombi and Glen Innes. 

“This time spent in native bush gave me a great love and appreciation for our wildness areas and how important they are for their beauty and health and wellbeing of the land,” she said.

“All my work is based on trips into wilderness country throughout Australia, where I gather source material through en plein air sketching, hiking deep into remote areas such as the Tasmanian high country, Kosciuszko and Washpool National Park.”  

Lawson says participating in the Deepwater Art Show and being able to support the Arts in regional NSW is very special. 

“As the Deepwater show is a fundraiser for different local charities, I’m very happy to participate knowing how important these organisations are for rural communities.  

“I feel very lucky to have grown up in rural Australia and feel that connection between city and country is more important than ever if we are to band together to battle climate change.”

A selection of Lawson’s semi-abstract paintings from her Kosciuszko, outback New South Wales, and Tasmanian series will be exhibited at the Deepwater School of Arts.

‘Organised mess’

Toowoomba-based artist Monique Correy grew up in Glen Innes and feels lucky to maintain strong connections with rural NSW.

“My parents aren’t farmers but we had all sorts of animals growing up and this has definitely had an impact on the things I paint,” she said.

DUCKS FOR DEEPWATER Artwork by Monique Correy

“I love the Glen Innes and surrounding community – they have been so supportive of me and It means a lot that I can give back in some way by being a part of this show.”

Known for her distinct painterly brushstrokes and stripped-back style, Correy describes her paintings as “an organised mess”.

After her first exhibition sold out on opening night, she is bringing some beloved favourites to Deepwater Art Show.

“Everyone loves ducks, and maybe a cowboy or two!” she said.

The final featured artist of the event, Clare Purser enjoys painting and drawing en plein air around her home on Brisbane’s Bayside.

“I’m interested in creating paintings that are evocative and intuitive and express an emotive reaction to the landscape,” she said.

Working mainly in oils and with mixed media on canvas, board and paper, Purser gathers inspiration for her vibrant land- and seascapes from notes and sketches photos..

She was recently as a finalist in the Sunshine Coast, Redlands and Moreton Bay region art awards.

EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE Painter Clare Purser

Unique shindig

A great line of live performers, workshop facilitators, sponsors and special guests are gearing up for the program of events planned by the Deepwater Art Show committee.

Editor of Galah magazine, Annabelle Hickson, will open the show on Friday March 30. Guests will also experience performances by soprano Laura King and other musicians.

This unique opening night shindig will kick off a long weekend of high teas, artisan markets, and a workshop series, all delivered by New England-based creatives, including Carolyn McCosker, Joanne Barr, Adele Chapman-Burgess and Richard Moon.

For more information, tickets and entries, head to the Deepwater Art Show website

Blessed are the rural makers, for we rise above the cultural cringe 

THE ARTISANS OF the New England region in northern inland New South Wales recently rallied to defend ourselves against the myth that we weren’t worth one local shopkeeper’s time.

It was a cultural cringe-worthy episode, because our experience at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes, has been the polar opposite: the artisanal economy of New England is thriving.

When we opened in 2018, my husband Richard Moon was ready to take his jewellery making business onto the high street. His first workspace had been the laundry at our outer Brisbane home. We’d traded at markets and festivals with his handmade designs for long enough to realise how market customers view your business as a little itinerant.

“We’ll be here next month,” was our constant reassurance while selling under canvas, but nothing says permanence and reliability quite the same way as bricks and mortar. 

CREATIVE CENTRAL: The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes

The Makers Shed is a smallish corrugated iron shop at the very southern end of the Glen Innes town centre, at the furthest reach of the council banners and the Christmas lights. Buying the place stretched our resources to the limit, so we did almost all the renovation on a place that had been a pet shop, church and a beloved secondhand shop.

It was my job to plan and launch our website and see to all marketing and social media. I thought it would be a cinch, but the work required to map out what our operation would actually do was huge. This process meant I’d unwittingly spent more than a month creating our business strategy.  

Richard’s commitment to the place was to staff it religiously Wednesdays to Saturdays. He’d spent years running cafés and knew what a killer inconsistency can be on your customer base; but we knew we needed to ensure his significant time commitment had a concrete outcome, and that forged the idea of an open studio.

With a clientele garnered from years doing markets in Brisbane and across the New England region, Richard simply started commuting to the shed from our home at Deepwater to work on his constant list of commissions. 

That he was able to staff our handmade gallery and independent bookshop at the same time was simply a bonus. Working on his pieces in front of customers also embedded the message that The Makers Shed is the destination to confidently buy genuinely handmade products.

Artisans in business

I was pessimistic that a small rural town would have space in its economy for an artisanal business, but shoppers began to come through our red doors almost immediately. To date, we’ve traded on despite the varied challenges of two Covid lockdowns, drought, mouse plague and bushfires. 

We didn’t invent the open studio model, but we’ve certainly proven its merits. Business expanded when we started stocking the work of other local artisans in addition to our own. Customers expect a bit of a treasure trove they can disappear into. If your shop is too sterile, they can feel under pressure, so we started by taking work on consignment. Now we purchase almost all our stock wholesale from artisans in business in New England.

Such creatives are not dabblers or dilettantes, they are actually extremely rare, highly motivated and reliant on sales, so they bend over backwards to make great product customers are drawn to. We’ve also had a sales rep for mass-produced wares through the doors, swearing we’ll break our handmade standards and stock his stuff. When he came back six months later with his cheap, imported trinkets, we were still doing very well in the locally handmade economy. He’s never returned.

The challenge is that an artisan in residence needs time to work in addition to maintaining good customer service. We’ve had to become masters at this delicate art, since we have bills to pay like everyone else, and conversations in shops need to be managed, particularly if someone is waiting to be served.

FORGING ON: Richard Moon working at the anvil

After a few months’ trading, Richard came home agitated about having his work flow interrupted. Commissions are important too, they serve customers who have found us on social media and may never come to Glen Innes. So I suggested that he learn to assertively return to his work after engaging in the conversation for a short time. Forging metal can be loud, so only the really determined will talk over it.

Local manufacturing

We joke about my husband being a bit of a counsellor at times, but in many ways it’s true. Shopkeepers serve a critical purpose, particularly in country towns, and particularly in creative businesses. They come face-to-face with the dreams and hopes of people who seek ways to realise their own creativity. Many times Richard has encountered people on the verge of tears, experiencing a blend of admiration and frustration at not having the time or resources to pursue their creative dreams. 

He listens because he knows that heartbreaking state; then he picks up a hammer and gets back to tapping away at the anvil, showing that it is possible to just make stuff. Without that fundamental act of creation, nothing can happen for artisans.

When they attain a business flow, artisans are local manufacturers in a nation that has given up on making just about everything. In country towns, we trade side-by-side with primary producers, and we have much in common. We all get our hands dirty, and while they feed the body, we feed the mind and soul.

So I want to send a message to anyone inspired by the new year to start their creative business. You might need to begin in the laundry, but one day it could be the right time to take on a fantastic shop on a rural high street.

When it comes, trust that your creative abilities can make not just your product, but also your business plan; and when you meet other artisans, don’t hide. If they’re serious about what they create, they may provide the new energy you need to keep going. 

If they’re coming in for reassurance, gently show them how to just keep making. 

Impressionist Champion captures the light

AN EXHIBITION OF works inspired by the effects of sunlight is set to brighten the walls of The Makers Shed in Glen Innes across winter.

The art of Inverell-based painter Peter Champion, ‘Let the Sun Shine’ features an array of land- and sea-scapes of the New England, Northern Rivers and the eastern seaboard of New South Wales.

“They reflect my constant interest in what we see in sunlight at various times of the day, some being morning, during the day, afternoon and when the moon first appears,” Champion said.

An art teacher trained at the National Art School at East Sydney and the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, Champion is renowned for his Impressionist-inspired works.

“I work in both the studio and ‘plein air’,” he said, describing the French term for capturing a scene in the field.  

“Studio work is usually larger though not always, whereas plein air is the immediate results of being in the landscape or seascape.

“I try to paint them in one session to capture a moment, hence the works are usually smaller,” he said.

Hunting the landscape

LIGHT TOUCH ‘Poplars at Brodies Plains’ by Peter Champion

When painting in the open air, Champion hunts the landscape until he finds a subject he likes, then sets up to work in oils or acrylics. 

“Both have advantages. Acrylic dries very quickly, enabling the layering of paint within a few minutes, whereas oils dry very slowly and colour application has to be different,” he said.

“In oils it is a case of laying thin dark areas and building up the lights over the top. Acrylics due to their quick-dry quality means that light over dark is not as crucial.”

More than 150 years since the start of the Impressionism movement in France, the technique developed by artists like Claude Monet remains a popular means of rendering light with paint.

Champion’s latest exhibition includes landscapes of the New England region, with riverside and roadside scenes, and a variety of seascapes.

“I paint both landscape and seascape and in an impressionistic way of quick, short brush marks as this helps me fracture the image on the canvas to get the effects of my title ‘Let the Sun Shine’,” Champion said.

Let the Sun Shine opens on Saturday June 18 from 3pm and runs until Saturday August 27 at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes. A selection of works is available for purchase online.

FRACTURED LIGHT ‘Windy Day at North Head’ by Peter Champion