Tag Archives: The Makers Shed

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

“I think I always was an artist, it just took a long time for ‘it’ to flourish.”

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 Kirkeby, Maja 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.

The year of independent reading

Wonderful things happen when you open a bookshop. Ours started as a single set of shelves in one corner of the studio-gallery my husband and I created, The Makers Shed at Glen Innes in the NSW New England region. A year on, we’ve expanded, and we’re about to present our first literary award.

But it didn’t just happen by accident. Our resident High Country Book Club courageously joined us on a reading project with a purpose: to decide the best book in a year’s worth of independently-published reads.

When we started out, Richard and I found ourselves explaining a lot about indie books, but these days we barely mention that these titles have not been backed by a traditional publishing/marketing team. This is mainly because what readers want out of a book is the same thing no matter where it sprang from, and that’s a well-told story.

The club kicked off with a visit from London-based author Patsy Trench, who’d come to chat about her new non-fiction title A Country To Be Reckoned With.

This title is Patsy’s search for her great-great grandfather George Matcham Pitt, one of Australia’s earliest stock and station agents. The journey of discovery sheds an engaging new light on the European heritage of Australia.

We moved onto fiction for our next read. New Zealander Jenni Ogden’s acclaimed debut novel A Drop in the Ocean is set predominantly on an island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s the story of an high-achieving American academic who hits rock bottom and decides to relocate to the other side of the world to work at a remote turtle sanctuary. It took me by surprise with its memorable castaways working out their lives on the edge of an ocean wilderness.

The ocean was a major theme of our next title, Nothing But Blue, by American author Diane Meyer Lowman.

The true story of her adventure while working on a German container ship as it sailed from New York to Australia and New Zealand in the late Seventies, this book bravely recreated the perspective of a 19-year-old thrust into several alien environments.

Nothing But Blue and A Drop in the Ocean were published by She Writes Press, one of the world’s biggest joint-venture publishing outfits assisting women to get their manuscripts published.

Australian author Kim Kelly paid us a visit in March to chat about her novel Lady Bird & The Fox and explained how creating the Indigenous protagonist of her book – Annie Bird – also encouraged her to courageously self-publish. After having her first few works published traditionally, Kim sensed her Gold Rush heroine might have languished while waiting for a publisher with enough courage in this #OwnVoices world.

The true story of a beloved dog who endured a spinal stroke was our next read. Nobody Told Me My Legs Don’t Work is a memoir with a difference by American writer Travis C. Yates.

A short but emotional ride, this publication sparked plenty of debate about animal rights and the ethics of domestic animal ownership.

Infants of the Brush by A. M. Watson is an historical fiction that recreates a real-life Eighteenth Century legal case and the gritty, challenging world of the boy chimney sweeps of London.

Amy kindly made us a video outlining the broad research she conducted which underpins the historical accuracy in her novel.

Euan Mitchell’s Feral Tracks brought us all back home with an Australian story about a teenager who leaves homes with a few dollars and some big issues to sort out on the road, as he hitchhikes across the country in search of purpose.

One of Australia’s most enduring self-published titles, this work was a confronting study of manhood in some tough Aussie environments.

English author William Blyghton provided plenty of contrast in his debut novel The House By The Marsh, which is also a study of manhood, but in a very different environment.

A story of grief late in life, this tale of human connection is set in several corners of evocative East Anglia, a county that we discovered was the birthplace of many novels, from works by Patricia Highsmith to Janet Frame.

We stayed in England for our read of Virginia Moffatt’s Echo Hall, a work of historical fiction set across multiple time periods in and around the same imposing home in another remote county of the United Kingdom.

With its ruminations on war and pacifism, Virginia’s intriguing, layered work explores the motivations of several families and their experiences of conflict, both domestic and between nations.

One of our country’s great marriage equality campaigners penned our next read, a very Australian read about human rights.

Shelley Argent’s memoir Just A Mum tells the story of her Brisbane upbringing and explores how this suburban wife and mother became an equality activist in the wake of one son’s coming out, and pushed this necessary social reform all the way to the gripping finale in Australia’s Parliament House.

We ended the year reading The Moor by English author Sam Haysom, a mystery story replete with characters facing enormous moral choices in and around a deceivingly simple wilderness walk.

Another intriguing debut novel, Sam’s book was created during 2015’s NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month), and published through Unbound. This crowdfunding publisher assists writers in bringing their ideas into life in book form, and is also the stable that Echo Hall sprang from.

All High Country Book Club titles are available for purchase from The Makers Shed, and can be posted to readers within Australia. Browse our online bookshop.

Congratulations to all the finalists in 2019… we’ve been thrilled, frightened, inspired, moved, angered, entertained and encouraged to keep reading by your engaging works of fiction and non-fiction.

Trophy handmade by Richard Moon.

The winner of the High Country Indie Book Award 2019 will be announced during the High Country Writers Festival on Saturday November 30, from 4 to 6pm at The Makers Shed, Glen Innes, NSW, Australia. All welcome!