Tag Archives: The Makers Shed

‘Solstice’ shines a new light on summer

“In this exhibition I hope to share a lighthearted and fresh perspective on the familiar.” 
Cecilia Smith

A TRIO of painters feature in the latest exhibition at New England’s arts marketplace The Makers Shed, Glen Innes. Showing until the end of January, 2021, ‘Solstice’ includes new works by Peter Champion, Marianne la Cour and Cecilia Smith, offering a range of styles and genres to art lovers across the region.

Inverell’s Peter Champion is an award-winning New England landscape painter and his return to Glen Innes is a welcome one, considering his popular exhibition at the town’s gallery was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peter confesses to be obsessed with capturing the elements at work in the range of land- and sea-scapes completed for ‘Solstice’, including ‘Moonrise’ (pictured above).

“My interests often are to do with the effects of light, the time of day, the season and also the effect of the wind particularly on water,” he said.

“The works in this exhibition are all oil on canvas and reflect what I see that makes me take notice, the many variables that occur.

“Then my approaches can be somewhat different, although I do tend to use broken colour to relate the actual atmosphere to the paintings.”

Belonging

MAKING MARKS: ‘Looking East I’ (acrylic on canvas by Marianne la Cour)

Glen Innes-based artist Marianne la Cour was inspired by the New England highlands in the series of watercolours and mixed-media works she is exhibiting in ‘Solstice’, painted during this challenging year of extremes.

“The aftermath of the bushfires and drought is still etched into my mind,” she said.

“Every morning when I look out at all the greenness of the present landscape, I reflect and try to understand. My practice is about place – a sense of place, a connection to place and the feeling of belonging to a place. 

“As a painter, I work by mark making, using movement and form and by layering of colour. I quite often incorporate texture into my paintings, and often paint a canvas over and over again. 

“I love colours and I create colour combinations as reference to places and emotions.”

Domestic twist

FRIDGE FAMILIAR: ‘Tree of Life’ (oil on canvas by Cecilia Smith)

Central Coast-based artist Cecilia Smith travelled to the New England region this year in search of her family’s origins around Kelly’s Plains and Tenterfield. ‘Solstice’ marks her group show debut after painting portraits and landscapes. For this exhibition she has illustrated a series of domestic scenes with a twist.

“My recent work reflects the interest I have in the relationship that exists between humans and their environment on a domestic level,” she said. 

“In particular, I am fascinated by the dependency we have on the myriad items in our homes, and the membrane that seems to inevitably grow over one’s consciousness in our perception of these. 

“The irony is, that without all of this ‘stuff’ which forms such a huge part of our lives – from basics like fresh food, to common household objects – we would suffer and perhaps feel a momentously primitive insecurity. 

“The problem of plastic is growing, and it slips under our personal radars on a daily basis. In this exhibition I hope to share a lighthearted and fresh perspective on the familiar.”

Solstice: new works by Peter Champion, Marianne la Cour and Cecilia Smith, showing at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes, Wednesdays to Saturdays until January 30, 2021. Selected works also available for purchase online.

(Another) year of independent reading

WHILE the world has been distracted by a pressing pandemic, a small group of readers in the northern NSW New England region committed to reading and discussing a range of independently-published books, and now they’re getting ready to announce the pick of the crop.

Trophy handmade by Richard Moon

This is the second year the High Country Book Club based in Glen Innes has awarded a literary prize. Across 2019 we read a broad range of titles published by readers in three continents and gave our first gong to Lady Bird & The Fox by Australian author Kim Kelly.

In 2020, our pool of choices was extended from indie authors to the publications produced by independent presses, those that don’t have huge marketing machines behind them and could do with a boost. Since we’re based at The Makers Shed, a destination for handmade, skill-sharing and artisanal products, our focus on indie titles is apt.

Our reading year kicked off with Jo-Ann Capp’s Four Hot Chips (published by Boogie Books). The true story of one family’s childhood cancer journey, this is a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting short read, exploring relationship dynamics when loved ones are under pressure.

We continued with The Worst Country in the World by London-based Patsy Trench, which documents the author’s search for the reasons her ancestress Mary Pitt migrated from Dorset to New South Wales in 1801. Replete with fictionalised scenes where history remains undiscovered, this book is an eye-opener about colonial Australia.

In Hide (published by MidnightSun) we ventured into fiction. Penned by South Australian author S. J. Morgan, this thriller took us on a wild journey from Thatcher’s Britain to the Australian outback, via a chilling look into international bikie culture.

Staying with fiction, we read Kim Kelly’s Walking. Partly based on true events, this novel explores the world of orthopaedic surgery in the first half of the 20th century, through the eyes and experiences of patients, practitioners and their loves, lives and hopes.

You Had Me At Hola by Leigh Robshaw took us on a true-life South American odyssey, recreating the author’s 1990s adventures to find her heart’s desire in foreign lands. Scenes from this title are still regularly talked about in book club meetings months later!

We were visited by Yumna Kassab to kick off the second annual High Country Writers Festival with a discussion about her short fiction debut The House of Youssef (published by Giramondo). This acclaimed collection sheds light on lives in the Lebanese-Australian community.

Mary Garden’s Sundowner of the Skies (published by New Holland) was an external and internal adventure, documenting the 1920s England-to-Australia flight of Mary’s father Oscar Garden, and exploring what high achievers do when they give up their wings.

To complete the year, we read Hayley Katzen’s debut memoir Untethered (published by Ventura Press) and were delighted Hayley could join us for another writer’s festival session to chat about her search for a sense of belonging from academia to farm life in the Clarence Valley.

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 2020… we’ve been uplifted, challenged, thrilled, frightened, moved, angered, entertained and encouraged to keep reading by your engaging works of fiction and non-fiction.

The winner of the High Country Indie Book Award 2020 will be announced during the High Country Writers Retreat on Saturday October 24. Bookings essential! Join the High Country Book Club by attending The Makers Shed on the third Saturday of every month from 10am-12pm.

Perseverance key to Powell’s pottery

THE natural environment of the New England region, and the mindfulness of daily work in the clay studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, were influential in a collection of new ceramic work by artist Max Powell of Glen Innes.

The exhibition ‘FormWork’ will fill The Makers Shed with an array of pieces throughout spring.

According to Max, daily practice and perseverance were key to this prolific period of creativity.

CERAMIC CURVES: New works by Glen Innes potter Max Powell

“I came to ceramics through art making and fell in love with the endless possibilities of this elemental and enduring material,” he says.

“There is always the element of the unexpected and surprise that keeps me asking ‘what next?’ Clay has become an obsession and a daily necessity as I explore different pathways and grow ideas.

“Spending time in the workshop honing skills and focusing on the evolving processes keeps me in the moment engaging body and mind in a holistic way that has kept me anchored through these turbulent times. 

“The perseverance we need today is a basic tool for the potter.”

Inspiration also comes from spending time in the bush observing the shapes, colours and surfaces found in nature, Max says.

“As well as the making processes involved in transforming this most basic elemental plastic material into expressive form.

“I like the end product to reveal the honesty of the materials by leaving some exposed clay body on show, along with the effects created by the alchemy of multiply firings building up different glaze layers.”

A range of large ‘water bowls’ that can be used outdoors as bird baths, and a selection of vases and platters will be on offer, but also a range of large-scale works that will form a unique centrepiece to any indoor design.

“Besides producing useful objects, clay can sometimes result in ceramic work that can satisfy not only the maker but also engages others and adds richness to their daily rituals,” Max says.

FINE FORM: Max Powell’s new exhibition runs until November 28 at Glen Innes

Beyond the surface

A graduate of the National Arts School, East Sydney Technical College, and Monash University, Max Powell came to ceramics through the art of glazing.

“Painting the surface has always been my focus and with these new works I have tried to develop stronger forms that compliment the surface but still make their own statement,” he says.

A Glen Innes-based secondary and TAFE art teacher, he has a longstanding reputation for high standards of artistic practice in the region.

“I love the sense of community,” he says, “and the open landscape that lets you escape to the nearby majestic national parks. I love the seasonal changes that shape our lives”.

“Inspiration is everywhere: moss, lichen, a rock, a piece of wood, the landscape and the rich history of ceramics and the many stories that get mixed into the clay.”

Powell cites artists like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Lloyd Rees, Elizabeth Cummings and Angus Nivison as influences throughout his career, which started in arts education but quickly moved on to public art commissions and exhibitions throughout the New England region.

“I feel privileged that I have been able to spend my time making art, responding to the world around and engaging with like-minded people,” he says.

FormWork runs until November 28 at The Makers Shed, 123 Grey Street Glen Innes