Two NEA studio holders who have contributed an enormous amount to North East Artisans, Seamus Foley and Cornelia, not so long ago made the decision to move on, to focus on their lives and creative endeavours in the places they have come to call home, for Seamus Briagalong in Gippsland near Sale, for Cornelia Albury/Wodonga,
Seamus quietly became a strong and highly valued presence at NEA, serving on the Committee of Management, including a period as President. Seamus gradually revealed a diverse creative 'portfolio', with music, instrument making, poetry and wood craft featuring during his time at NEA.
Seamus became involved with NEA during his transition to retirement. He began working in a studio upstairs, providing a space for him to work on projects he had wanted to do for many years. He participated in the Door of Hope project in 2017, carving Celtic pendants which he incorporated into necklaces and exhibited on the 'Raggedy Tree' he carved for The Door of Hope exhibition. We became accustomed to him whittling as he sat in the foyer, started to hear him quietly singing Irish folk songs as he went about his business. His gradual linking up with others interested in wood became more serious when he moved his studio to Tim Schloss's wood working studio downstairs, setting it up as his own, Seamus's interest in making musical instruments and in sharing his love of working with wood with others was evident for all who entered, usually to a warm Irish welcome. We would hear Seamus playing his violin in his studio and on Tuesday evenings, if we were in the building, listen in to the Irish music sessions he instigated in the foyer cafe on a Tuesday night, mentoring local musicians while enjoying keeping his skills up..
Seamus inspired the Winter Solstice Poetry Evening held at NEA in June 2018, followed up by a spring equinox session later in the year. His poetry performances were absorbing and truly memorable, delighting all and inspiring aspiring poets who he then mentored and supported. Seamus was delighted to receive an award at the Benalla Bush Poetry sessions in 2018, and recognition for his poetry performances at his beloved poetry week at Koroit in January this year. Seamus even became a prize winning artisan while at NEA, winning both first and third places for his woodcarvings in the People's Choice award in the 'Wisdom and Experience' exhibition at NEA in October 2018.
Seamus, we have truly enjoyed watching your creative spirit flourish while at NEA and know that NEA's loss is Briagalong's gain!
Cornelia was an early if not founding member of North East Artisans. A prolific artist working in genres from painting, graphic design and sculpture to ceramics, rugs and more, Cornelia has been a strong, 'whirlwind' like presence at NEA, whether fulfilling her insatiable appetite for working on her art; curating and marketing memorable exhibitions or working on the accounts with her finance team leader hat on.
Visits to Cornelia's large, sunny upstairs artist's studio were memorable, yet signs of her gradual departure were imminent when she downsized to a smaller studio after establishing her home studio in Albury. We were intrigued by her art, by the impact that having directly experienced the Kinglake bushfires may have had on it. We watched, fascinated, as her 'Crunque' saga developed and featured in her sculptures, jewellery, repurposed crockery and ceramics, as well as in her paintings. We will never forget Corn working towards installation of her Crunque sculpture in the forecourt of 'The Shed' next to NEA, the day Shaun Murphy helped her to get it into position.. Cornelia's inspiration and efforts towards the two exhibitions 'The Rite of Spring' (1916) and 'In Your Face' (1917) were awe inspiring, including her capacity to develop beautiful graphic designs for accompanying posters and pamphlets.. We would like to thank Cornelia for her creative/graphic design support for many NEA exhibitions.
We have laughed with Cornelia and cried with her as at times 'life got in the way' of her art. We have been thrilled to see her gain the recognition she deserves, with work exhibited in at the Dax Gallery in Melbourne, both in solo and group shows; her individual show in MAMA in Albury last year; with work entered in the Archibald accepted for Melbourne's esteemed 'Salon de Refuse'. We shared her joy recently on hearing that her 'Woman giving birth in the presence of a horse (2017) sculpture had been acquired for MAMA's permanent collection.
Cornelia's presence at NEA has been a very powerful one in so many ways and we would like to honor and celebrate it. We are following Cornelia's creative journey via social media as she continues to work in clay, prepares her entry for next year's Archibald Prize and launches her clothing company. .
An Occasional B:Log
The Source exhibition at NEA, held to support The Source Festival in March 2019, probably 'flew under the radar' as far as NEA exhibitions go. It was it its final days and photos needed to be taken! In the manner of artist Peter Tyndall's 'Theatre of the Actors of Regard', Seamus Foley thoughtfully considered the works of Julie Burdis, Annie Longmuir, Charlie Corser and Valerie Clements, and others for this last minute photo shoot!
"NEA began four years ago as an idea; to support the arts in Benalla and surrounding areas. This idea was to take the form of a pop-up shop which opened its doors in the three weeks prior to Christmas 2014, to provide an opportunity for local artists to sell their work in that pre-Christmas period. In the four years since then, NEA continues to exist and even flourish. It has by now established its credentials and has become part of the art landscape of the North East.
In those four years there have been many changes, amongst the most significant being, a move to new premises, and an increase in member numbers. Since most of the original management committee have stepped down or moved on, this has meant that many of the people whose “idea” got NEA off the ground in the first place are no longer involved in carrying it forward.
For the current management team, this in itself has presented challenges, around finding the best way forward as well as dealing with the various opportunities and the often-accompanying difficulties in taking advantage of them. During the past year we have had a number of members of the executive step down for a variety of reasons, all of them valid. A factor which has become evident is the reality of “burnout” as people find themselves snowed under by the workload of keeping what has become a rather large though friendly beast, running on an even keel.
Into the future if NEA is to survive it will require more involvement by more of its members in order to spread the load. A strong executive will be necessary, as will a paid manager.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed, in whatever way, to the running of NEA in the past year. people who have supported us by their encouragement and appreciation of what we do, have helped make art and creativity an important part of the richness and variety that is life in the North east.
Thanking individuals in a situation like this would inevitably lead to omissions. However, one person I would like to thank personally is Meralyn Vincent. Meralyn took on the role of treasurer during the year in spite of failing health, acquitting it with diligence, competence and a wicked sense of humour. She finally handed in the books only a couple of weeks ago when she no longer had the strength to continue. Meralyn is currently in hospital. Thank you for your contribution Meralyn your beautiful smile and your courage.
NEA's President (and resident poet) Seamus Foley, in welcoming people to the the 'Wisdom and Experience' exhibition in Gallery 2 at NEA, drew upon the poem 'When You Are Old' by William Butler Yeats.
When You Are Old
William Butler Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)
Photographs - Beverley Lee (NEA) and Jan Osmotherly,(c/Age Friendly Benalla Project)
Due to the popular response of the
Winter Solstice Premiere Tea and Poetry night
we'd like to invite you to our next
SPRING POETRY CELEBRATION
Friday, September 28th 7pm - 9pm
All ages and all levels of experience welcome!
We kindly ask for a gold coin/pinkie donation
to cover the costs of heating, lights etc.
As always we hope to provide a welcoming, inclusive, creative and comfortable atmosphere!
Hope to see you there. there.
'Armchair Poets' - a drop in session for poets and poetry lovers is held at NEA on the 4th Sunday in the months between the solstice/equinox events. This is not a performance poetry session, but a chance to sit around with other poets and poetry lovers to share, workshop or just talk about poetry. 2 to 4pm in Gallery 2.
'Winter Retrospective' - Jamie Ferguson & Michaela Alexander - July 2018
The beginning of winter saw Jamie and Michaela conceiving the stunning 'What's On' notice board on the stairwell wall in the foyer entrance which is full of NEA happenings.
The winter solstice poetry evening inspired and organised by Seamus is now a treasured memory of those who attended, Follow up sessions for practicing poets are now planned on the last Sunday of the month between 2 and 4pm . Poetry evenings to celebrate the solstices, perhaps even an equinox or two, will provide a further chance for poets to read and perform their work..
Seamus has continued facilitate sessions with Irish music playing friends in the NEA foyer throughout the winter. He has also introduced sessions in wood carving and whittling to the obvious enjoyment of woodworking friends and keen woodworkers with ties to NEA.
Janet Douglas and the U3A Recorder Group began meeting fortnightly in Gallery 2 on Wednesday mornings in June. Some of the group always stay behind for a warming drink in the Red Road Cafe! .
NEA's committee of management continues to work to master systems and can often be found problem solving about matters of governance and administration. The MYOB system is now in place with Joan from 'A Balancing Act' providing highly valued bookkeeping services and consultancy.. With space finally in the volunteer artisans calendars to schedule Point of Sale training, training in the Point of Sale system, purchased with a grant, has been provided to responsible committee members. Training is now rolling out to volunteers in the gallery/shop and will soon be fully operative.
With Winter a wonderful time to knit and crochet, throughout the winter months activities including the International Sit and Knit day celebrated by Annie and friends in Gallery 2.; preparations for Benalla's winter yarn bomb event 'Benalla Rugged Up'; baskets with wool and pieces being collected for the yarn bomb and our own come and try knitting needles and wool were the order of the day.
NEA's Gallery Shop began opening 7 days a week in June as did the Red Road Cafe. Operating something like a cooperative within a cooperative, Tim B, Ruth M, Sam and Lauren are sharing the daily operation of the cafe. As a general rule, Tim puts on his barrista hat on Saturday mornings, Ruth is barrista on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays (Ruth's hot and spicy pumpkin soup with toast is popular on a cold wintry day), while Lauren and Sam are 'mine hosts' from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday...
Felting workshops somehow have a good 'fit' in' winter - Annie has presented a number of felting workshops in June. Sally's Introduction to Jewellery making workshop continues to meet regularly, with Seamus and other NEA volunteers often found in the class learning new skills to introduce into their work..
There have been some wonderful Gallery Gigs, with NEA volunteers supporting Michaela as she applies her musical knowledge and instincts, passion and energy to providing opportunities for singer/songwriters to perform in an intimate and appreciative setting in Gallery 2 on a regular basis.
It was also Plastic Free July - a self portrait by NEA' artist Janet Leith 'A Sense of a Special Place'' featured on our home page throughout July. Janet's painting was displayed as part of GANEAA's 'Plastic Free July' inspired exhibition 'It's In the Bag' 3 to 31 July at Bainz Gallery in the foyer of the Wangaratta Library.
During Plastic Free July we shared a captivating video by Wangaratta's Luke Davies and his Recycled String Band 'Recycle and Reuse' on Facebook. Luke featured on blues harp and vocals in a set or two with Scott Cooke and Corin Raymond in a Gallery Gig in April. Thanks for writing this great song, Luke!
There is likely to be more to report on than this, particularly as there's another month to go, but hopefully you'll catch up with this in the Newsletter, Instagram or Facebook!
An occasional BLog.
Due to the popular response of the recent Premiere Tea and Poetry night, we'd like to announce regular Poetry Get-Togethers, commencing this Sunday 29th of July at 2 pm and then every fourth Sunday of the month (same time, same place...subject to change depending on other events and workshops). All ages and all levels of experience welcome! We kindly ask for a gold coin donation to cover the costs of heating, lights etc. As always, we aim to provide a welcoming, inclusive, creative and comfortable atmosphere! Hope to see you there : )
Contact person at NEA - Seamus Foley
Check out the photos from the Winter Solstice Poetry Reading!
Come and be a part of the PREMIERE poetry event at North East Artisans in Benalla to mark the Winter solstice.
Bring along your own poetic creations or the work of your favourite poets.
The focus of the night is to provide a forum where people can let loose their creativity and perform/recite in a supportive friendly environment.
There will be an opportunity to write a Limerick or Haiku on the night.
Admission by gold coin (or pinkie) donation, (to cover heating and lighting).
Tea, chai and hot chocolate will be served.
If you can, please bring a small plate of bikkies or home baking to share.
Enquiries - Seamus 0418 540 156
Annie Longmuir's knitting and crochet class at NEA on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7.30pm ($8 including coffee, tea) is a rallying point for Benalla's Winter Yarn Bomb - Annie can help to work out suitable patterns, show you how to knit or crochet flowers to decorate the plainer strips and squares and more.
Community members can also add to some knitted coloured strips while enjoying a coffee or chai at the Red Road Cafe. Cornelia Selover and Mary Kennedy joined in while on the volunteer roster during the week. The fact that knitting is supposed to be therapeutic seems to be true - they both look so calm in the photos below. .
You might also find someone to give you a lesson at NEA if you can't knit, as Seamus did this week. He proved to be a fast learner, taking on board Bev's grandmother's memory jogger 'In, Over, Through and Off'! with aplomb. He also looks quite serene, don't you think...
Annie and other NEA artisans, volunteers and friends are also involved in the Benalla Winter Yarn Bomb event's planning group which met on Friday 25th May at NEA, We'll continue to share news of their progress on our website.
Finally... North East Artisans is one of a number of venues at which knitted, crocheted other suitable textile work or balls of yarn can be left to feed into the late winter 'yarn bombing' of Benalla! Here's a link to a downloadable pdf flier for the event.
An occasional BLog...
The Lost Trades Fair in Kyneton is coming up on the Labour Day weekend. This is a key event in the calendar for Schloss - Good Ol' Toys and Collectables. Tim Schloss's unique wooden toys and quirky collectables are all handcrafted, with nearly all made from recycled or salvaged wood.. They are eco-friendly and great for the imagination., Tim, a founding member and past President of NEA, exhibits work in the NEA gallery; regularly participates in "Meet the Maker' events and offers workshops such as the 'Personalise Your Own Sword' workshop being offered at 'Lost Trades' and the successful 'Billy Goat Stool making workshop held at NEA in January 2017.
A number of other North East Artisan members also work in wood using traditional methods.
Garth Mitchell, whose walking sticks can be purchased at NEA, commenced the time consuming process of making hand made bespoke walking sticks 15 years ago after becoming a collector of walking sticks.. Garth searched the ‘net’ to find out more about the design, structure, materials, styles, etc of walking sticks. "Although little was available in Australia, I found that stick dressing was a very popular pastime in the United Kingdom, with many sites dedicated to product, technique, style, and so on. With that I was hooked!”
Garth, who now belongs to a stick making guild in the UK, cuts and shapes the sticks by hand, using rasps, planes and spokeshaves. Mastering joints and polishing requires patience and skill. Garth prefers to use Australian timber and to contrast shank and handle. "Handle styles are generally the traditional English styles - Cardigan, Derby, Crutch and Crook, and, to be somewhat technical, in most cases I admit to a horn or timber spacer over a reinforced tenon joint”.
Seamus Foley, also a musician and poet, can often be found at NEA whittling objects which he is now incorporating into jewellery. Seamus uses traditional methods in pursuing his love of musical instrument making, restoration and repair in his open studio at NEA.
Chris Seeley's love of rare and recycled woods and traditional joinery methods is evident in the beautiful tables, trays and other objects made in his Butter Factory workshop in Swanpool and on sale at NEA. Chris is a master craftsman of fine furniture. From old salvaged timbers Chris creates wonderful new pieces using traditional methods of joinery.
Schloss - Good Ol' Toys and Collectibles followers can see Tim's work and enrol in 'Personalise Your Own Sword' workshops at the Lost Trades Fair at the Kyneton Racecourse from 10 am Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11. .
"Craftsmanship, skill, tradition, forgotten arts and rare trades. Find authenticity, meet the makers - if you love bespoke, handcrafted, artisan trades and skills - do not miss this event. Incredible makers practising their trades; coopers to carriage builders, silversmiths to stonemasons, glass blowers to gunsmiths, over 100 makers at the biggest gathering of traditional tradesmen and women in the country. Be inspired by the 'art of handmade'."
The work of artisans Tim Schloss, Garth Mitchell and Chris Seeley can be viewed and purchased at North East Artisans. Seamus Foley has an open studio at NEA.
Occasional blog by BL
January 21, 2018
Wall to Wall Benalla Festival
Benalla Street Art Map to 2017
Juddy Roller Wall to Wall
Benalla Art Gallery
Shepparton Art Museum
Wangaratta Art Gallery
Benalla Camera Club
Broken River Potters
Broken River Painters
Broken River Writers
Wots4Me Benalla Youth
Art Gallery on Ovens
Bush Gatherings -Violet Town
GANEAA (Goulburn and North East Arts Alliance)