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
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)