Hearts and hands

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

IN many ways, it can of­ten seem like our lives are dom­i­nated by mass pro­duced items or dig­i­tal, vir­tual clut­ter.

But once you take the time to look, you can find spa­ces where time hon­oured ar­ti­sanal skills are still val­ued and nur­tured.

One of the places where a range of the re­gion’s ar­ti­sans and artists have been drawn to is the North East Ar­ti­sans (NEA).

The group be­gan in 2014 as a pop-up shop for Christ­mas, but by Jan­uary 2015 a com­mit­tee was formed and now the NEA pro­vides a sup­port net­work, ex­po­sure and dis­play space for many ar­ti­sans across the re­gion, as well as op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to at­tend workshops and classes.

While it is based in Be­nalla, NEA has mem­bers across the North East.

“One of the things that has been quite won­der­ful since start­ing NEA, is the com­mu­nity that has been born,” said NEA’s Ruth Schloss.

“Many of our ar­ti­sans didn’t know each other be­fore we started and now there are friend­ships where peo­ple sup­port and en­cour­age one another in their cre­ative pur­suits.

“It’s been an amaz­ing ad­ven­ture over the last two years and we owe the con­tin­ued suc­cess to all the vol­un­teers who put in many hours in many ways.”

Beech­worth based glass artist Leisa Clarke is among the lo­cal mem­bers of the group.

She has been cre­at­ing art with glass for over 15 years – first with lead­light­ing, then cre­at­ing art purely with glass.

She makes a range of dif­fer­ent pieces in her stu­dio us­ing var­i­ous glass art tech­niques, rang­ing from plates and beads to in­tri­cately crafted pic­ture pieces.

“When you’re do­ing glass, it’s what­ever takes your fancy,” Lisa said of her work.

“It’s been re­ally re­ward­ing. “With glass, it has a mood, and it changes, de­pend­ing on the light.”

She said she has found much com­mu­nity and en­cour­age­ment from be­ing in­volved with NEA, adding that it has even helped peo­ple with health is­sues find a cre­ative and so­cial out­let.

“It ticks a lot of boxes,” Leisa said. “The North East has got an amaz­ing range of very skilled and ca­pa­ble artists, who don’t al­ways have an out­let.

“It’s nice to be able to go out and talk to peo­ple who un­der­stand where you’re com­ing from.”

Hail­ing from Glen­rowan, Lise Darcy is a long es­tab­lished felt artist who sources all her fi­bres lo­cally and works with a range of fi­bres, in­clud­ing wool, silks, yarns, mo­hair curls and more to cre­ate ev­ery­thing from bags to clothes, tea cosies and slip­pers.

For her, the essence of her work is the joy she takes in com­bin­ing the dif­fer­ent fi­bres to cre­ate a unique, hand­made ob­ject.

“Each piece turns out dif­fer­ent, it’s in­cred­i­ble,” she said.

“It’s keep­ing some of the old arts alive for the next gen­er­a­tion.

“It’s just won­der­ful to see hand­made ar­ti­cles.”

She said she learned a lot from fel­low mem­bers of the NEA com­mu­nity.

“We all learn from each other,” she said.

The NEA has many plans for the fu­ture, in­clud­ing run­ning workshops and events dur­ing the 2017 World Glider Cham­pi­onship, par­tic­i­pat­ing in the 2017 Wall to Wall Street Art Fes­ti­val, and en­cour­ag­ing the artis­tic skills of a mixed group of both young and old peo­ple who are so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged in their up­com­ing “Door of Hope” project, just to name a few.

More in­for­ma­tion on NEA is avail­able on www.north­eas­t­ar­ti­sans.org/ or on the group’s Face­book page.

PHOTO: Wendy Stephens

ART OF GLASS: Leisa Clarke, a glass artist from Beech­worth, en­joys be­ing in­volved with North East Ar­ti­sans.

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

FI­BRE FUN: Glen­rowan felt artist Lise Darcy loves work­ing with tex­tiles.

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