Hearts and hands
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.
ART OF GLASS: Leisa Clarke, a glass artist from Beechworth, enjoys being involved with North East Artisans.
FIBRE FUN: Glenrowan felt artist Lise Darcy loves working with textiles.