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Hebel: look what we made!

By | Art, Lifestyle

I am extremely pleased to tell you all that, yes, the hebel carving workshop did happen this past Saturday. Even better, my unfinished piece from two years ago was found, supporting one of Fee’s plants in the back garden. I have to admit, there was dancing and I had a lot of trouble sleeping Friday night. And not very much sleeping the night before, the anticipation was on a level equivalent to Christmas Eve for a child. I was not disappointed.

Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside, carving sculptures.

Not too hot, but also not cold and wet like my last hebel carving workshop. We were a small group. Four participants, Geno as my support worker and of course Andrew to show us what needed to be done. There was a lot of laughter as well as a lot of creating. And nobody went home clean. We were all covered in hebel dust and in some cases wet from being hosed down instead of the sculptures.

I remembered how much fun I’d had last time. How could it be anything but fun. I got to play with a drill, with saws and hammers and chisels. There was also a tool to shape and smooth that does have a technical  name, but will forever be know as a cheese grater to myself and my fellow creaters.

Out of the various sized blocks, emerged a couple of lizards, a Heart and yin yang symbols and a wombat. Yes that’s right, I know have a wombat living just outside my back door. He happily holds a daisy plant on his back. Rupert (what else would you call a wombat), isn’t quite finished yet, he needs his head shaped a bit more and eyes etc. And his legs need defining, but I can do all of that from home.

We all went home, happy and dirty and tired.

If you ever get the chance to take one of Andrew’s workshops, you would be crazy to turn it down.

Enjoy the photos taken on the day. As soon as Rupert is completed, I’ll make sure to share more pictures. Happy creating everyone.

-Sam Ogilvie

Sea, Space and Beyond

By | Art, Disability

If you find yourself with time on your hands this month, go check out an art exhibition at Newcastle museum. I’m not suggesting this because I have work in this exhibition. I suggest it because it’s not your typical art exhibition. This show is the collaboration of The Newcastle City Council and Vision Australia.

The theme of the exhibition is “Sea, Space and Beyond” and has inspired some incredible art pieces. At the door of the room containing the main body of work, you will find a ocean reef and all kinds of sea creatures.

What makes this, and the other works in the show so interesting is that all of the works are tactile and can be touched.

This reef, for example, has been created by a group in Dungog and is made from knitting. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt such an amazing work in wool.

At the far end of the display,you will find another fantastic piece. The artist has created sea creatures and a whole underwater scene. All made out of plastic bottles that she has meticulously cut and suspended inside a wooden crate. What I love about this piece by Natasha Wilson, is her intend for using the plastic bottles. She seeks to remind and teach us what the consequences on our environment are. How we are killing other sea creatures that we can’t necessarily see, thus being easy to forget. Another piece was made by applying paint with the tip of a white cane.

It was so incredible being able to interact and actually see the art works for myself. Being able to read the description of each piece myself, because they are all in braille.

The most unique piece in the exhibition is a huge sheep, with a iced doughnut sitting on its back. The whole thing made of recycled metal that has been welded together. If you go to see anything, it has to be this sheep. It would have to be one of the strangest and most interesting sculptures I’ve ever seen.

The show is open until 21 March. There’s no cost, you just need to sign in and head on in. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it. Oh and I hope you like my pieces too.

-Sam Olgilvie

Fear and Empowerment

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

Ask any of my family or friends, and they will tell you that I have been petrified of snakes all my life. I’ve suffered with nightmares about snakes since I was around four.

A few months ago, Art Mania started a regular group art session at the Hunter Wetlands. I am a regular member of this group, and on learning that among the other wild-life, they have snakes, made me start to consider the possibility that I could overcome my fear, if I just touched a snake. A snake who is used to being man handled, and woman and child handled. The more I thought of the idea, the more I came to believe that it could help. All of these thoughts were just that, thoughts. An exercise in positive thought and creative possibilities. I don’t believe I actually intended to touch a snake. Rather, I did not at any stage believe that I would go through with the event if it ever occurred.

So given all of the above, imagine my own surprise when, around ten days before Christmas, I found myself touching a snake. I had to get pictures, because I knew nobody would believe me without them. This is what happened and how that encounter changed my life.

I’d arrived at the wetlands one morning and found a woman standing out the front of the entrance holding a snake. As I approached where she was standing, she asked if I would like to touch him. I’d always believed that if and when this moment arrived I would run screaming in the opposite direction. What I actually found myself doing was walking up to them and saying yes. His name is Kenny and he is a Children’s python. This does not mean he prefers to dine on children, but that the scientist who discovered his breed, was named Children. Kenny is eighteen months old and is a metre and a half long and around the circumference of a twenty cent coin.

I knew the belief that snakes are slimy is a myth, but I didn’t expect him to feel so soft. I stroked him with a couple of fingers at first and he allowed me to touch his head. My fear was gone, I was completely in the moment, totally focused on Kenny. His tongue on my skin was like butterfly wings. His skin like satin. Even to the point that on first contact, he felt cold like satin, but soon warmed to the heat of my skin. He moved across my hand and wrapped himself around my wrist a couple of times, just like a bracelet. At one point he was about my wrist with around thirty centimetres hanging upside-down and checking out Aimee. Aimee who stood calmly while Kenny investigated.

I could have stayed there with him forever. The touch of him was like falling into a deep pool of clear and calm water. My heart actually slowed, rather than increasing from fear. Even after he’d been taken away to impress other visitors, I could still feel him around my wrist, feel him gliding along my arm. The most amazing thing was that he broke something open in me. Some blockage I wasn’t even aware of, to my creativity. I knew I had to sculpt him and put that piece into my exhibition at the wetlands in March.

I’ve met him once since that first day. He was brought down to the room where we all create our art, so I could remind myself of what he looked and felt like. This time he slid across my arms, across my shoulders. At one point, his head and upper body was snuggled along my arm, where it formed a hollow against my ribs. He was snuggling, enjoying the warmth of my body.

Kenny the Childrens python lives behind the first viewing window, when you first walk into the entrance of the Wetlands. He’s not easy to find however, because he is nocturnal, but if you’re lucky, he’ll poke his little head out to check out who you are and to make sure he doesn’t miss anything.

Meeting Kenny has been one of the most magical experiences of my life.

I still wouldn’t want to encounter a snake out in the wild, but he has most definitely changed my attitude. Even more incredible, I’ve been told that any time I want to work on my sculpture, one of the snake handlers can bring him down for me. He apparently loves to pose for photos, so will be quite happy being immortalised in art.

I want to say thank you to everyone at the Wetlands Centre for their support. For making it possible for myself and other students to get to know and be up and close with the wildlife.

Being able to create in such a beautiful, positive environment is nourishing my soul and my creativity.

Having the chance to exhibit the resulting work, is something special and I feel honoured to be given this chance.

 

-Sam Ogilvie

Jumping into 2021

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

JUMPING INTO 2021

Welcome to 2021 and a brand new exciting year at Art Mania. Now that the year has started, it’s time to work out where each of us want to be by the end of the year. I know the tradition is to make new years resolutions, the majority of which are abandoned by mid February.

I am not a new years resolution girl. Instead, for all of my adult life, I’ve spent a portion of the last day of each year, writing goals for the coming year. I don’t always finish everything on the list, and I do make alterations and edits throughout the year. I have usually managed to complete at least half of the goals on my list by the end of the year.

This New Year’s, I did things slightly differently to my old ritual. Before I sat down to write my goals for 2021, I sat down and made a list of achievements for 2020 and things that meant a lot to me. The things I’m grateful for.

I thought I’d kick off this year’s series of posts by sharing a few things from each list with you and hope they inspire you all. So let’s get started.

What I’ve achieved and am grateful for:

1. My job at Art Mania and getting to share my journey with you all.

I don’t think any of us will remember 2020 as a great year. Covid has been a major blow from left field, but I think we should be proud that we have survived. I think we should all, as I do, be so incredibly grateful to Fee and the Art Mania team for keeping the studio open and offering a safe haven to create in and catch up with friends. I know that this had a huge impact on me and kept my mental health on the positive side.

Sam is dressed in a white top with pink embroidery. She is standing on the walkway to the Wetlands Centre. A slim, brown-scaled snake is twined around her wrist.

2. Art Mania’s teaming up with the Wetlands Centre.

This year Art Mania started running sessions for our NDIS clients and those who identify as having a disability. We had a room for two days a week for our little group and it was magical. Firstly seeing how some of our newer clients slowly come out of themselves and try different things.

We even got to meet some of the reptiles, a children’s python named Kenny, blue-tongue lizards named Russel and Nudge and a pygmy bearded water dragon. That’s right a baby version of our own Jimmy. And for me, personally, Kenny had the biggest impact upon me. I would never have believed you if you told me I would touch a snake, but I have and it’s been so empowering to overcome a fear.

3. Participating in my first ever exhibition.

Thanks to Castle Personnel’s social media person, Zoe, Art Mania had the chance to showcase the work of our students with disabilities for International Day of Disability. There were five of us and again it was an empowering moment. I knew I could create, but it still gave me that huge boost knowing that people were coming to see my work. I also sold my first piece of art. I don’t know who it was who brought my painting, but if you’re reading this, thank you so very much.

Sam, dressed in an orange top and navy jacket, standing in front of her painting at the exhibition. It is a large canvas, the background is a mix of green, yellow and blue, with large white circles over the top, with yellow and orange circles inside it.

These are my top three and I promise to expand on at least one of these in the next weeks (but you’ll have to keep reading posts to find out which it will be.). So on to the goals for this year.

My Top Three Goals for 2021

1. To become a mentor to other students with a disability who join the Art Mania team.

We have been working on setting up a program for NDIS clients that enables them to come and join the Art Mania family and create art. On top of this, for those who are interested, we are offering a business support program, so we can learn how to set ourselves up and sell our art. And part of all of this, is giving the more established students the chance to support the new ones. I’m so excited and could rave about this program for pages, but I will save that for a future post.

2. To participate in my second exhibition.

In two months, well probably more like six/seven weeks, I am having my work exhibited at the wetlands. This has been one of the great things about the sessions at the wetlands. I love nature and this is the perfect excuse to submerge myself in the natural world and be inspired by it and all the incredible creatures that live there.

3. My third goal is to get out into the world, particularly the natural world with my beautiful girl Aimee.

I know this will give me back the confidence I lost when I lost my boy Roscoe. I also know it will be more inspiration for my art. And I really hope you will all follow my journey and keep reading my posts.

This brings me to one last item I’m grateful for, and that’s all of you who read my posts. It really means a lot to me that you do, and I’m so grateful for all of your support. Please keep reading.

 

 

 

MEET OUR NEW DRAWING TEACHER

By | Art, Lifestyle

A big welcome to our drawing teacher, Gail!

Gail has lived in Wallsend for 30 years with her husband & 5 children.

Gail completed her Fine Arts Diploma at Hunter Street TAFE, graduating from Newcastle University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, then with an Honours degree in 2011.

Her work is inspired by an interest and love for people & community.

Gail works in painting, drawing & textiles. These disciplines often cross over producing interesting hybrid art works of colour, image & stitch.

The essence of Gail’s art practice is acknowledging people’s lives, validating & empathising with their experiences. She finds teaching & exhibiting rewarding as she is able to connect with the community.

 

Gail has exhibited widely, she has shown her art within:

  • John Hunter Arts & Health programs
  • Wallsend Library
  • Watt Space Newcastle
  • Newcastle Art Space
  • Art Systems Wickham
  • Maitland Regional Gallery

Gail believes the world is the richer for the contribution of the creative soul.

She is looking forward to cheering others on to discover their unique voice & mark so that they can confidently express who they are & what they have to say.

NATURE’S SERENADE

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

One of the major themes in my art is the natural world. I’ve used leaves and trees in lino carving that I then printed onto different hand-made papers. Some still feel like the stringy fibres of the trees that they originated from. In my glass work I’ve been using the natural elements of earth, fire, water and air to create pictures using powdered glass. I’m building up quite a collection of clay animals as well.

When I found out I would be having an exhibition of my own, I was of course, very excited. Learning that it would happen at the wetlands was even better. I’d never been there, but I did know about it and everything I heard was positive.

A couple of days ago, I finally got a chance to visit the wetlands for myself. It was the perfect day, sunny but not too hot.

My first impression was one of peace and of the world slowing and taking time to breathe. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin. The various birds sang, intermingling and creating a symphony of joy and life.

As we slowly walked along the paths, the gravel crunched beneath our feet and I could feel the texture through my shoes.

I stopped to feel one of the totem poles scattered around the wetlands. It felt worn smooth over time. Criss-crossed by carvings that read like road signs in a tactile language akin to the braille I read. I could feel my thoughts slowing and images and words drifted through me. They slipped in and out in a meditative manner, not necessary to be held onto or analysed.

I learnt of a bird known as a magpie goose and arrived in time to witness their daily meal. They gathered in a group on the bank where their food had been left. They ate and a couple in particular kept up a gentle honking conversation. As each bird took to the water again, their entry sounded like a gentle wave washing over the shore of a harbour.

Their black and white colouring made them a good contrast with the earth they fed on and so I was able to make them out. They were bouncing balls of contrast to my eyes.

We ended up sitting by another pond along the sensory trail. The seat we sat upon was in the sun, while in front of us, the ground was dappled with sun and shade. As we sat quietly sketching and writing, magpies strutted back and forward in the space before us. The only thing making it possible to make their existence out, was their movement. The shifting of something before me.

I found myself sketching the trunk of an old tree. It had pieces of bark, some as large as my sketch pad peeling away from the trunk. Peeling away like old skin, making room for the new, clean and green regrowth to come through.

Those couple of hours were exactly the nourishment I needed. To be able to touch nature with my hands, my feet. To be serenaded by bird song, snapping twigs and gently shifting water. The sound of the light breeze in the trees. I found myself writing poetry as well as sketching.

I’ve come away feeling revived and my creative flow running smooth and thick with ideas. It was definitely an experience I will make sure I have again.

If you are feeling smothered, stale, just over the world, especially now with Covid- take a walk in nature. Nothing will revive you as well as the natural world. And you don’t have to worry about social distancing from trees.

– Sam Ogilvie

Featuring Lee-Anne Corrigan

By | Art, Virtual Gallery

Lee-Anne Corrigan is a Novocastrian Artist and Art teacher, who loves painting portraits and contemporary themes in oil, acrylic, pastel and mixed media.

Lee-Anne’s qualifications include Diploma in Art, Diploma in Education and Post Graduate art University of Newcastle.

She has worked full-time and part-time in Secondary and Tertiary Education since 1983 as an Art teacher and instructor and have taught Children’s Art classes since 1990. Lee-Anne also held a position of the Art Director at Society of Artists between 2016 and 2018. Presently you can find her working as the early childhood art educator at The Rumpus Room Early Childhood Centre.

She has been actively pursuing her passion for Art in competitions and exhibitions and have received awards from The Society of Artists, winning The Newcastle Prize for overall Best Painting in 2018 for her oil painting of Three Kings.

‘Princess Dreaming’ 

Oil on canvas, 75 x 61 cm, $550

Artist Statement: Children are often the subject of my artwork. I have always enjoyed teaching children at my home art studio since 1990. This painting is a whimsical composition depicting children at play as they explore dress up and dreams. It is inspired by Chagall, one of my favourite artists.

‘Encaustic Still-life’ 

2020, Mixed media and beeswax 31 x 25 cm, $120

Artist Statement: This year I have turned my home studio into an encaustic art studio for experimenting with hot wax painting as an extension of my interest in mixed media. My husband keeps bees and I make my own paint with beeswax and Damar resin. It’s an exciting medium to explore and blend with drawing, painting, collage and 3-D art forms.

‘Portrait of Kurt Fearnley’

2018, Oil on canvas 75x 61cm,  $550

Artist Statement: I painted Kurt’s portrait for the Portrait Painters Hunter annual portrait exhibition. I met Kurt while I was working as early childhood art educator at The Rumpus Room Childcare Centre.
Kurt Fearnley is a renowned Novocastrian and Australian wheelchair racer who won gold medals at the Paralympic Games. This portrait was voted People’s Choice in 2019.

‘Profile with a water pot’

2020, Pastel on colour-fix paper, 47x37cm, $160

Artist Statement: A profile photo from my travels to Uganda was the subject for this pastel portrait drawing. I love to teach portraits to my students and I made this one for a Zoom Art class during lockdown.

Introducing Samantha Ogilvie

By | Art, Virtual Gallery

How do you keep creative during lockdown?

 

I’ve been very lucky when it comes to lockdown. I’ve been able to continue one on one classes at Art Mania using Facetime. These sessions have been the highlight of my week and has given me something to look forward too, especially during a dark week.

 

I’ve found that it’s easier if I make sure I schedule in some creative time everyday.

 

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, this weekend I’m cleaning up a clay bowl I made on the wheel. This involves shaving off outer layers of clay to clean and shape. I find the rapidity soothing and even meditative. Even just some colouring in will help stay creative. If you’re a parent, it would also help the family to try doing something creative together.

Who’s Samantha and what kind of art does she create?

Samantha Ogilvie has an advanced diploma in Professional writing and editing. She is a poet and blogger who has only recently come back to art.

She works with several different forms, styles and materials. Clay, mosaics, glass fusing, mixed media and painting. Most of her work is inspired by the natural world and attempts to show just what she can see, rather than focusing on what she can’t. Flora and fauna along with pieces that juxtapose the natural world with the artificial. All the materials Sam uses are chosen for their feel and texture.

 

Nightscape

Artist Statement: This painting is one of several created by the artist where different materials were used to create a textured view of a visual that is often taken for granted. As the artist is blind, the idea was to create something we all know, but from the unique point of view of someone who sees the world differently to the sighted. Rock salt was scattered over the canvas while the undercoat was still wet and more water sprayed over the salt. The salt that didn’t dissolved was shaken off or wet as part of the end piece. This has worked to create a visual representation of the artist’s tactile view. Other layers of paint has also been used to fill out this visual representation.

Landscape of the blind

Artist Statement: This painting was created using the same techniques as the previous painting. Rather than using salt, the artist has experimented with other materials. Glue was applied with a glue gun to make the surface of the painting uneven and textural. Once the under-coat of paint was applied, different colours of wax were dripped across the canvas. Again, it is created to try and give those the sighted world, a glimpse into what someone without sight can see and just how much their hands can actually see.

Lockdown Tatoo

Artist Statement: A shop mannequin consisting of torso and top of the thighs. Using multiple materials I wanted to create a piece that expressed the effects of isolation and the new landscape created by Covid-19. the collar hanging around the neck symbolises the loss of control over ones life and the enforcement of restrictions and rules. The leather over the shoulders and upper chest are an armour against the fear of the unknown. the tangle of thread over abdomen is the tangle of the gut when dealing with the new foreign world.

In contrast the torn up pieces of book pages covering the back is the power of words that has always been been available and the shells are the ebb and flow of the tides offering hope that things don’t last and there will be an end. The softest materials represent the softer underbelly in all of us. And the criss-cross materials are to represent the stitching of ones self back together.

Featuring Michelle Nugent

By | Art, Virtual Gallery

How do you keep creative during lockdown?

 

During lock down, I have been experimenting with new ideas, concepts and materials. I start my day with a twenty-minute exploration exercise, and each day I aim to try something different. It also challenges me to produce something in a limited amount of time, which is hard for me as I tend to overthink and dwell on an artwork. I then start my day, which has usually been working on commissions. Follow up with another twenty-minute exercise after lunch to break up my work and reignite my creative juices for the afternoon.

 

I think it is important that we allow ourselves the opportunity to experiment without judgement, and explore without limitations.

 

This is when growth occurs! If you are finding yourself struggling during lock down, I encourage you to try my twenty-minute exercise. Try something new; maybe you have always wanted to try palette knife painting, or use collage in a mixed media piece… It can be anything! Remember to set aside all judgement – it doesn’t need to be a masterpiece!

You might discover something really amazing…

Let’s learn a bit more about Michelle and her art

Michelle Nugent is a Newcastle-based artist, working across a range of mediums.

She produces both personal and commissioned works, for a variety of clients. Her works range from mixed media, watercolour and digital, and are available for purchase as prints and a selection of originals are also available. Michelle is constantly looking to the environment around her to gain inspiration and ideas for her explorative work, and is always seeking new ways to improve her practice.

Organic Exploration #04

Watercolour, Sharpie, and Chalk on 200gsm cold-press watercolour paper, 21cm x 29.7cm, $35.

Artist Statement: Organic Exploration #04 is a study of the basic principles and elements of art in the form of a mixed media work. I have layered different mediums to explore organic shapes and their relationship between rhythm, pattern, and line. The shapes drawn in pen and chalk suggest fluidity and a relationship to water in the organic environment, which correlates to the material used on the bottom layer (watercolour). When creating this work, I imagined water droplets hanging from the linear patterns, creating an overall sense of movement.

Digital Illustrations & Portraits

Digital Illustrations, custom, prices are as follows: 1 Person – $30, 2 people – $50, 3 people – $65, 4 people – $80, 5+ people – $100+. Note: Drawings are customised to each person, thus the exact ones in the images are not for sale and serve as an example.

Artist Statement: These portraits are completely customisable depending on requirements. Using a reference image, I create a character drawing of up to ten people. They are a great way to capture a moment in a fun and creative way. I can add in things that are representative of the particular person, such as wearing a jersey of their favourite team, playing an instrument etc. They make wonderful gifts and look great in a frame.

Meet Ashlee Jedrzejak

By | Art, Virtual Gallery

I must always create, it's who I am...
Creativity for me births the entangled
and chaotic words and feelings
entrapped in mind, body and soul.
It’s my voice - an infinite
wordlessness spoken to the universe.

Ashlee JedrzejakArtist | Art Teacher

Let’s learn a bit more about Ashlee and her art

Ashlee has completed an Advanced Diploma of Fine Art, at Newcastle Art School, and is a practicing artist and art teacher.

She has had a innate passion for creating art from a very young age. Loves experimenting and exploring with an array of different art materials, but particularly enjoys acrylic painting and drawing. Ashlee has an affinity to create with a kaleidoscopic pallet, and uses courageous mark making to produce energetic works of art that are very raw and playful. Her inspiration is magnetized from nature, and day to day experiences.

Ashlee is an immense believer in art, as a means of self expression, and finds the act of art making quite therapeutic and enlightening. She feels that it is an honourable experience to guide and teach others to this awareness.

‘Tide pool’ 

2020, Acrylic on canvas 51 x 61 cm, NFS

Artist Statement: Inspiration for ‘Tide Pool’ was drawn from the Carey hole in Newcastle, and also in a metaphorical sense it reflects the landscape of the mind. It portrays a treasure trove of marine delights, in a tiny yet complex ecosystem. It was fascinating to create this piece, explore and experience where these hardy inhabitants survive the pounding waves, forceful winds and exposure to the sun.

‘Enlightenment’

2018, Mixed media on board 45x 60cm,  $160

Artist Statement: My work ‘Enlightenment’ was created while pregnant with my second son, and in the depths of exploration of self. It reflects the childbearing woman, nourishment of breastfeeding, and the correlations between nature as a source of life and an inspiration for personal reflection and emotional growth.

‘Eye don’t know’

2019, Mixed media on board 30x45cm, $120

Artist Statement: ‘Eye don’t know’ was created and guided by intuition. The repetitive use of the third eye symbol is a reflection of self- what it is to be human and woman, and the connectedness to the universe. The gaze of the figure holds painful yearnings and love that is so potent and melancholy that it lingers. It’s a love that lunges forward in anticipation, but with nothing to meet it…