Saturday, August 29, 2009

Support Cuppacumbalong

Recent discussion in the Canberra Times highlighted the threat to Cuppacumbalong as a community heritage asset.

Please support the petition to protect Cuppacumbalong's heritage and arts and craft purpose. Sent to all people who you think could support it too

Friday, August 28, 2009


How long have you been creating art and how did you get started?
Have always been creative, but now I am retired I also have the time. The last two-year has been full on trying new things-decoupage earrings, designing boxes and silk scarf painting. Have created so much I have had to open on line stores to share my work with others.

What is the main inspiration and influences for your work?
I love color and texture especially in paper, just love Japanese Yuzen paper and have created several decoupage earrings and pendants using this lovely paper.
My obsession is decoupage, taking beautiful papers and creating glass-like unique pieces. The joke in my family is if you stand still too long Mum will paper you as well.

I do not go for traditional designs such as floral and angels, love Art Deco and Art Nouveau, and interesting color combinations. I also use leaves and flowers, fabric or just my own watercolor paintings.

Items that I decoupage are include boxes and coasters, jewelry and glassware. My favorite medium is canvas, creating a painting using various papers and other materials or a collage.

When and how did you realise, this what you wanted to do with your life?
When I retired it became a natural progression to develop my existing skills with experimentation.

What other areas of life have shaped your work as an artist?
One area of experimentation was flame glass bead making, which I enjoyed and was reasonable good at, but the cost was more than I could handle. I still move in those circles and I get inspiration from the color combinations that some of the glasses naturally create. There is a hypnotic effect to the molten glass and I achieve a similar feeling with the flowing varnish.

How would you describe the art & design scene in Canberra?
Canberra has so many talent artists but sadly they are mostly unknown.
There are several Arts outlets which are relative unknown such Strathnairn and Benedict House.

It is difficult to find sales outlets or opportunities. Galleries charge such large commissions. Maybe we need to band together and hold our own Art Show, let people know we exist.

What have you learnt most about establishing yourself as an artist?
Having to create items to a deadline for an Art Show or to fulfill an order, takes some of the joy of creativity away. In an ideal world you create to your hearts content, then simply place in a store and sell. Sadly this is unlikely to happen.

Where would you like to take your art in the future?
I am happy to sell enough to pay for my materials and maybe a little extra for myself. I still want to experiment with different mediums. I am happy with my range of Arts-color being the connection.

What advice do you have for other artists hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Be patience; get yourself known, and prefect your art. Mix with like-minded artists for inspiration.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inner North Community Fair

Sunday 20 September 11am - 3pm
Banksia Street, O'Connor (next to the tennis courts)

- Planned wetland display
- Eco stuff and Eco advice - green energy, seeds & plants, water tanks etc.
- Sustainability organisations and programs
- Local and organic food
- Vibrant entertainers
- Children's activities
- Volunteering opportunities
- Craft market - contact Hilary Thomson [] for more information how to hold a stall

Presented by the Ginninderra Catchment Group and Inner North SEE-Change

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST - Kathy Geurts, Studio Amara

How long have you been creating art and how did you get started?Ive been creating art since I was three, in my Mum and Dads restaurant walking around with my paper and pencils.More serious art came in school then it was off to design college to get my degree. Then I opened my corporate design studio and found that people were prepared to pay for my design! After 23 years though I found it was no longer art and that’s how I discovered the mixed media jewellery and contemporary clays that I'm into now.

What is the main inspiration and influences for your work?
This is a difficult question because as every creative person knows, there is not just one point of inspiration or influence. What influences me mainly is the amazing forms in nature and being a Gemini Im very much influenced by what is happening at that point in time. Ive just come back from Greece and Turkey so that seems to be featuring heavily with me at the moment.

When and how did you realise, this what you wanted to do with your life?I did not realize that I would become a jewellery artisan until two years ago. I always thought I would be a landscape designer until I learnt I needed to study chemistry then I decided to switch to interior design. After applying to Randwick TAFE for their interior course and being told that I would be more suited to graphic design my path was carved out. Working within a commercial world where the client chooses what is good design and not I began to feel I was no longer creating and this drove me to seek out a new creative direction that would once again feed my soul.

What other areas of life have shaped your work as an artist?Being around children and looking at how they see the world. Studying with other teachers and learning too from the others at these classes.

How would you describe the art & design scene in Canberra?I think the Canberra scene is very sophisticated. I love the variety of artisans working in the area. In fact I feel that overall the standard of design presentation in Canberra , ie at the market scene is far superior than what is going on in Sydney.

What have you learnt most about establishing yourself as an artist?Believe, believe in yourself at all times. Do what makes you happy not someone else. If you are not passionate about a piece of design and art you are doing then don’t do it as it will only be second rate anyway.

Where would you like to take your art in the future?I would like to have my work represented in more galleries around Australia. While my work has become well known in the Southern Highlands I would like to create more presence in Canberra and Sydney.

What advice do you have for other artists hoping to follow in your footsteps?Again, believe in what you are doing, its normal to have self doubt but don’t let it stop you! Always research your market, networking is so important as we can't create in a void. Continue your training and education always as you must never stop growing.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


How long have you been creating art and how did you get started?I have been writing for over 20 years; my first magazine article (Dolly) was published in 1988 and my first book (You Name It, Hodder Headline) was published in 1995. I’ve written in many genres including script and playwriting, fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles, reportage, interviews, reviews and children’s books. I have also written and taught various workshops. I’ve written for Time Out, beijingkids, City Weekend, and currently write for Australian Women Online and Little Star magazine (Beijing).

I decided to self-publish two books just before leaving China in January of this year… I had not planned on this – it is something that just unfolded and the success of both books has been beyond my wildest dreams. Beijing Tai Tai (a tongue in cheek memoir of family life in Beijing) and Riley and the Sleeping Dragon (a unique multimedia children’s picture book) are still selling out in China and are now being distributed Australia wide. I’m currently writing the second book in the Riley series and it’s been one of the most rewarding projects of my life.

What is the main inspiration and influences for your work?I live to write and my inspiration comes from everyday life – from the smallest things that people do and say; from the things I see. I’m heavily influences by aesthetics – beauty, colour, nature, photography, film – and of course – books. I read prolifically and am constantly inspired by what I read. I also find I’m inspired and influenced through travel – the sights, sounds and cultural disparity I’ve experienced over the years have injected much flavour to my work.

When and how did you realise, this what you wanted to do with your life?I’ve always written and have always dreamt of being a respected author. My first piece was published in elementary school. Alas, I’ve also been an easily discouraged and self-doubting person. As a consequence, I’ve wasted a lot of my working life doing ‘other things’.

Writing is not a well-paid, easy profession – it is unpredictable, unstable, and full of rejection. It wasn’t until we moved to China and I had the opportunity to write so productively and fruitfully, that things really took off. I had over 220 pages of magazine and internet articles published in just 16 months, and also wrote, self-published and marketed two books in that time. It was a surreal journey and the results have been absolute confirmation that I’m ‘meant to do’ this. Finally!

What other areas of life have shaped your work as an artist?
Becoming a mother and the confidence and sense of accomplishment that has brought me. Also, the small hardships I’ve been through – I have been determined to twist them into positives. I really feel I have earned the right to do what I love and to succeed at it. On top of loving what I do, I really want to do it for my kids and leave them something memorable and special. I want to show them that you can follow your passion and succeed, no matter the obstacles.

Receiving feedback and responses to my work has been an incredible boost to me as a writer, and this continues to shape my work in a wonderful way – it not only brings me confidence, it makes it all worthwhile. Positive comments or reactions are indelible and continue to absolutely shape who I am and subsequently what I write. Having people appreciate or even grow from reading your work is an unbelievable feeling.

How would you describe the art & design scene in Canberra?Having come to Canberra from one of the world’s most exciting, artistic and design-rich hubs, I am absolutely astounded at the eclectic mix of talent in Canberra. Who would have thought it? I am so impressed and inspired by the creative women I’ve met, in particular, and I’m also delighted by the mutual support being shown to artistic people, right across the board. It’s really exciting to see a resurgence in, and a renewed appreciation for, all things handmade. There are some very clever people here.

What have you learnt most about establishing yourself as an artist?I’ve learned I can do this. I can do what I love and I can succeed, and people can love my work. It’s one of the most amazing learnings I’ve ever experienced. Simple but true. And it’s something I want to teach my children.

Where would you like to take your art in the future?I dream of becoming a household Australian name in children’s and adult literature. I would like to infiltrate (don’t tell the Chinese, they don’t like spies!) the children’s book market in China and write directly for Chinese children. The current children’s literature setup is about to blossom in a wonderful way and I’d love to help that happen and be one of the first Western writers to enchant those beautiful kids.

I want to expand my Kids Book Review website into something teachers and parents all over the world can use as a resource. It celebrates existing and new talent in children’s literature and includes news, reviews, interviews, authors, illustrators and information on publishing. I already have several contributors, which is wonderful.

I also have a super dream of heading my own magazine, something I’ve been working on for some time. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on making my first Riley book into a series.

What advice do you have for other artists hoping to follow in your footsteps?It’s so easy to just say “go for it” and don’t let anything hold you back; that is a given. But I also say that the timing must be right. I wasted a lot of time in Beijing before getting into my writing again but I often wonder if I would have succeeded so well if I’d started things earlier. You have to be ready and you have to ‘ready’ yourself. Educate yourself, research things intently and then systematically set about your work. If you just throw yourself and a tonne of cash into things without a thought for what you’re hoping to achieve or where you’re going, you could waste a lot of time, money and creative energy. Focus is a huge component to success.

The other thing I’d say is be prepared to work your guts out. Be prepared for setbacks. One of the best things I learned on this seemingly insurmountable journey of self-publishing from China is that each time I stared in terror at the mountainous obstacle in front of me, I just put my head down and burrowed right though (hyperventilating all the way!) and absolutely refused to let it beat me. I am still, to this day, astounded at how these very large obstacles just peeled away of their own weight. I still can’t believe it. We can be powerful when we believe, unfailingly, in what we are doing.

Be like the ‘little engine that could’ and just keep powering along. Do not give up. Do NOT give up. Each time you get scared, fire up that old classic – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

Riley and the Dancing Lion: A Journey Around Hong Kong will be released in time for Christmas. See my website for updates.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

FEATURED ARTIST - Julie Gianotis of Julie G Photography

How long have you been creating art and how did you get started?I’ve been painting for around 14 years and photographing for 6 years. I began photography by assisting a wedding studio in Sydney. This provided an incredible learning experience which has become the foundation of everything I know today.

What is the main inspiration and influences for your work?With my personal work which is mainly abstract and still life work I am inspired by abstract and repetitive forms in nature. My favourite painters are Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch and Cezanne. My inspiration for my portrait photography is the challenge of capturing some depth of emotion in my images together with great backgrounds and lighting. I try to create a connection for the viewer so that they feel as though they want to be involved in that moment I’ve captured.

When and how did you realise, this what you wanted to do with your life?When I was sitting in a well paid office job on the 20th floor of a building in Sydney. At the time I was studying photography and selling my paintings part time. I knew I had to get out of the office and determined I was going to become a photographer somehow.

What other areas of life have shaped your work as an artist?I think having a background in painting has been a very strong influence in the way I think about photography. Also, my interest in portrait photography comes from a fascination with people and psychology. I enjoy interacting with people and encouraging them to let their guard down for just that moment to make emotive images with impact. I think one of the most important parts of image making is how you relate to people.

How would you describe the art & design scene in Canberra?Since moving here last September I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the incredible mix of highly talented and creative people I’ve encountered.

What have you learnt most about establishing yourself as an artist?That networking is vital and that business skills are essential. I don’t think it matters how good an artist you are, without business and marketing skills you can only go so far.

Where would you like to take your art in the future?I’d like to be continually challenging myself by developing my personal work and I’d like my portrait photography business to continue to grow. I would also like to return to painting in the not too distant future.

What advice do you have for other artists hoping to follow in your footsteps?That perseverance and determination are vital. I could have and probably should have given up a thousand times. But when you know what you’re supposed to be doing you just keep going no matter how bleak things can appear at the time. I think staying focused on where you are going and having a supportive network around you is also very important.

What is new for JulieG Photography?
I was recently chosen as one of 30 photographers worldwide to appear in a book entitled “Real Colors of My Life”. The competition was held by Datacolour in Switzerland. The book is now for sale through Blurb Bookstore, please visit Proceeds of the book sales will go to an orphanage in Chile.

Julie G Photography now offers pet portraits to clients within the Canberra Region combining Julie’s love of animals with her passion for portraits. And last but not least I now offer “Photography workshops for Beginners” providing One-on-One Tuition for those who would like to get more out of their camera and learn professional insights to dramatically improve their photos. Photoshop tuition is also available.

Julie G Photography will be at the next Handmade Market so pop by and say hi.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Calling all Baby & Children Handmade Designers

Leading Melbourne children’store bebe, is holding a competition enabling three winners to advance their handmade product/s beyond the craft stall and into a live store environment.

Three talented first prize winners will receive mentoring support/assistance to get their product commercially prepared for retail trade. This will be followed by 3 months of Christmas trade in-store presence at bebe’ shop front store in Toorak Rd South Yarra and its website

The handmade product must be modern, unique and functional, in line with bebe’s product offering. Categories include handmade children’s bedding, toys, d├ęcor, gifts, accessories and parenting products.

Whilst winners should not quit their day job this year. they must be ready to embrace the busy Christmas period as their product is given the big break into retail.

Competition runs from August 1st 2009 – September 7th 2009. Product sample to be sent for review by August 31st 2009. For entry categories, selection criteria and prize details go to