Get your hands dirty and learn something

This article was published in the Newcastle Herald online and in the print edition of the ‘Weekender’ on August 3, 2019. Image courtesy of Hudson Street Hum.

Home to more artists per capita than anywhere else in Australia, Newcastle is an inherently creative city. It is little wonder then that the arts organisations, studios, schools and businesses that populate the city frequently share their talents with locals through creative workshops. Here are 20 to explore.

Hudson Street Hum

Hudson Street Hum in Hamilton is a dedicated space for hosting creative workshops, classes and events for adults, teens and kids with all levels of ability.

“Hudson Street Hum runs workshops in all forms of art-making, from painting, drawing, clay sketching, through to sewing classes,” says Suzie Galwey and Aleeta Cliff, who established Hudson Street Hum 18 months ago.

“We also run kids’ writing classes, poetry events and book launches.”

Onwards Studio

Shared creative space Onwards Studio was established almost two years ago in a dirty back alley garage by Brett Piva, a curator, designer, artist and founder of Newcastle’s MAKE IT-MADE IT Conference.

Onwards now operates out of a big warehouse in Hamilton, which includes a gallery and events space. ”That small idea has grown into an evolving ecosystem supporting local artists, designers and makers in Newcastle through a creative co-work space, workshops, exhibitions and events,” says Brett.

Workshops see experts share a diverse range of skills, training and discussions that can assist any creative career, alongside topics around health and wellbeing.

“Our workshops are welcoming and invite anyone to participate. Anyone from a complete beginner to advanced practitioner can get involved in creative drawing, ceramics, lettering, design, art and so much more.”

The Creator Incubator

“The Creator Incubator (TCI) is a lively creative hub that houses 29 resident artists, designers, makers, and thinkers. We have a diverse range of residents and talents,” says TCI founder and director Braddon Snape.

Braddon says TCI regularly run short workshops for artists and makers. “Most recently, we’ve had a jewellery workshop by Oscar & Matilda and an embroidered art workshop by Meredith Woolnough in conjunction with Timeless Textiles.”

TCI is home to The Incubator Gallery, a contemporary art space that showcases the work of its residents. The gallery and an accessible event space in TCI’s Hamilton North-based creative community are also available for hire to host exhibitions, workshops, and classes.

Make Space

Make Space began life in Newcastle Mall in 2009 as one of the first Renew Newcastle experiments.

“In its new incarnation in 2019, Make Space at The Station is again an artist-run retail space, gallery, and workshop proudly representing and supporting makers exclusively from Newcastle and the Hunter,” says Edwina Richards, a photographer, and one of ten artists that make up the Make Space community.

Make Space offers classes for adults, workshops for kids, school holiday programs, and mums and bubs workshops. This includes ceramics, photography, screen-printing, felting, jewellery making, design and design-based computer program workshops.

“Our scope is broad and ambitious and includes an extensive line-up of arts programs run by our core members, as well as by external artists and creatives, appealing to a broad section of ages and audiences in the community.”

Creative Village Newcastle

“Creative Village Newcastle (CVN) was started in late-2016 and we opened our first pop up shop in January 2017,” explains CVN founder and creative consultant Leah Fawthrop.

Over that time, CVN has grown to include a collective of 28 Hunter-based artists, creators, makers and designers and a store in Charlestown.

“By coming together as CVN, small scale creativity can put down roots and grow,” says Leah. This includes the hosting of creative workshops for adults and children in spaces across Charlestown Square.

“So far, we have organised terrarium, natural dyeing techniques, lino and block fabric printing, dried flower wreaths, and more for adults.”

School holiday workshops for kids have included making dream catchers, foraged jewellery making, mini terrariums, flower crowns and self-portraits, and bag decorating.  “The younger the child the more enthusiastic they are, and they are always so proud of what they do. It really is a great experience.”

Newcastle ArtSpace

Established in 1983, Newcastle ArtSpace (NAS) is a not-for-profit multi-arts organisation. Home to a variety of resident artists and incorporating an artist-run gallery, NAS offers creative workshops and courses throughout the year.

Catering for the hobbyist through to the professional, life drawing, portraiture, and yoga for creatives are among some of their educational offerings.

Kara Wood Ceramics

Operating out of a space within the Newcastle ArtSpace in Tighes Hill, Kara Wood Ceramics opened around four years ago.

“Initially I started as a small operation, however interest in classes was such that we were able to expand quite quickly.  There is a real resurgence in ceramics and people wanting to learn how to make their own,” says Kara.

The studio currently hosts approximately 100 regular students a week. This includes weekly classes for adults and children for all levels of ability, as well as weekend introductory workshops.

Specialist collaborative sessions with guest artists are also occasionally held. The next of which is in November with painter, printmaker and textiles designer Julie Paterson.

Regular workshops include making a salad bowl, platter and plate, or succulent pot and learning to throw on the wheel.

“Watching a novice take a piece of clay and turn it into a product at the end of the day really is something special.”

Timeless Textiles Gallery

Located in Newcastle East, Timeless Textiles is the only commercial gallery in Australia solely dedicated to fibre and textile art. Fibre artist and gallery owner Anne Kempton opened it in 2011.

 In addition to showcasing a range of international, national and local fibre art exhibitions, Timeless Textiles Gallery regularly also host workshops and community art programs.

This includes a free Wednesday Makers Group (who each year contribute towards an International Women’s Day project), and workshops, held throughout the year, that cater for all skills and abilities.

Upcoming workshops include weaving a coiled basket from waste with Trudi Nisbet in late-August, and deconstructing and reassembling a finished artwork into a new work with Eira Chidgey in September.

Workshōpp Ceramics

In addition to creating ceramics for retail and by commission, Workshōpp founder Simone Madigan offers pottery and ceramics classes from her studio in Maryville.

Catering for adults of mixed skill levels, Simone offers casual weekly classes and four or eight-week workshops spanning hand-building ceramics, wheel-throwing, trimming and glazing.

With a focus on process, Simone aims to provide a creative, meditative and encouraging environment supported by small class sizes.

Melt Jewellery School

Located behind the Studio Melt store on Hunter Street, the Melt Jewellery School has been operating since 2012. Workshops and classes run throughout the year, including an eight-week beginner’s jewellery making course, and a range of rotating technique and material-based workshops, such as enamelling and stone setting. Group and private lessons are available.

Newcastle Libraries

Newcastle’s network of local libraries has a range of workshops that cater to residents of all ages. Among them, four-week beginners’ sewing workshops, weekly kids crafternoons and LEGO Clubs to Teen Takeover Tuesdays that explore coding, 3D printing, cross-stitch and retro gaming activities.

Newcastle Studio Potters Inc.

Newcastle Studio Potters (NSP) Inc. this year marks its 50th anniversary. Their Cooks Hill base is home to Back to Back Galleries and a gallery shop, as well as a workshop from which they run ceramics classes. NSP run three evening classes and one daytime class each week, which cover hand-building, wheelwork, and sculpture for adult potters new and experienced.

Hunter Writers Centre

Not-for-profit organisation Hunter Writers Centre offers a variety of writing-related courses and workshops throughout the year, including creative writing, self-publishing, writing for children, and poetry.

 Art Mania Studio

Art Mania Studio was established by Fee Madigan 12 years ago. Describing it as an inclusive practice, Fee says she wanted to create a “safe place for all walks of life to be exposed to creativity and art” and “where all people have are welcomed, regardless of their background, health and or life challenges”.

Fee and her team of ten work with students of all ages and abilities, the youngest of which is aged four-and-a-half and the oldest being 91. Adults, teens and children are well catered for with a roster of weekend art workshops, programs and block courses.

Glass fusing, mosaics, painting, resin, pottery, and jewellery making are among the classes available.

Creative Word Shop

Ed Wright is one of the founders and the sole director of Newcastle-based The Creative Word Shop, which opened in 2015.

“We offer introductory, memoir and advanced creative writing workshops for adults,” says Ed, a published author, poet, and regular fiction reviewer for The Australian.

“We also do school holiday and term time kids creative writing workshops and go out to schools too.”

The Creative Word Shop also offers copywriting, manuscript assessment and editing services and teacher professional development programs.

Hive Creative Studios

Hive Creative Studios in Charlestown offer creative classes and holiday workshops for children (spanning babies and toddlers through to teens) and adults. Art, singing, music, drawing, drama and dance are among those to choose from.

Art House Studios

“In 2013, I started running small classes in my art studio behind my house in Lambton. They became popular, so in 2016 I moved to the larger premises on Turton Road,” says Priya Joy of Art House Studios in New Lambton.

A teacher for 22 years, Priya runs art classes, courses and workshops for children, teens and adults for various levels of experience. She says, “My aim is that every student, no matter how old or what stage they are at, leave each class feeling more confident in their abilities.”

The Levee Art Gallery and Studios

Opened in 2018, The Levee Art Gallery and Studios in Maitland host a range of art workshops. Many of which are overseen by resident painter Lorna Ballantyne Epps. Catering for beginners and experts, classes include painting, collage, resin and chalk paint furniture.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery offers art classes for children and adults. Currently closed until September for a $2.3 million upgrade, art classes will be held in alternate locations till then. The re-opening will see the gallery launch a new arts program for adults and children.

The Arts Emporium

The Arts Emporium in Lambton has been running art classes and workshops for children, teens and adults since 2005. Workshops offer students a chance to learn about a specialised art form, while classes, for students, both entry-level and accomplished, explore a broad range of contemporary and traditional art forms.