Artisan Collective in need of a new home

Almost 12 months after it opened in Magnus Street, the Artisan Collective will close on Sunday with no concrete plans as to when it will get up and running again.

The store the Artisan Collective has operated out of since November 2016, owned by Port Stephens Council, is slated for demolition to make way for the Yacaaba Street extension.

The group of 10 artists that run the collective have been unable to find a new place to call home.

So when they pack up the shop on Sunday, they do so without knowing when or where they will start up again.

Corlette artist Janet Mackintosh, part of the Artisan Collective, said the group has been talking with d’Albora Marina and Salamander Bay Square about setting up in one of its empty spaces.

However, Ms Mackintosh said there has been “nothing concrete” from the talks.

“The Tomaree Business Chamber popped by to say they were very keen to have us stay in Magnus Street or the CBD, as the empty shops are really detrimental to our fair town,” she said.

“We pack up on Sunday, but are ever hopeful of new space.”

As well as injecting the artists into their community, the Artisan Collective also helps to activate “dead space” and encouraging foot traffic back into the Nelson Bay CBD.

Port Stephens Council offered the Artisan Collective group an empty shop it owns in Magnus Street.

The group transformed the dreary space into an inviting, bright gallery. 

Ms Mackintosh said there was a lot of value for owners of empty shops in Nelson Bay’s CBD to allow them to occupy the space.

“Because it's colourful and vibrant, people pop their head in [the Artisan Collective] for a sticky beak,” she said.

“Tourists come into the CBD for a coffee and do a lap of the area and at the moment, there is a lot of dead space.

“There is hope that someone will feel so generous as to have us activate their space.”

Janet Mackintosh at the Artisan Collective in Magnus Street, Nelson Bay.

Janet Mackintosh at the Artisan Collective in Magnus Street, Nelson Bay.

From August 2017:

Where a dark, dank shop once stood closed in the heart of Nelson Bay for many years is now light, art and personality-filled thanks to a group of artists.

The Artisan Collective, located in Magnus Street, was initially established to give Port Stephens artists a space to showcase their work, but it has evolved into much more.

As well as injecting the artists into their community, the Artisan Collective is “activating dead space” and encouraging foot traffic back into the Nelson Bay CBD.

“We have two aims,” Corlette artist Janet Mackintosh, part of the Artisan Collective, said.

“One is to showcase local talent. Port Stephens is home to many wonderful, different artists. 

“Our second aim is to turn around and activate old and unused space.

“If you had seen the space last year, you would not recognise it today.

“It was the old Internet cafe and it was dark, dreary and empty, and had been for a long time. It is now light and vibrant. 

“With six shops empty in Magnus Street, more in Cascade Walk, more in the walkway to the footbridge and some in Donald and Yacaaba Streets, a supported venture like Artisan Collective can showcase retail space and encourages foot traffic into empty space.”

The collective was born from Smart Arts, a Port Stephens Council-led program run last year.

Smart Arts encouraged Port artists to get out of their garages and studios and into the public space.

From taking part in Smart Arts and networking with Destination Port Stephens, a group of six artists were offered a pop-up space to showcase their work at d’Albora Marinas Nelson Bay.

The pop-up was only meant to last two weeks, but they were invited to stay for six before Port Stephens Council offered the Artisan Collective group an empty shop it owns in Magnus Street.

The group transformed the dreary space into an inviting, bright gallery. The Artisan Collective also grew to include 12 artists.

Ceramic creations by Anna Bay artist Ashley Fiona are on show at the Artist Collective in Magnus Street, Nelson Bay.

Ceramic creations by Anna Bay artist Ashley Fiona are on show at the Artist Collective in Magnus Street, Nelson Bay.

Also read: Smart Arts artisan collective pop-up open | photos

Now the collective is on the hunt for a new home, with the space it is currently in slated for demolition for the Yacaaba Street extension.

“We have the current space until mid-September,” Soldiers Point artist Anna Webster, also with the collective, said.

“Port Stephens Council has been very supportive and instrumental in helping us set up our current Artisan Collective model.

“A number of local politicians and business members have also been supportive.

“We hope to be involved int he development of a creative hub that will not only support local artists, but will also help to reinvigorate the Nelson Bay CBD.”

In their pursuit of a new home, Ms Webster and Ms Mackintosh said there was a lot of value for owners of empty shops in Nelson Bay’s CBD to allow them to occupy the space.

“Because it's colourful and vibrant, people pop their head in [the Artisan Collective] for a sticky beak,” Ms Mackintosh said.

“Tourists come into the CBD for a coffee and do a lap of the area and at the moment, there is a lot of dead space.

“There is hope that someone will feel so generous as to have us activate their space.”

Meet some of the Artisan Collective artists

Liz Oldmeadow from Shoal Bay

Liz Oldmeadow from Shoal Bay

I'm mostly focused on natural history subjects. I'm also a photographer. I do landscapes, portraits, weddings. I've just illustrated a children's book, which has just come out. It's in the UK at the moment but I'm trying to get it over here. It's called Duffy's Lucky Escape. It's my first children's book. It's all about teaching kids about the effects of plastics in the ocean. I saw the call out last year and I applied to join the Artisan Collective. I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase my art. It's been a fantastic experience.

Liz Oldmeadow
Anna Webster from Soldiers Point

Anna Webster from Soldiers Point

I do everything from drawing to painting. I love working with oils. Lately I've been working with ink on wood, which is fun. I met Janet [MacKintosh] at the pop up down at the marina and asked how could get involved. I was in the first group that moved up here [Magnus Street]. A few people left but new people came through, which is great because it's always changing, it's dynamic. It's great to be able to showcase local work, get people out of their garages or home work space, and get into a retail space to show their art, sell their art and talk to the lovely people who come through and meet all the other people here. It's a great community connection.

Anna Webster
Joanna Johnston from Nelson Bay

Joanna Johnston from Nelson Bay

I started painting about two years ago, after I retired. I'd always been interested in art but busy with my own business. I retired and decided to give it a go. I found myself experimenting with all different mediums and went to a workshop with some other like-minded ladies and started doing resin. People think it's easy, but it's not. The resin has a mind of its own. You have to try and control it. A friend of mine asked me to come to the opening night for it [Artisan Collective]. I came to the opening night and was really impressed with the concept. I put my name down that I would be interested in joining and contributing some voluntary work towards the job and thankfully they accepted me. It's engaging, it's inspirational. It's fabulous.

Joanna Johnston
Peter Masters from Newcastle

Peter Masters from Newcastle

I asked to be involved. I loved the concept, I love the art, I really enjoyed the people and asked if it would be possible to be part of it. I spent half my young life up here, spent every Christmas at Salamander Bay, every holiday. I have so many wonderful memories as a kid. I feel really attached to it. I'm a photographer. I teach photography and Photoshop. I love photographing the ocean - anything to do with the ocean. I just love it. I was drawn to it as a kid, lived all of my life round the beach. I like it when it's dark and moody, when it's stormy.

Peter Masters
Ileana Clarke from Nelson Bay

Ileana Clarke from Nelson Bay

I love contemporary abstract but I also have a tendency toward traditional work styles. I've been doing a lot of water colour and drawing. I teach also. I'm a tutor at the Tomaree Community College. Sometimes I tutor at the Maitland regional Gallery. Just recently I won the drawing section of the Singleton Art Prize, which was nice. Also highly commended in another section. I was thrilled. I went to art school soon after I finished school. I went into Fine Arts just 10 years ago. Now I love being part of the community more than anything, even though I like being part of competitions and exhibitions. I was part of an art group which had a gallery in Morpeth. They've closed now. I was invited by Anna [Webster] to be part of the collective. I thought it's nice to support local people. Even though I'm a member of the Port Stephens Community arts Centre I think it's nice to have another area to support as well. It's also more accessible for people, because it's in the centre of town.

Ileana Clarke
Janet Mackintosh from Corlette

Janet Mackintosh from Corlette

I started mosaic probably 15 years ago, before kids, when I was working part time. Moving to the Bay I suddenly got a lot more time and came back to art. I really love it because it's tactile. I love the history behind it and it's quite versatile, even though you're working in stone or glass, it is actually quite versatile. I've been in and out of the Artisan Collective, simply because having two young kids it's hard to give a full commitment. I've been here now since February. I'm really passionate about local art and local. I see it as a great opportunity for all these lovely people to present their works. And it's so nice to have people come in and talk. We talk about everything. It's a great opportunity to be part of the community. But also because we want the Bay to do well. If more shops are open, it's a vibrant place.

Janet Mackintosh