What's on at Port Stephens Community Arts Centre in August

TALENTED: Port Stephens Community Arts Centre member Evelyn Swinburn is one of just two artists that creates paper tole works.
TALENTED: Port Stephens Community Arts Centre member Evelyn Swinburn is one of just two artists that creates paper tole works.

The exhibitions and displays at Port Stephens Community Arts Centre are ever changing but one constant is a wall of work by long-time member and artist Evelyn Swinburn.

Ms Swinburn, a member of the Nelson Bay-based community arts centre for 26 years, has a permanent display wall within the annex of the gallery to showcase a different and rarely used art style that is a passion of hers – paper tole.

During her early years of her membership, Ms Swinburn was an avid member of patchwork, card making and fusion groups.

But she found her true passion in paper tole which is an old craft, thought to have originated in Venice in the 18th century, where three dimensional pieces were created and placed under glass to decorate table tops.

Some believe it to be an off-shoot of decoupage.

There has been a resurgence both in Australia and around the world where the craft has undergone, and is still undergoing, vast changes in the techniques used.

Paper tole art is a paper craft and hobby which involves cutting, shaping, sculpturing and gluing cut outs obtained from identical prints, and building these components up using silicone, to create a 3D picture.

At least five prints of the same image are used to create lifelike pictures, with the execution of delicate cutting, curving and building of the pieces before it is glued down.

The more shaping there is and the more lifelike the finished picture appears.

Paper tole needs hours of practice and patience to perfect.

Some images are helped along occasionally with a touch of nature or other material like wire to give depth, as long as it is not more than 10 per cent of the total image.

Ms Swinburn uses pencils to perfect the edges of her works. 

She also creates her own frames which require a box as part of the backing to hold the art works.

Many people have bought paper tole cards from the gallery and framed them as unique art pieces.

The centre’s paper tole group was once a thriving group of 20 enthusiasts however sadly there now just two members practising this unique art form.

On show at the centre until August 14 is the Marine and Industrial Art exhibition.

The paintings depict all things maritime, seafaring and related industries.

Artists have been hard at work creating beautiful ships, boats and seascapes.

The annex features Nature of the Bay where each work captures the character, including local eye-catching scenes, the freshness and freedom that wildlife enjoys in its natural environment. 

With the support of the Port Stephens Council a directional sign has been installed at 40 Victoria Parade, pointing people from the ferry wharf to the centre.

Port Stephens Community Arts Centre is located in Cultural Close.

The gallery is open 10am to 4pm daily.

The garden cafe is open 10am to 2.30pm on weekends.

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