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Hidden treasures

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Livecreativlee as part of @hello_newy_east

Over the past year, treasures have been unearthed within the old City Arcade. Tucked away between Hunter Street and Newcomen Street, the small retail strip – known to have once housed swimming baths below its current façade – is filling with a collection of local artisans.

One of these makers is mixed media artist and jeweller Barbara Nanshe, who is enthusiastic about the creative direction the Arcade is heading. Although she admits foot traffic is quite low within the arcade, more so than central Hunter Street mall district, many state-wide and international tourists keep Barb optimistic.

Having formerly traded in The Emporium, Barb remembers meeting customers visiting from many different corners of the globe, fascinated by Newcastle’s burgeoning maker culture. Today, alongside fellow jewellery maker and silversmith Vanessa Day, Barb mightn’t see as many locals as she did in her previous shopfront, but friendly tourist visitation still makes its way down the alley of the City Arcade.

One of Barb’s favourite regulars is an avid traveller and collector of things. The customer will present Barb with her worldly findings and request to have the pieces made into customised wearable momentos of her travels. This fuels the passionate artist and environmentalist in Barb, who’s one-off pieces are all made from 100% ethically sourced materials. Whether it be recycled metals or unique found objects, Barb harnesses her craft to construct and repurpose beautiful new works of wearable art.

If you haven’t lost yourself in the hidden gems, metals, and leathers of the City Arcade, it’s time you headed in.

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Storyboarding a city

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Paul Dear

The story of how graphic artist and academic Ben Mitchell became appointed onto Renew Newcastle’s board of directors reads quite like one of his comic book narratives. With less murder-mystery but equally compelling as his popular Storm Clouds series, Ben’s career has seen him navigate and illustrate Newcastle’s unique subcultural landscape.

Local coffee houses, weekly music events, and university celebrations are just some of the subjects Ben has treated through his distinct comic-style aesthetic. It’s through the connections he’s made not only as a local artist but as someone passionate about what’s happening and who’s making it happen in Newcastle that fuels what he does so well.

That’s not to say that Ben isn’t one of these very leaders in the community himself, having been heavily involved in the production of creative co-working space The Roost in its beginnings as a Renew project in 2010. Following that time, Ben would manage his own Risograph printing studio, serve on The Roost board as president for a number of years and acquire his current role as a course co-ordinator at the University of Newcastle in Visual Communication and Design.

Today, as Ben continues his work in both illustrating and educating the city he lives in, he is excited by what he can bring to the Renew board in 2018. Having always been deeply connected to Renew, whether it be through his history as a participant or for his love of seeing things happen in Newcastle, Ben still has a gripping story to tell.

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Luminous curiousities

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Ryan Fitzgerald

In an age heavily dominated by social media, with its demand for instantaneous, picture-perfect imagery, one can question where authentic and art-driven photography resides. Hamilton’s Clocktower Studios can serve to answer this question, where an impressive collective of creatives, the majority of whom are professional photographers, work to master their craft on a daily basis.

Fine Arts graduate Ryan Fitzgerald joined this studio collective early last year, landing himself in the ideal space for his unique print-making practice. Exploring a process that emerged in the mid 19th century, Ryan’s wet-collodian prints are something that’s best witnessed up close and in person. “If you look at it under broad daylight, it’s just luminous” says Ryan, when observing one of his printed plates under the sun from the studio balcony.

Striking in photographic detail, the plates require swift darkroom attendance in which the entire process, from coating to developing, is executed within the short time it takes for the plate to dry. Predominantly self-taught, Ryan has become well acquainted with the process  and is now choosing to challenge the aesthetic conventions through his prints. Decaying food, insects, and unsettling film personalities appear strangely endearing as Ryan combines a beautiful process with somewhat grotesque subject matter. The result is what keeps Ryan so immersed in the process: creating visual paradoxes that make the viewer question ideals of beauty.

Following significant national recognition for his work recently, Ryan foresees exhibiting his latest collection of prints in Sydney at the end of the year.

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Onwards for Islington

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Onwards resident Studio Photographer Zoë Lonergan

Give a man a brush, a computer, and a space to create, and some seriously exciting things are bound to happen. With a need to upsize from his former commercial space in Newcastle’s west end, Renew graduate Brett Piva of creative design studio Pocket Design recently found his new creative home in the heart of Islington.

The aptly named Onwards Studio is a step forward for Brett, in which the new space that is equal parts industrial, equal parts airy, serves as the ideal co-creator space. Housing six other creatives ranging from photographers and graphic designers to painters and textile artists, Brett is optimistic about the new studio space.

Onwards Studio marks another welcome addition to the league of creative collaborator spaces being established throughout Newcastle’s city suburbs. With the recent establishment of creative workshop space Hudson St Hum – of which Brett painted the external mural – only a short walk away in Hamilton, and Renew’s very own Clocktower Studios further down in the centre of Beaumont Street, Onwards can be seen to signify the increasing prominence creative local talent is making in Newcastle.

What’s most exciting about the growth in these co-creator spaces is the diversity in what each space offers. Brett was conscious of this when building the space and prides Onwards on its facilitation of both creative digital and “mess-making” work. While Brett leads weekly Pocket Design lettering and sign-painting workshops in one corner, he’s developing designer brand identities for local projects in another. If that’s not enough for one day, Brett is currently putting together the final touches to this year’s upcoming Make It Made It Conference which will take place on the 21st of July.

You can catch up with Brett and the rest of the local creatives occupying Onwards next Friday the 13th. Walk in through their driveway to be welcomed by the creative team and a lovingly made lunch, then kick back into the evening for a few drinks and good conversation.

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One to follow

5 April 2018 | Posted in: News

Written by: Rayannon Innes | Photography: Lazy Bones for Talk to Bec

In the past decade things have really started to happen in Newcastle; unusual and exciting things. Within the past four years, events, whether they were street performance, theatre, music festival, art exhibition, poetry, film screening or anything in between, The Follower was letting the public know about it.

Out of an impressively small and creative team of three, Zana Kobayashi was at the centre of what the independent street press was doing for Newcastle’s creative culture. Although the publication finished printing in 2016, and the collective graduated from their Renew studio space late last year, the stories shared and events managed as part of The Follower left an impression that would inform how Newcastle values its vibrant arts and events culture today.

On a personal level, Zana attributes her time working for The Follower as instrumental to the career she has today. She credits her role in managing the publication to building a position of trust between herself and her direct community. This is evident through her profound career within creative place-making, marketing and management, where today she finds herself contributing her expertise in every corner of the community.

Most recently, Zana has been dedicating her time in her role as Events Co-director at Talk To Bec where she has managed major community events including the Beaumont St Carnivale, Newcastle China Week and the Bikers For Kids Toy Run. Impossible to keep still, Zana is also currently the studio coordinator at Sawtooth Studios and project manager at creative branding agency Guts Creative. Zana will also be responsible for writing regular contributions for the Arts and Culture section of the Newcastle Herald – a full circle experience for one who has helped shaped where local arts and culture is today.

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