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Showdown in the West End

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News


There are still many empty buildings in the west end of Hunter Street – wasted opportunities – and, as was shown in the Mall, property owners can be big winners when creative people are given opportunities.

Read more about Renew Newcastle General Manager Christopher Saunders‘ outlook on the current developments and creative opportunities in Newcastle’s west here.

Affinities in difference

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News

By Rayannon Innes

Belonging. It’s that innate sense of peace with who and where you are as a human being that we all attempt to pursue.

One particular woman, a linguist and self-trained photographer by trade, is exploring this sentiment for herself through the photographic documentation of her community’s people. Four years ago, Natalie Testorelli decided to collate her black and white portraiture of Newcastle’s refugee community into an expanding body of work which she has found to reveal as much about herself as the diversified individuals being captured. Having migrated to Australia at a very young age, Natalie has found locating her own sense of belonging to be a persistent journey. With her collection of portraits now exceeding two hundred, the act of photographically archiving her community has in turn made her herself feel established within Newcastle both geographically and emotionally;

“The process of gathering images and thinking about the project, has me feeling as if I too belong… we all love this place and we all just want to get along and find our way through life.”

With the intent of highlighting how diversity and otherness subsequently unifies us, Natalie has been volunteering her time to photographing anyone willing to sit, state their name, and share their postcode. In the formalities of consent, Natalie’s subjects join the myriad of portraits illustrating Newcastle’s distinctly diverse community. With her subjects’ postcodes, Natalie envisages developing a visual map built from the portraits of each participants’ postal zone.

From volunteer cooks at the local community centre to a young couple requesting to pose with their son’s beloved dog, Natalie’s documentation of the strange and wonderful in the everyday is testament to her project’s core premise, “I think that’s belonging; knowing there are other people who are really different to me, who still feel the same way as I do”

If you don’t come across Nat’s photo booth at a community event, you can make an appointment over the phone or by email to have your photo captured for the project at her studio space in Hamilton’s Clocktower Studios.

Big change from small beginnings

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News

Petra Hilsen is stepping down from her position as a board member after eight years of solid commitment to our cause. Petra has been a huge asset to both Renew and Newcastle by providing a unique perspective and enthusiasm to support new ideas and change. We wish her well on her travels around Australia.

Here is her story:

In Melbourne, I had worked in community development, managing a childcare co-op. Here in Newcastle, I worked for the business improvement association and had good knowledge of the already existing businesses. I could see that increased creativity would bring life back to the city and how it would assist already existing businesses by bringing more foot traffic to the areas.

Being part of a board that is committed to Newcastle and to creative business has been extremely rewarding. I believe Renew’s success is due to board members being focused and able to work together in a highly professional way. It could have been easy to stray and take on other issues, but we stayed true to our mission to connect people with vacant spaces, and support a community of creative entrepreneurs who bring life, interest and activity into under utilised neighbourhoods.

I was very new to Newcastle when I joined the board. Being involved with Renew gave me a great opportunity to understand this city and to be an active part of its renewal. Some of my favourite memories are of the early public events held in the church in Morgan Street. The property owners, supporters and creatives all got to know each other at these events.

The announcement of the winner of the busking competition in 2009 in the Tea Project shop front on Hunter Street was particularly interesting and raw – an event embraced by a younger demographic wanting to make the city theirs again. This project later on was given notice to make room for a new commercial business to move in becoming one of the first success stories for Renew. That business, One Penny Black, continues to be a successful commercial business operating in the mall.

For the future, I would like to see the importance of Renew’s contribution recognised as a vital part of the city’s renewal with a long term funding commitment.

City Arcade the new location for bespoke wares

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News

Chia Chi shares her story.

With a passion for handcrafted leather goods, I was lucky to have an opportunity to show my skills by opening a shop in The Emporium. This motivated me to professionalise my business and gave me a place to sell my work.

Renew has supported me by promoting my business. This helped my confidence, helped the business to grow strong and led me to know the market better.

With the closing of The Emporium, an opportunity came up in the City Arcade for me to relocate CCY Studio sharing a space with Janita, BIII bookbinding.  Now I will be able to continue to provide handcrafted leather goods to my customers from the new location.

I welcome feedback from my customers and friends and look forward to seeing you in the new shop.

Thank you Renew for all your support over the years!

Making it big in Newcastle and beyond

23 August 2017 | Posted in: News


Trevor Dickinson of Newcastle Productions / Photo courtesy of Mitch Lee Photography.

Trevor Dickinson of Newcastle Productions | Photo courtesy of Mitch Lee Photography.

Back for its third year, one of Australia’s premier creative events for the arts, making and design communities, Make It Made It, returned to Newcastle. Founded and curated by Renew graduate, Brett Piva from Pocket Design we are excited to see its growing reputation drawing a national audience.

Held at Newcastle Museum, the conference invited an incredible selection of Australian and International artists and industry professionals to share their stories. Renew participant Trevor Dickinson was among them.

Each shared key insights into their unique practice and processes along with a strong panel discussion on arts based funding.

This year’s panel consisted of a diverse selection of artists, designers, makers, artist managers and also grant and crowd funding facilitators.

For local creatives, it’s an opportunity to interact, network and converse with fellow artists over creative talks, exhibitions, discussions, masterclasses and live music at an after party to remember.

Once again this event that has proven to educate, excite and inspire and is worthy of it’s position in becoming a nationally recognised conference.

Renew’s Rayannon Innes attended this year’s MAKEit MADEit conference and shared her experience in a written contribution to Newcastle Live which you can read here.