Right in the heart of the vibrant Meander Valley town of Deloraine is a community of artists and artisans, who work co-operatively in a not-for-profit gallery and workspace.
Deloraine Creative Studios houses 12 mini gallery spaces to work and exhibit from, along with a travelling exhibition gallery room, community radio station and a training room, where artists can run courses for locals.
“The advantage it has is, I rent studio space here, where I can work and I also exhibit in it as a gallery,” watercolour artist Steve Howells said.
“My work’s for sale. The advantage of doing so for me is I rent my gallery space from a not-for-profit corporation at a very affordable rate and, as with other artists here, it makes my work more accessible to my clients and the public because we’re not paying any third-party margins - there’s no gallery commissions or shop markups. As a result, I sell much better here as we all do than when we exhibit our work elsewhere.” It also means artists could meet their clients.
“One of the big advantages for us and the clients is I get to meet everyone that buys a piece of my work, which doesn’t happen when I’m exhibiting in a gallery, and it makes a big difference. People like to meet the artist.
“But also for us personally. For example, I did a painting of the Low Head lighthouse and the chap that bought the original of that work, his grandfather had been the keeper of the lighthouse so that’s why he bought it.”
Within the 12 mini gallery spaces, the studio is home to potters, painters, wood turners, weavers, photographers and jewellers. “It makes for a good mix for visitors and it also displays well the great depth and diversity of the artistic talent there is in the local area,” Mr Howells said.
Deloraine Creative Studios is just one of a number of creative galleries and shops that have popped up recently. While it has been known as an “artsy town” for a long time, the creative buzz has really skyrocketed in recent years.
“It is a very vibrant community and in my time here, certainly other artistic ventures have blossomed,” Mr Howells said. “We’ve seen Brush Rabbit and that’s a fabulous venue with some magnificent works, the Elemental Artspace has grown larger and moved into the old iconic Harris’ building. The Corner Crafts has also opened up on the main street and that showcases work from a lot of local artisans.
“My wife and I were made very welcome here, not just in the artistic community, but in the community generally. It’s a very welcoming community.”
And then, of course, there’s the Deloraine Craft Fair, which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the town each year, really cementing Deloraine’s reputation as the town of arts and crafts.