The Strong sisters, Fleur and Caroline have been making waves in the food and art scene of Launceston with their new enterprise ‘Makers at Milkbar.’
A creative hub filled with local Tasmanian makers as well as Caroline’s own works of art compliments the local and quirky spin on the Milkbar Cafe, St John Street.
Originally from the United Kingdom, both Fleur and Caroline are passionate about their new home, and Caroline’s work through C Strong Designs is heavily inspired by the landscapes and animals of Tasmania.
“It is so important for us to promote Tasmania, I’ve never felt at home anywhere in the world as much as I do right here in Tasmania,” Caroline said.
“This extends from my art, the makers we promote through Makers at Milkbar and the local produce that is used in the cafe.”
A self-taught artist, Caroline’s monochromatic pieces feature echidnas, Tasmanian devils, wombats, platypi, and a host of Tasmanian hotspots including Bicheno, Cradle Mountain and Mount Roland.
Every piece of work is original and all feature their own quirky one-liner that Caroline believes embodies Australian humour.
“I think my stuff is old-school fine-line, with a fresh vibe, and a sense of humour. That’s the best way to describe my work,” Caroline said.
“Humour comes quite naturally to me and people love it, it's not just the tourists, locals love having a piece of Tasmania hanging in their house too.”
Caroline said she had no intentions of ever becoming an artist, but it was all down to her sister Fleur for getting her started again.
“In my early thirties, I dabbled a bit with art and didn’t get anywhere with it,” she said.
“When Fleur bought the cafe she asked me to create some bespoke Tasmanian artwork and at the time I was pregnant with my third child and didn’t think I had the time.
“I started to create these Tasmanian pieces with the quotes added in,
I kept going with it and it has just taken off, I love what I do and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”
Inspired by her sister's artwork and wanting to continue the shop local theme of the previous Milkbar owner, Fleur seen the opportunity to expand the Milkbar.
“Supporting local crafts and artists is very important to us and when the shop next door to the cafe came up for availability it was just the perfect opportunity,” Fleur said.
“At the time Caroline was really taking off with C Strong Designs and Makers at Milkbar just came together from there.
“It was an opportunity to become a platform for not just Caroline but other designers, makers and artists.”
Makers at Milkbar is open all year round and is fast becoming a hot spot for locals and tourists to pick up something uniquely Tasmanian either as a gift or for their own home.
Caroline wanted to create a creative space that wasn’t seasonal or a once off pop-up and that embraced makers from all backgrounds.
“We weren’t sure how we were going to go attracting artists but we've had a brilliant response,” Caroline said.
“We have a lot of different makers featuring at the moment, from a lady who makes homemade, Tasmanian doggie treats to a really creative artist who works with buttons and a guy who creates works of art on rocks.
“It’s such a mix, everyone is very creative and nobody is in competition with each other so it’s a very supportive space.”
The gallery can also be used as an artist workshop space, something which Caroline and Fleur are keen to promote amongst local artists.
“We have already had a number of macrame workshops and are hoping other artists take up the space,” Caroline said.
“People love the space because we have the cafe attached they can have a coffee or a bite to eat while they are doing their workshops.”
“We are constantly amazed by the local talent here in Launceston and we are keen to become a hub for that.”
Milkbar on St John Street, Makers at Milkbar and C Strong Designs are open Monday - Friday 8am - 3pm.
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