“Artisans is a lovely mix [of emerging and established artists] and quite eclectic. That’s what’s fascinating about it. Finding these amazing people. It’s just terrific.”
One find was Jim Hamilton who crafts agapanthus and cactus out of iron wire.
“Jim’s a sheep farmer who wouldn’t class himself as an artist or an artisan and, all of a sudden, he’s become one overnight. He’s done so well – and is absolutely pleased as punch.”
In curating the exhibition, Moore volunteered time over ten months to visit galleries, trawl Instagram and negotiate with more than 45 artisans to secure their involvement. She and the volunteer committee also managed the logistics for more than 2,500 artworks to be displayed from October 15 to 23 at the Lion Gate Lodge for visitors to purchase.
Ann Robinson has volunteered for 12 of the 16 years of Artisans because she enjoys it. “I love coming here and seeing how clever people are. They’re so creative. Look at these scarves by Zoe Wall. So beautiful and versatile.”
Robin McBride also happily gives her time to botanic garden events like Artisans, Botanica and Tree Cycle, because it’s such a gentle and relaxing place. “I got married here five years ago at Lion Gate Lodge – so I have happy memories.”
Ceramicist Katherine Mahoney has exhibited three times in Artisans and used this year’s theme of nature and the garden to extend her range of hand-thrown pieces.
“My inspiration came from the local sandstone and the beautiful rocks you find with the little speckles of gold. I’ve introduced some new shapes and some gold into the range – so that’s a big, new step for me.”
Mahoney says one huge benefit of being at Artisans is getting feedback from customers about her tableware.
“I work in isolation – and I’m in my little workshop all day. Here I can communicate with the people who are buying the pieces or looking at them. I get some really valuable feedback as to how people look at the colours, how they like to put things together.”
When Mahoney’s not helping customers she’s mulling over a baby-pink plate she’s making for Troy Rhoades-Brown from Muse restaurant in the Hunter Valley.
“I’ve got to get it right for him so he can serve the strawberries and the coconut cream in a cloud of liquid nitrogen – and then he’s putting a blackcurrant veiling on top of that … It’s a big challenge!”
Moore is excited by the work of the many emerging artists featured this year and mentions Holly Macdonald’s quirky hand-painted pottery, Kate O’Farrell’s acrylic and ply bowls, Kai Wasikowski’s 3D photographs, and Pamela Pudan’s ceramic orbs with fine wafers.
The diverse mix of contemporary art, sculptures, ceramics, textiles, bespoke homewares and jewellery has attracted good crowds in 2016, and Moore has enjoyed watching its creators bask in the Artisans’ oasis.
“Different artists come at different times but there’s no pressure for them to be here because we have sales people on the job. So it’s a lovely atmosphere for the artists.
“I don’t think there’s anything like it.”