This is a story about patience. It’s a story about courage, and it’s a story about the amazing things that can happen when the stars align.
Back in 2015, two young artists were referred to the Art Partners program. These two artists had never met before, and they were referred separately and at different times.
They each came for preliminary art sessions so we could get to know them just a little. We could see their potential from their portfolios and from what they achieved during their sessions.
However, we had no concrete idea of how to support them to go forth and expand on their arts practice.
The year drew to a close, Christmas came, and 2016 began.
After a patient wait, the lucky break finally came at the end of February. The City of Bunbury had launched an initiative called Withers Art Studio. Kelly Darragh was the Artist in Residence, and was offering a spirit animal illustration workshop. The workshop was full, but thankfully a second one was on offer.
We suggested this activity to our two young artists, and they were both keen. Thus, that’s when this amazing journey began: Monday, February 22 with Kelly at Withers Art Studio.
But, first, before we take you away with us, special thanks to our photographers who have generated these gorgeous images: Rob Cox of oxy images and Sandra Nysten.
Meet the Artists: Jasmin Engstrom and Emily McLean
We arranged formal portrait sessions with photographer Rob who visited both artists in their respective homes. Here’s Jasmin Engstrom at her desk where she does much of her creating.
Here’s what Jasmin’s says about her art-making: “Art makes me feel calm, relaxed and like I am able to do anything.”
This is Emily McLean with a work in graphite pencil, and in her favourite position on the bar stool.
As for Emily’s thoughts on her practice: “Art makes me feel free and relaxed. It is also how I express my emotions, but mostly it is just fun.”
Spirit Animal Illustration
Beautiful outcomes were achieved in the spirit animal illustration workshop led by Kelly at Withers Art Studio. Here’s Emily’s Pretty (sharpies) complete with Korean script.
This is Jasmin’s acrylic Galaxy Wolf.
Ping Pong Table
Following on from their fabulous experience with spirit animals, Jasmin and Emily were invited to collaborate with Kelly on the next Withers Art Studio project: executing Kelly’s watermelon-themed design on a ping pong table in Maidens Reserve. Over three sessions (March 9, 10 and 11) the trio met after school, and brought the table to life with vibrant acrylics.
The Social Network
The stars were indeed aligned and the first joint exhibition opportunity for Emily and Jasmin was The Social Network youth arts exhibition at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries (BRAG) as part of the Shift 2016 youth festival. They both created and entered works (courage required here) which addressed The Social Network theme.
This is Emily’s Friendship (sharpies).
Here is Jasmin’s Kill Self Confidence with Social Media (graphite pencil) for which she won an age-category prize at opening night on April 8. The judges had this to say: “Her work was a thoughtful and evocative representation of the risks inherent in our increased reliance on social media and the negative impacts on young people in our community.”
The paths of the young artists also diverged and they tried a few activities without the pleasure of each other’s company.
Jasmin enrolled in a four-week modern mixed media class in March led by Denise Ladhams at the Stirling Street Arts Centre (SSAC). Jasmin was prolific and created these two mixed media works along with Wolverine (coming up below).
Emily attended a banner-design workshop (April 11) at BRAG led by Michele Grimston and created a graphite pencil work which is being consolidated with other contributions to create the banner design (not yet unveiled). She also participated in the Groovin the Moo Sisters Cities Art Project (theme of Interstellar) led by Charlotte White at SSAC. Emily created an acrylic which was Highly Commended by the judges who said: “Love the prominence of the Bunbury Tower and play on scale that has been used.”
Dardanup Art Spectacular
Emily and Jasmin both entered work (more courage required) in the Dardanup Art Spectacular and attended the opening night alongside family members at the Dardanup Hall on April 29.
This is Emily’s beautiful A Seascape (pastel).
Here are Jasmin’s two entries: Wolverine (mixed media) and Dragon Flight (watercolour with graphite pencil).
Second Public Art Project: Grooving the Moo
The duo rounded out their recent parallel adventures by attending workshops for the Groovin the Moo Scrim Art Project led by Dee Mosca at SSAC. They created designs for the theme of Interstellar. Then, alongside other artists, the duo executed their designs (May 6) on the scrim adjacent to the artists’ entrance to the venue’s backstage area.
What a Journey!
Thus far, it’s lookin’ pretty amazing for Jasmin and Emily. With patience while we waited for an ideal activity, combined with an ongoing alignment of the stars and a healthy dose of courage mixed in, the possibilities proved to be endless.
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