Artistic collective based in Tighes Hill
Whilst all of us here at HUNTERhunter love a good foodie find across town, there’s one group of locals that gets us all giddy with excitement when we hear what they’re up to; who is it you ask? Our talented creative community. We’re talking about the many local painters, musicians, designers, ceramicists, photographers, sculptors, dancers, and more that make the Newcastle creative scene tick.
Well, one group of local creatives have joined forces to create a new artistic collective based in Tighes Hill; SMAC Studio. Started by Newcastle abstract artist, Sally McDonald; SMAC was officially brought to life in June this year.
Sally got her hands on the keys to the building back in November 2019 and wanted to enjoy having a big ole space to herself after deciding to make a few big changes in her life; selling her house and quitting her full-time job to be exact.
“I have raised four kids, and in the last year of my child finishing the HSC, I thought I would like to work for myself. I went straight from school to having children and growing a family and lots of different jobs working for other people.
“I did this radical leap and sold my house and quit my full-time paying job; this is pre-covid by the way. I used to drive pass the space and I would imagine this big white filled box as a beautiful space to work in. I just so happened to look online, and it was available for lease. I did whatever I could to hop on and get it. I stalked the real estate agent, I begged, and I pleaded to have the warehouse; and I got it,” Sally told me.
The large warehouse space has been home to a number of different businesses over the years including the old home for Little Wren Flowers and Crab Apple Vintage.
“I spent some time just sitting in here on my own making and creating. Doing what I had always wanted to do. I just really wanted to see if I could do what I loved and be viable.”
Working over at the Creator Incubator back in 2017-18, Sally was looking to potentially expand the building into a co-working creative space.
“I loved that idea of working in amongst a collective of creatives. I also wanted to offer a space for artists to just come and do their own thing without any bureaucracy or have a feeling that they had to have a certain name or qualifications.
“I also wanted to have a space for workshops or for exhibitions as well. I knocked this up on a mud map with one of my sons. We stepped out some spaces and decided a wall on wheels would be cool so that we could block things off and move things around and make the space quite versatile.”
Only recently wrapping up renos on the space, SMAC now has three resident artists occupying the space; the lovely Sally McDonald, silversmith and painter Sarah Davy and contemporary artist Kiasmin Burrell.
Sally and Sarah have known one another since working together at Eckersley’s a few years back as well as doing a joint exhibition back in 2011. Sally ended up meeting Kiasmin after constantly bumping into each other across the local art world.
“We’re all connected somehow which seems to happen a lot here in Newcastle,” Sarah said.
With each of the artists set-up in their own dedicated space, silversmith and painter Sarah is situated at the front of the studio sharing the space with Esther Robertson of Elwood Mac; maker of oversized wall sculptures out of yarn. Silversmith and landscape painter, Sarah is constantly creating and making new pieces to add to her collection.
Kiasmin studio is based towards the back of the building, and is full to the brim of work-in-progress pieces and on some days, her very important assistant, Banjo! Just across the hall you’ll find Sally working on her abstract and Australian landscape pieces.
“It’s just lovely in here and full of lovely people which creates a beautiful environment,” Kiasmin said.
SMAC Studio also makes it easier for buyers to experience the work and meet the artist before making a purchase. Rather than buying from a retail space, buyers can drop by the studio to meet with the artist directly and hear the story of the piece straight from the individual artist.
“People can buy directly from the artist here. It’s nice for people to be able to buy directly from the artist. Plus, people like to be able to see your space, they hear the story about the work and talk to the artist,” Sally said.
The studio also has plants to host a range of workshops and exhibitions, with their space available for creatives to hire. Whether you’re an emerging artist looking for a blank canvas of a space to exhibit or a creative wanting to host group workshops, you name it the space can do it.
“We want to be able to host workshops and provide a space for people to put together whatever it is that they’re thinking of doing. We can hire the space out to all sorts of creatives,” Sally said.
The trio also have plans to collaborate on a group show to celebrate the launch of the studio coming September 2020; so, watch this space for more news!