Art, recycling and local goodness. 3things loves these …three things. So of course we were excited when we discovered a cool little art collective that gives back to the community with their sustainable art.
The Heymaker! collective hopes to reconnect their local community with their art. The group of artists, Belinda Smith, Kathy Egan, Jo Olive and Ellie Beck got together in response to a number of stores in their local town centre closing down. They use the empty shops to run art workshops and re-establish community networks. They use the pop-up shop idea to spread their creativity. These spaces are filled with markets, crafts and art and this is how the majority of the Heymaker's work is created. The art workshops do not just get the locals reusing the old shops but it also brings attention to those shops that are still open.
Better still, Heymaker! use reusable goods in their artworks and the materials are locally sourced. We particularly love their print making style since it involves carving shapes and designs into local veggies and using them as stamps. You can check out any upcoming events and previous artworks via their website but in the meantime we have posted Ellie Beck’s answers (on behalf of Heymaker!) to our questions.
3things just had to ask
1. What inspired the development of your project?
Our initial starting point was based on interconnected aspects of who we are and where we live. We live in a beautiful place in the world (in Murwillumbah and surrounds, in Northern NSW) that is full of vibrant, natural and unique wilderness, and an extinct volcano. Our little town itself is going through what many other towns across the globe are experiencing - an economic slump. There are many vacant and empty shops; the main highway that used to bring trade to our town now by-passes it, and the train no longer comes through to our town. It's dis-heartening seeing people struggling so hard to make their small business stay alive, let alone thrive, and watch people head off to the shopping malls instead of small town service.
We decided that we wanted to do something to make a change to how people see our town - locals and tourists. To re-new and enliven our beautiful art-deco town, and bring something back to the quiet corners of the main shopping district.
The best way we knew how was by using our natural artistic and creative skills and talents. The Murwillumbah area is a draw card for artists of all mediums, and has been for years. We wanted to use this talent, yet bring it to the fore - to showcase what is hidden in studios and workrooms throughout the district.
Our group, Hey Maker! A Creative Collective, came together out of a shared vision to see Murwillumbah's economic and community situation change and improve, but also to raise an awareness of the modern handcrafted and creative movement that is happening all around us.
2. What have been some achievements of the team’s work?
Being a newly formed group (only since January this year) we are endlessly setting ourselves new heights and goals to exceed our previous events. Our first pop-up art making event was a complete success in many ways. We received so much support from the local community and media, and created a ripple of chatter about the changes we can all make, and how easy it is to make change. We defied the thinking that things can't be done, or that you need to have financial support, or endless government planning - we jumped in and worked hard to make our plans happen. We showed a lot of the local businesses and government that some dedication, imagination and heaps of sheer will power really do make a splash! There's so much more happening, and we're not letting anything stand in our way of forging ahead.
Our art making in based on recycled, recyclable, organic or thoughtfully designed principles. This is a natural extension for how we all live, so it's been important for us to make it an integral aspect of our events and our education on what we do, and why we do it. To show the community that creating and art can be done with minimal materials, and low wastage is an eye-opener for some people - it's exciting for us to see the change this makes in people's thinking and actions.
3. Were there any barriers being a artist trying to make effective change?
A lot of artistic barriers come from lack of funding. Constantly looking for funding, and applying for grants or donations takes away from the work of creating and making, and moving forward. Looking at things in a new manner, with imagination and a few creative minds at work - so far we've been able to find success with no funding. Involving community support is often a good way to overcome this, or at least find a friend who is good at grant writing!
4. What would you say to young Australians looking for ways to make a difference?
I think taking a leap of faith is sometimes the hardest thing to do. But to believe in yourself, and your ideas and vision is possibly the only way to do those sometimes silly and often unbelievable projects and ideas. It's easy to say you have no funding, or space to do your project, but if you never try you'll never know how much you can make happen using your wit and creative skills - and a few donations from your friends, family and local community members. And you'll never get to meet the wonderful people who come out to support you, and who are inspired by you!
Also - to remember that making change needn't be big or dramatic, or even newsworthy. Us Hey Makers live in a small town, we don't want to change the world - we just want to change our environment, where we live now, and where our children will grow up. We're making change through painting, and crochet, and potato prints - and while that might sound silly, I believe that if it changes the thinking of one single person it's all worth it. If it changes the thinking of a whole town - well, then wow!
Education is also such an important aspect of change. For yourself, but also for others. Slowly trying to educate your family, friends, children, neighbours - those are little steps that I have always taken to aim for change in positive ways.
5. What are 3things (further things) you would do to change the world?
I personally aim to live simply in my daily life (less rubbish, less made in china, more handmade / locally made, less stuff).
To instill this in my children, so the next generation aren't caught up on the need to consume.
To re-learn the skills and crafts of our ancestors - so they aren't lost forever. To honour the heritage and history and appreciate the meaning behind things, so something becomes more than just another thing, but rather a treasured moment.