Art workshops are having a moment in the sun and where better to learn a new artistic skill than at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre. Sarah Vercoe discovers how you can get involved and the benefits of becoming a BFF.
A resurgence in pottery and other creative arts has seen a marked increase in workshops at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre (BFAC), with most selling out in just a couple of days and new additions being added regularly.
A welcoming and inclusive centre that helps foster artistic pursuits in a variety of mediums, BFAC offers a diverse range of hands-on arts and crafts that people can learn in an inspiring environment.
BFAC Coordinator Alicia Sharples said workshops were thriving with the community seeking out ways to get hands-on from beginners to advanced levels of skills.
“We used to hold masterclasses every six weeks, now we will do two per month,” she said. “We have really had to increase what we offer due to such strong interest. People come to the centre to learn a variety of crafts however it is our pottery workshops are in the highest demand at the moment.”
Alicia said this surge of popularity has led BFAC to appoint Michael Ciavarella as a dedicated Pottery Coordinator to facilitate workshops and masterclasses to keep up with demand.
Michael credits visual social platforms like Instagram for the revival of pottery.
“There are some great images being shared and the beauty of pottery translates well,” he says.
“We’ll be partnering with a variety of artists to provide a diverse range of workshops this year.”
Returning to the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre is master ceramicist Barry Tate with a large form throwing workshop.
“Barry established artistic roots here, founding the Sunshine Coast TAFE Arts Centre at the Factory back in 1995,” he says. “It will be great to welcome Barry back to the centre.
“He brings a wealth of knowledge and will guide potters through how to work with large wheel throwing forms.”
Potters also have a chance to use the firing facilities at the Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre with the Centre having a gas kiln, which Michael says can be hard to find these days.
“Most kilns in the region are electric but a gas kiln offers some great variants in glazes and the fact we offer that is pretty awesome,” he said. “We encourage people to bring their pots to the centre and we’ll fire them.
“I’ve been working with gas kilns for years and am more than happy to help fire potters’ work.”
The four-week Introduction to Wheel Throwing course begins in April with three different time slots available for those wanting to learn the art of the wheel.
In addition to pottery, other workshops on offer include oil painting, watercolour, wool felting, make your own oil pigment and more.
An upcoming Workshop linked to an exhibition is Let’s Play Wild with Maleny-based artists Laura Vecmane and Ketakii Jewson-Brown. Exploring the theme of playfulness and wildness in its many facets; the diverse roles of the feminine, the surrounding environment, and the many sensual experiences of daily life; the workshop with place an emphasis on the bounty of plants in the region and how they can be crafted into unique art forms.
Participants will sculpt organic materials into pieces to adorn their body, from intricate accessories to one-of-a-kind headpieces. And to celebrate their creation, participants can have their portrait taken with their artwork.
You can also join artist Fiona Groom to explore the world of textures, using acrylics to create a variety of animal and background swatches; or create studies of animal life rendered in charcoal, ink and watercolour in the Wild Life Art workshop with Ruth Horton.
“All of our workshops sell out and we only wish the space available wasn’t limited,” says Alicia. “The best way to get in first is to become a Butter Factory Friend (BFF) or Pottery Member or sign up to our newsletter. BFF and pottery members have first priority for booking, followed by those receiving our e-newsletters.”
Don’d despair if a workshop of interest is sold out, you can join the waitlist or visit the Butter Factory Arts Centre to immerse yourself in a world of beautiful artwork and incredible talent.
Showcasing an array of creative works, the centre’s Artisan Store is an all-encompassing display of handcrafted wares from local artists. Here you’ll find a wealth of talent (and gift ideas), with ceramicists, jewellers, photographers, painters and more sharing their work.
And don’t miss the latest exhibitions where you can marvel at unique works and find inspiration for your own creative endeavours.
“We urge people to come in and say hello,” says Michael. “Don’t be afraid to stop by and see what potters do here. Our doors are open and we’re eager to share an appreciation for art with the public.”
So what are you waiting for?
Become a BFF and be the first to know.