I am a member of my local art and craft group here in Sydney. They have been an important part of my creative journey since 1997, when I discovered they held art classes at night that I could attend to see if I had any ability to draw or paint.
I moved into a different area when I married, so I wasn’t a local. Because we spent so much time commuting (up until I left my job to have my daughter, I worked an hour and a half away from home), I didn’t even know more than a couple of my new neighbours. I am not a regular church goer, and because of my arthritis, sport is not really an option – so that removes two great ways to become part of a community. At home for two years with my baby, I was going a bit potty and needed an outlet – a mental health break I called it – and was lucky to find The group.
I started just going to the art classes once a week on a Tuesday night. Then I started to go to the monthly meeting and met some of the wonderful women who take part in the craft groups on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Age didn’t matter, young and old work together, have fun, create, and share. I had found a community that welcomed me and made me feel a part of this area for the first time, over a cup of tea and some cross stitch!
Community groups like This one are not as numerous as they used to be, which is a great pity. But with so many people having to or choosing to work, not so many people have time to go and take part in community activities.
All of the members are enthusiastic about their creative endeavours be it crafts, pottery or art. We share our knowledge with each other. If you don’t know how to crochet and someone else does they will sit and teach you. Want to learn to quilt, they can show you how. The kids art classes are extremely popular as are the pottery groups and classes. The women of the Fibre group do a lot of charity work, providing baby quilts, chemo hats and shawls for hospitals and raising funds through sales of arts and crafts created by the talented members.
I now take part in a lot of the activities at the group. It is where I go to play with clay, work with pastels and on a Tuesday morning have that cuppa while I knit or stitch and catch up on all the news. (I also now create the newsletter for the group, which is quite a task but everyone appreciates it so much it is worth the effort.) I help out in the office and I find it a very satisfying experience all round.
If it wasn’t for The group and the knowledge I gained attending classes there, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to attend college last year to obtain my Certificate IV in Visual Arts and Contemporary Crafts. Their continued support whilst I was full-time at college was fantastic.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me to be careful getting involved in a community group, not to sign up for too much responsibility. But if some people don’t do that, these community groups will die out, as will the knowledge the older members have of crafts that are not so popular any more.
Nothing beats hand made!
Do you belong to a community group? Are they disappearing in your area? I’d love to hear how arts and crafts are doing in your part of the world?