HOW often we hear members of the local arts community decrying the limited public funding for culture in our fair city, but it is all too rare that we hear a call for private patronage.A dedicated group of Canberrans who belong to the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society Canberra Inc. has proved to be one of the shining exceptions to this rule, with a program of creative events and lectures for their membership that also sees them supporting young and emerging artists with one-off grants to help them with their practice.
Late last week I was invited over to the Canberra Glassworks to witness the presentation of a $1,000 ADFAS award to Annette Blair, a young glass artist who is just back from the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle and is considered one of the rising stars in her medium.
Canberra Glassworks Creative Director Clare Belfrage, introduced Blair’s work to the ADFAS members, explaining that while Blair had been trained in classical forms and portraiture, she was now turning to domestic objects and vessels in her work.
Blair went on to describe the different techniques involved in producing her multi-layered, mostly monochrome vessels, currently in preparation for an exhibition at Canberra’s Beaver Galleries, and featuring the faces of her own grandparents. Blowing a vessel, she said was very different from making a hammer in glass, as she had for one of the works she indicated.
Also present at the Glassworks was the 2012 ADFAS winner, Melinda Willis, whose “Resonance II,” digital print on hand-sanded mirror, slumped and cold-worked float glass, was selected into this year’s competitive Ranamok Glass Prize currently on show at the Glassworks.Willis, who has just won a major Victorian glass prize, showed the ADFAS visitors some of her new pieces as she explained the complexities of large-scale flatbed printing onto mirror, telling them that her $1,000 dollars had come at a very good time for her.
Belfrage told those present both young artists were “incredibly passionate about what they did” and were getting out into the world to learn and to contribute to teaching and further study. In the workshop both were producing “deeply considered work.”
In handing over a certificate to Blair, ADFAS president, Janie McOmish said it was “wonderful to help such a dynamic young artist.”
ADFAS members told CityNews that through their subscriptions, they have supported many enterprises with the arts, some of the more unusual being hearing assistance for young people with special needs who wanted to listen to the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.
This year’s ADFAS Canberra lectures have ranged from “The Art of Walking, from High Heels to Slippers” to “King George IV, The Greatest Royal Collector of Art” and the next one, available to members only, to be held on October 7, will be “Hedonistic Paris: Art, Life and Culture of Paris during the Jazz Age 1920 – 1930”.
Those interested in joining should phone 6295 3501 or email email@example.com