Saturday, January 27, 2018

That Little Art Place
Guest Editor: Lisa Bendeich

In late 2017 I became aware of an Art & Craft Expo that was held in the small town of Singleton in the Upper Hunter Valley (approximately two and half hours drive north of Sydney).

The area became known to white settlers when in 1820 John Howe led an expedition to the fertile valley of St Patrick's Plains. Many settlers followed and began raising stock on their grants of land. Within a generation the pastoral district was flourishing and traders also came to establish their livelihood. Hence a township grew on the banks of the Hunter River, taking its name from one of the original discovering party, Benjamin Singleton.

John Street, Singleton, in about 1900.

For the first 100 years of Singleton's history agriculture dominated the region's commercial activity due to the rich flood plains of the Hunter river.

20 Victoria Street, Singleton (NSW).

However, the discovery of vast resources of coal in the area transformed the Singleton region into the State's largest producer of coal.

Rix's Creek open cut coal mine near Singleton NSW.

More recently the Lone Pine Barracks, an Australian Army base, was located just 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) south of Singleton. The barrack is home to the Australian Army School of Infantry, Special Forces Training Centre, Defence Support Group Singleton and other regular support services. The Royal Australian Infantry Corps Museum is also located within the barracks. The shire has now a three-fold industrial profile.

Vickers Mk VIA Light Tank.

Wherever you trek through the Singleton township and you talk about "Art", there is one person whose name is constantly mentioned - Lisa Bendeich. Our company, Art Quill & Co, even had a stall at one of her annual Art & Craft Expo, selling scarves, ArtCloth, artworks on cloth etc. We asked Lisa to be a guest editor on this blogspot. She agreed and below is her story. I know you will enjoy it as much as I have.


That Little Art Place
Guest Editor: Lisa Bendeich

Along with my husband Trevor and daughters Chelsea and Courtney we own and operate "That Little Art Place" in the country town of Singleton in the Hunter Valley Region of NSW.

Lisa and Trevor in front of their new shop.

We stock fine-art supplies with all the major brands, such as Winsor & Newton, Liquitex, Atelier - just to name a few! We cater for the beginner to the professional artist.

Our shop mascot, Artie, goes to lots of different activities around Singleton. Everybody loves Artie.

Since opening our business we have always tried to be very proactive, within our own business and the community, offering old fashion service, which includes "good service and advice" as well as selling good quality products at excellent prices. We introduced - "try before you buy" activities - where we invite customers to come in and try the products to see if they will work for them in their artwork, before buying a product which might not normally suit. These activities have always proved to be highly successful.

"A try before you buy" activity in progress with pen markers.

We take these activities on the road, going to different venues such as art societies/art groups and of course, art galleries. We also put on mini expos where our Art Reps, from companies that we buy art supplies from, will come along and assist with demonstrations of products. This also gives the customer excellent support and product information. We also take along a mobile shop to give the customers an opportunity to buy products in their own environment.

"Imagination Box" challenge.

We try and support artists rather than just selling products with no care factor at all. This is important to us: to treat people like we would want to be treated and doing it with genuine intentions. I think this was a famous line from a best selling book but in all seriousness, this has increased our customer range and we have made some really good friends in the process.

Newspaper competition.

The new year (2018) was kick started with moving into new premises, which now feels like home. It's a new start to a new year and hopefully we will be there for many years to come. With the new year and new shop, we have our first Ambassador for Winsor & Newton Brushmakers, a young lady named Cristyn Franks, who will give a few workshops and offer advice on pen markers etc. You never know, it may even lead to "Digital Art Workshops" down the track!

Our biggest adventure, however, was an Art & Craft Expo (changing the name in 2017 to That Little Expo). I realized that the talent in our communities was not showcased. Within each community, and it doesn't matter how big that community is, there is always someone doing art or craft. There were lots of big shows in Sydney, but nothing like that in the upper Hunter. So I started to plan such an event. It wasn't easy, as being a business we couldn't get any grants or any help, but I didn't let that stop me! I came up against a lot of stumbling blocks and just ploughed on. How was I going to fund this event?

Being an artist myself, I fell back on what I knew and I started teaching art like a demon possessed. I already taught classes but I increased them and used the money generated to pay for the event. The Singleton Showground gave me support by providing the venue at a very reasonable rate, which I very much appreciated. The first year saw a successful event - we had 60 stalls and 3 demonstrators. We hung 247 artworks from Singleton and surrounding areas and sold $850 worth of art.

Kids doing an art "shoot out" at the Art & Craft Expo. It was very busy with three sections, and 52 kids all up!

The kids got straight into the "shoot out" and they were all grinners and winners.

Last year the Singleton Art & Craft Expo became huge! We had 90 stalls, 10 demonstrators, and we had 52 people doing an artist "shoot out", which was fantastic to see.

Look at these happy faces - they loved it!

We hung 230 artworks, but also had a large number of plants, recycled art and Huon Pine from Tasmania on display. We sold $1,100 worth of art. We had an opening night which saw over 100 people in attendance and they just didn't want to go home. The atmosphere was magical!

PCYC and the "Little Kickers" came along as well. The kids loved it!

The next day saw 5,000 people come through the gates - which was awesome! As an organizer, when you get those numbers you know you are doing something right! We also gave donations to the "Good Samaritan Donkey Sanctuary" $485, PCYC $100, Little Kickers $100, Singleton Town Band/Singleton High School Band $400 and Mt Pleasant Kitchen Hire.

Coming into the market area.

That Little Expo saw community groups join in - such as the Singleton Mens Shed and the Ladies Day Craft Bulga group.

Stalls under the football grandstand.

We had a few other interested artists and stallholders, but couldn't fit them in the undercover areas. I did a lot of networking within the Newcastle Area, with a couple of groups and this paid off. We had stallholders from Quirindi down to Wangi Wangi.

Stalls in the tea rooms. I think I see Art Quill from Wangi Wangi.

I am very proud to be able to bring this expo to the people of this region. I have a very small army of people to assist with the event. They don't want or expect payment. They just do it for us and for their community.

Market area.

Like us, we don't need a ticket tape parade or medals for what we have done, but to see communities from all areas come together, selling their quality unique products and enjoying the day is payment enough.

Looking down into market area.

I will do it again this year and I am already thinking of changes such as bussing people to the expo from out of the immediate area and hiring a really big marquee for more undercover stalls. They are my two major priorities for this year.

Market area.

The most important priority though is to get more artists and stallholders to attend in order to showcase to their communities the talent they have living amongst them and also to give an insight into the artistic composition of their communities.

There will be other cosmetic changes of course - learning from the previous years' experience. My motto on every publication I compose is - "Showcasing talented people within our communities" and it still applies today with this post.

I will leave you with images of that wonderful, magical opening night when over 100 people turned up and none of them wanted to go home. They enjoyed the art on display, good company and the relaxed atmosphere so much that they wanted to immerse themselves in this atmosphere all night. If you want to contact me on any matter please email me at - Lisa.

Thank you Marie-Therese for the opportunity to inform your readers about my "little" story.
With best wishes,
Lisa Bendeich of "That Little Art Place".


Bree Bendeich said...

Lisa has gone above and beyond for the artists and makers of Singleton. We would be nowhere without her selfless efforts! She deserves a medal and flowers daily x :)

Ross Weppler said...

What a great event. Well done Lisa. It is showing the area just how many creative people are about.

Pat Rearden said...

The expo was so much fun,educational and all round great event. Lisa and family put on an amazing expo. Always so selfless it what she does and brings so much happiness to so many people. Thanks Lisa, Trevor and girls. God Bless you all xxxx