PHOTO: Ana will finally have more time to practise what she teaches.
Local artist Ana Robson says she is excited to be setting up her own creative space in the St Patrick’s Hall Supper Room but that it is taking a while compared to what her neighbours achieved right across the street 140 years ago.
“I took over the building ten weeks ago,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of cleaning, I’m getting there but I’m really aware that it took the Brigidine nuns just seventeen days to set up a school!”
Ana has taken time out from her role as a high school art teacher – which she did for nine years in Gilgandra, Coonamble, Brewarrina and Gulargambone – to focus on her own work and to offer art courses to the wider community.
Having lived in the region most of her life, Ana says she believes there is untapped interest in what she can share, even if it has taken quite a few years to get to this point.
“I grew up twelve miles from Gulargambone on the Box Ridge Road,” she said. “I did art when I was a kid and I really enjoyed it at school but when I left I didn’t see art as a job.”
Despite having a grandmother in Melbourne who was a painter, Ana has taken the long road to being a professional artist.
“When I left school I didn’t see art as a job so I studied graphic design at Randwick Tech. I worked in graphic design and advertising for a few years, not just as a creative but also in the project management side.”
In 2005 she returned to her art, studying at Sydney’s National Art School (NAS) and taking up a six month exchange with Glasgow Art School in Scotland.
“It was fun – and it was cold,” laughs Ana. “At the NAS they worked from the principle that drawing was the basis for everything and once you master that you can then specialise in other mediums – Glasgow was more free and easy, more conceptual.”
When she returned to Australia, Ana completed a Bachelor of Education at the College of Fine Arts, specialising in Visual Art, before returning to look after her father who was suffering ill health.
“The reason I became a teacher was because I thought it would give me time to do my art but of course it didn’t,” she said. “So I thought I really needed to stop.”
In recent years Ana has taught adult workshops here in Coonamble thanks to Country Arts Support Program funding secured through the Arts Alive group.
“I’ve taught watercolours, acrylics, oils and life drawing, as well as one children’s art workshop with Outback Arts,” she said. “It really showed that people wanted more.”
“I get a lot of people saying they want to do workshops and I had no space to work at home.”
She says her new venue is “not a gallery, it’s a workspace for myself and a workshop space.”
So Ana’s SCOUT Art Space is almost set to go and, after a trial run with three artist friends on the weekend, she is preparing to call for registrations for a five-week introduction to oil painting.
“It’s not necessarily the style you’ll work in, its a traditional way of painting but its a good way to learn about how to apply oils in layers, how to mix oils, and clean your brushes as well as learning about transparent and opaque layers, and warm and cool colours.”
At the same time Ana will be launching a survey to find out what local people are interested in and how and when they want it to be delivered – from weekend intensives to regular weekly classes for themselves or their children.
Ana will be holding an opening party for her new SCOUT Artspace in Tooloon Street on Friday 17 November, complete with an exhibition of works inspired by “things found on walks around Coonamble with my dog.”
And for the record, the Supper Room’s new identity is thanks to Ana’s dog ‘Scout’ – as well as the fact that the word means ‘to make a search and discover’.
Use the QR code to tell Ana how you’d like to scout out your artistic talents.