by Phoebe Repeti

Weaving with Tarni
Image: Home West Festival Day 2022 by Liza Moscatelli, Mosca Media Australia

Spring Making

5 September to 16 December 2023
The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre

We’re celebrating creativity, collaboration and cultural exchange this Spring at Blacktown Arts!

This Spring Making, we’re joined by our regular favourites and a range of exciting western Sydney artist collectives to present a program of immersive workshops.

Yarn with local First Nations Elders at Elders in Residence on Friday mornings and delve into First Nations weaving techniques and protocol with Ngiyampaa and Guringai artist Tarni Eastwood at
Weaving a Connection to Culture, a brand-new 6-week program.

Be guided by 2023 Archibald Prize finalist and mentor Patrice Wills at
Open Studio on Wednesdays, and Capturing Character, a special one-off portraiture painting workshop.

Get to know western Sydney collectives from our Constellations exhibition in a series of creative workshops across dance, textiles and writing with Dance Makers Collective, The Adorned Collective, and The Finishing School.

And finally, gather the family for a morning of fun and creativity at
Family Day with We Are Studios.

See full Spring line up here.

Elders in Residence

“If I could come to The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre every day, I would.”
– Uncle Wes Marne

Get to know local First Nations Elders Uncle Wes Marne, Uncle Greg Simms, Uncle Danny Eastwood and Uncle John Farrington on Friday mornings at Elders in Residence.

Acknowledging our place on Darug land, Elders in Residence is the place to connect with First Nations culture. Grab a cuppa and some damper, and have a yarn with these knowledge holders and valued members of the local community.

All welcome.
Damper and beverages provided.

Fridays, 8 September to 22 September, and
13 October to 15 December

10.30 am to 12.30 pm

*Please note that sometimes our Elders have other commitments and, as such, who is present may change. You are welcome to contact us directly on 9839 6558 the week of your desired session to confirm who will be in attendance.

Image: Elders in Residence by Eliya Cohen, Mosca Media Australia

Open Studio

Be a part of our thriving creative community at Open Studio!

Join 2023 Archibald Prize finalist and mentor Patrice Wills at our established Open Studio program. Patrice brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you develop your skills and support you with your individual projects.

Bring along an existing project or start something new in a welcoming, social, and supportive environment.

Now is the time to get involved, with participating artists boasting a growing list of achievements including Creative Arts Fund recipiencies, Blacktown City Art Prize finalist-picks, and recent group exhibitions From The Studio and Snapshot.

All experience levels are welcome.

Ages 16+
Basic materials provided, canvas available for purchase.

Wednesdays, 6 September to 20 September, and
11 October to 13 December
10.30 am to 1.00 pm

Two women look at an iPad togetherImage: Open Studio 2022, courtesy of Blacktown Arts

Weaving a Connection to Culture

Join Ngiyampaa and Guringai artist Tarni Eastwood for a brand-new 6-week weaving program.

Guided by First Nations protocol, Tarni shares knowledge on traditional and contemporary First Nations weaving techniques in this respectful and welcoming space.

Connect with community and culture and learn how to weave ropes, bracelets and baskets with Tarni’s own Nula Weaving hand-dyed raffia. Featuring special guest Aunty Roz Webb.

All ages and all abilities welcome. Parents and carers, feel free to bring your little ones along.

Materials provided.

Attendees must book for the program in full.

6-week program

Week 1 – Introduction and rope making
Week 2 – Bracelet weaving
Week 3 – Basket weaving
Week 4 – Starting a basket
Week 5 – Your chosen piece
Week 6 – Discussion and reflection

If you have any questions about the program or ticketing, please email artscentre@blacktown.nsw.gov.au.

Thursdays, 12 October to 16 November
10.30 am to 12.30 pm

Weaving with Tarni
Image: Home West Festival 2022, by Liza Moscatelli, Mosca Media Australia

Capturing Character with Patrice Wills

Join 2023 Archibald Prize finalist and Open Studio mentor Patrice Wills to capture the character of your subject in this portraiture workshop.

Be inspired by Patrice’s Archibald Prize portrait of local Elder Uncle Wes Marne, and learn skills and techniques to paint your own portrait of a special loved one.

Ages 16+
Materials provided.

Saturday 16 September
10.30 am to 1.00 pm

Patrice Wills Capturing Character
Image: Patrice Wills, 2023 Archibald Prize, courtesy of the artist

Family Day with We Are Studios

Family Day is back, and this time, We Are Studios are here to start the fun!

Round up the family and come to The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre for a morning of collaboration and creativity led by artists from We Are Studios.

Get hands-on and try something new, and while you’re there, check out WE ARE, an exhibition from We Are Studios.

Contribute to a large-scale artwork, make a special card for a loved one and create your own crown or jewellery using unique materials. Plus, pick up a special treasure hunt activity to discover the WE ARE exhibition.

We Are Studios is a fully disability-led, inclusive studio that empowers artists with disability to reach their creative potential by creating space to thrive.

All ages and abilities welcome. A dedicated soft space will be available.

Materials provided.

Saturday 21 October
10.30 am to 12.30 pm

Image: Courtesy Liza Moscatelli, Mosca Media Australia.

Celebrating with collectives from Constellations

Dance with Dance Makers Collective

Join us this Spring for a contemporary dance workshop with Dance Makers Collective (DMC).

Be guided by DMC to discover dance techniques, respond collectively to the Constellations exhibition and express yourself through movement in this safe and inclusive space.

Adults and young people ages 13+
All skill levels welcome.

Saturday 18 November 
10.30 am to noon

Dance MakersImage: Dance Makers Collective, courtesy of the collective

Write with The Finishing School | Writing Collaboratively

Finesse your writing skills with writers from The Finishing School.

Join Eda Gunaydin to unlock the potential of collective storytelling. Learn strategies to merge writing approaches and explore collaborative writing methods and styles.

Ages 16+
Materials provided.

Saturday 2 December
10.30 am to 1.00 pm

Finishing Collective
Image:  Eda Gunaydin, courtesy of the artist

Make with The Adorned Collective | Textile Craft

Join The Adorned Collective to create your own textile artwork.

Adorn your square of fabric with beads, buttons, sequins, paint, and more or recreate it into something new entirely like a puppet or sculptural piece.

Take your special artwork home or add it to a collaborative work as part of Constellations, our final exhibition for 2023.

Ages 8+
Materials provided.

Saturday 9 December
10.30 am to noon

More from Constellations to come soon.

Creative play,
Image: The Adorned Collective, photo by Jacquie Manning

Artist Bios

Exploring the relational intersections between people, place and paint, Patrice aims to capture her experience of what is seen and felt, through the process of painting.

The work delves into the overlaps between personal response to places and embedded human histories. These ideas emerge visually through the interconnectedness of the figure and the land, sensitive portraits and moody landscapes, captured through colour, tone, and an intimist sensibility.

Patrice has an extensive professional background working and training in the realms of visual arts, education, and community health. Patrice brings this life experience to her work which reflects and explores the human condition and spirit, utilizing a painterly materiality often to fuse the figurative and the abstract.

Patrice exhibits regularly and is often selected as a finalist in major art awards including the 2023 Archibald Prize after winning the Blackstone works on paper prize and Hunters Hill small works in 2022. Her work is accrued in private and public collections.

Image: Patrice Wills, courtesy the artist

Tarni Eastwoood

Tarni Eastwood is a Ngiyampaa and Guringai artist and curator based in western Sydney. She has a multidisciplinary arts practice working in photography, video, painting, weaving, sculpture and installation. Tarni emphasises the importance of weaving groups through its contribution to revitalise the culture whilst providing a safe space to pass down creative knowledge.

Image: Tarni Eastwood, courtesy of Wirrim Studio

Uncle Wes Marne AM is a Bigambul man and community elder who has lived in Mount Druitt for the past 45 years. He is a storyteller, poet and custodian of his grandfather’s Creation and Dreamtime stories.

Uncle Wes is a published author, and has toured his work at Sydney Festival (2016), Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival (2017), Way Out West Children’s Festival at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (2017), and recently he published Through Old Eyes (2022), his first book of poetry for his 100th Birthday. In December 2022, he received an Honorary Fellowship from Western Sydney University for service as an educator and champion of Aboriginal culture; an advocate for vulnerable young people and a pillar of the greater western Sydney community.

Uncle Wes comes from a long line of storytellers and has been working with children, primary and high schools, universities, gaols, social housing and justice to share his love of culture and stories throughout all the community.

Image: Uncle Wes, Elders in Residence by Eliya Cohen, Mosca Media Australia

Uncle Greg Simms is a respected Aboriginal Community Elder of Mount Druitt and the greater western Sydney region, with ties to the Gundungurra (water dragon people) of the Blue Mountains and the Gadigal (whale people) of the Dharug nation.

Uncle Greg is an activist for reconciliation, a traditional woodcarver, a storyteller and an Aboriginal cultural educator. He always engages young people and Elders in his processes, championing intergenerational knowledge sharing and understanding. In December 2021, Uncle Greg received an Honorary Fellowship from Western Sydney University in recognition of his role as a leading educator of Aboriginal culture, and for his contribution to Western Sydney University.

Image: Uncle Greg, Elders in Residence by Eliya Cohen, Mosca Media Australia.

Uncle Danny Eastwood is descended from the Ngemba group of Western New South Wales. His mother came from Brewarrina and he was born and grew up in the Eora area of the Gadigal Nation. For the past 43 years, he has been a proud member of the Darug area of Western Sydney.

As a painter and cartoonist, he has produced numerous works which tell the story of his people and Country, including his contributions to Koori Mail over the last 30 years and his public art which can be found all over Sydney.

In 1992, Uncle Danny won the NSW NAIDOC Award. He shared the National NAIDOC Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award, receiving 1st prize in the NSW Parliament Award and the NAIDOC Poster Award in 1993. Uncle Danny is responsible for building and making the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial to honour Aboriginal service people at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney.

Image: Uncle Danny, Elders in Residence by Eliya Cohen, Mosca Media Australia.

Uncle John Farrington was born in the town of Young, part of the Wiradjuri Nation, the people of the 3 rivers. He was taken to Sydney at the age of 9 along with his siblings and put into the custody of the NSW Government as a Ward of the State. He has lived and worked in Sydney since and connected with the people of the Dharug Nation as he struggled to find family, his roots, his identity and his connection to Country, which is now linked to the Gamilaraay People through his father.

Uncle John has been active in sharing his stories and experience through Dharug community meetings and gatherings. Through this space, he shares his remarkable life and his continual journey to find family and reconnect. He loves to share documents as well as photos that he has discovered on his quest for answers. Uncle John loves to meet people, tell them his stories and share his Culture, while highlighting and encouraging the strength and survival spirit that may help others to overcome the past.

Image: Uncle John, Elders in Residence by Eliya Cohen, Mosca Media Australia

We Are Studios was established in 2023 by a community of Artists with disability who believe that disability inclusion can and should start with them.

The first of their kind, We Are Studios is a fully disability-led, inclusive studio that empowers artists with disability to reach their creative potential by creating space to thrive.

Their team has experienced first-hand the barriers people living with disability face in accessing accessible arts education, professional development pathways, and the opportunities needed to build a thriving and sustainable creative practice.

They address these barriers by providing mentorship, networking and professional development opportunities to creatives with disability across western Sydney and advocating for their inclusion within the contemporary creative arts sector.

Adorned CollectiveThe Adorned Collective meet and work on Dharug Country Western Sydney, and are based at Parramatta Artist Studios; Rydalmere. Adorned is a community group of artists and craftspeople from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who nurture connection through collaborative creative process and skill sharing workshops.

The collective supports artists and makers of all abilities and experiences by providing a reciprocal creative space, where sharing creative practice nurtures a culture of community connection.
The Adorned Collective was formed in 2015 with the support of Parramatta Artists’ Studios, WEAVE Parramatta and the Community Migrant Resource Centre. Adorned is a participant driven initiative that support artists, artisans, makers and craftspeople of all ages and abilities from culturally diverse backgrounds and experiences, by providing a friendly, culturally safe and accessible creative space.
The community of artists, artisans, makers and craftspeople participate fortnightly, in supported drop-in skill sharing workshops and public programs.

Within the workshops, participants collaborate and share creative process, stories and skills as a process of professional development and community capacity building.  The group serves to nurture friendships celebrate life, culture, diversity and difference whilst creating inclusive social and professional networks and opportunities for local creatives.

Adorned welcomes and supports First Nation, newly arrived, migrant, refugee and locally established people, through maintaining a culturally safe and accessible space.
Adorned welcomes and supports people who identify as women, queer, trans and non-binary by acknowledging and respecting queer and gender diverse community.
The Adorned collective includes local and remote participants (regional NSW and QLD) who hold past and present connection to Burramatta/ Parramatta.

Between 2015 and 2020, the Adorned collective has developed and exhibited solo and collaborative sculptures, wearable art, photographic, performance, installation and multimedia work.
As well as developing and exhibiting artwork, the Adorned artists utilize each exhibition and project as a way of engaging community through public programs and creative workshops.

Image: The Adorned Collective, photo by Jacquie Manning

Dance Makers Collective (DMC), based on Dharug country (western Sydney), is the only collective-led dance company in Australia. With a mission to build dance communities, DMC brings people together by working with and between dance theatre, contemporary dance and social dance, producing heartfelt dance works that reflect the diverse, personal experiences of Australians.

Established in 2012, DMC has presented 17 dance productions, in theatres, halls, galleries, parks, street corners, balconies, on YouTube and Instagram, in cities and towns in almost every state and territory. Recent highlights include a national regional tour of ‘The Rivoli’ (2022) and presenting two sold-out seasons in successive Sydney Festivals (2020/21).

We are a democratic organisation of independent artists who live the mantra the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are skilled performers, choreographers, producers, designers, educators and composers. We have worked/work with companies such as ADT, Marrugeku, Bangarra, Force Majeure, Tasdance, Chunky Move, Dancenorth and Restless Dance Theatre, and hundreds of independent artists. Our individual experiences and practices feed DMC, enriching the art we make and the services we offer to the community.

DMC is both a producer and a service organisation, and we do both exceptionally well. Our dedicated core membership of ten dance makers, who form the artistic directorate, co-design and deliver projects and programs in response to the needs of the wider community. It is our unique democratic structure, expansive network, openness, and commitment to shared practice that sets us apart. These qualities make DMC a nimble, resilient and impactful organisation shaping a better future for Australian dance.

Image: Dance Makers Collective, courtesy of the collective

Finishing School

The Finishing School is a collective of women writers dedicated to creative excellence and exploration.

They are inspired by and responsive to the communities and concerns of western Sydney, but their gaze extends far beyond its psychogeographic boundaries. The Finishing School have a radical commitment to making honest work. They individually pursue their own projects as well as collaborate with other writers and artists on literary projects, cross-artform installations and performances.


Image: Finishing School Collective, courtesy of the collective

Eda Gunaydin is a Turkish-Australian essayist whose writing explores class, race, diaspora and western Sydney. Her essays have appeared in The Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, The Age, and elsewhere. Her debut essay collection Root & Branch (NewSouth Publishing) was published in 2022. Root & Branch won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Matt Richell Prize for New Writer of the Year at the 2023 ABIAs.

Image: Eda Gunaydin, courtesy of the artist

Please note:

  • All materials are provided except for art smocks and aprons, so please consider bringing your own or wearing clothes that can get dirty if you’re a messy art maker!
  • No food or drink is currently available for purchase at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre. Feel free to bring your coffee or a snack while you are visiting The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.
  • Please note, Blacktown Arts does not facilitate private workshops for groups. If you would like to enquire about group bookings for Blacktown Arts programs, please contact us at artscentre@blacktown.nsw.gov.au
  • Click here to plan your visit to The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.

Presented by Blacktown Arts supported by Blacktown City Council and the NSW Government through Create NSW.