Exiles from Foster St: Shed artists band together

The Lost and Found Office duo of Bobby Cerini and Ben Chapman at the new, Lonsdale St studio/gallery they're sharing with a number of other former residents of the Queanbeyan Artists Shed.

The Lost and Found Office duo of Bobby Cerini and Ben Chapman at the new, Lonsdale St studio/gallery they're sharing with a number of other former residents of the Queanbeyan Artists Shed.

SOME of Queanbeyan's top artists are vowing to stick together following news that the iconic Queanbeyan arts hub, The Artists Shed on Foster Street, is all but sold.

The Shed, which has fostered creatives and artists in Queanbeyan for the past 20 years, has been on the market for almost two years, but is now under offer through local agent Ian McNamee and Partners.

However long-time Shed resident and local visual artists Ric Bennett and Dennis Mortimer, along with Ying Xhang, ceramicist Alicia Kane and furniture design specialists The Lost and Found Office (made up of Bobby Cerini and Ben Chapman) are all packing up shop and moving across the border to a new gallery space on Lonsdale Street in Braddon.

Surrounded by other design stores and galleries, the new location was a way to keep some of the collaboration and collegiate culture of The Shed alive, according to the Lost and Found Office's Ben Chapman.

"I'd say the sale of the Shed has been a bit demoralising, but from that has come a kind of unifying momentum to build something positive out of that," Mr Chapman said.

"The idea just came out of opportunity really," his partner, Bobby Cerini added. "You've got a range of different creative people co-located at the Shed. It's a bit like the office water cooler conversation in that you're constantly interacting with people in different ways.

"That started us thinking that we've got this community that's going through a state of transformation. We don't know where that transition will take people, but it feels like an important marker in going from one established place into the future."

The new studio/gallery space celebrated its official launch last night, and while Chapman and Cerini were relative newcomers to the long history at the Artists Shed, they said it had helped foster their creative ambitions, as it has for many other local artists over the past two decades.

"It's been inspiring really to see the variety of work that has emerged there," Mr Chapman said.

"It's incubated generations of artists coming through The Shed," Ms Cerini added. "It's fascinating to count the number of different design artists and creatives that have been through there and graduated on to running bigger businesses and galleries."

The team at The Lost and Found Office are also incorporating the work of their fellow Queanbeyan Artists Shed creatives into their own textiles and furniture design work, turning the visual artworks of their studio colleagues into textile prints to turn into bespoke lampshades or upholstered armchairs and sofas.

They said the warm, living-room feel of the shared, upper-level Braddon gallery brought together the diverse works of the Queanbeyan artists in an interesting way.

"For our work, which is design and home wares orientated, to see it in a context with pictures on the wall and plants on the window sill and the bric-a-brac of everyday life, I think it helps people connect with [the fact that] there's art in everything," Ms Cerini said.

Meanwhile, McNamee's real estate agent George Miller told The Queanbeyan Age this week that he expected the sale process at The Shed to be finalised within two months. He couldn't comment on the future use of the site.

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