Artist, Sarah Wallace-Smith is a creative with a passion and drive to see the creative ecosystem of Bendigo thrive. After completing her Fine Arts degree, Wallace-Smith approached Peter Valentine of Valentines Antiques about the possibility of setting up spaces for artists and creatives to sell their work amongst the heritage furnishings and décor.

Located on the View Street creative precinct, just a few doors down from Bendigo Art Gallery and Latrobe Art Institute, this enclave of six independent residence artists offer original works for sale and are open six days a week. The artists include Sarah Wallace-Smith, Lauren Starr, Alicia Thomas, and Sylvia Hewitt and Helena from Llanvair H.R Gallery.
Photos by Leon Schoots. Image from left right: Alicia Thomas in her studio space, Alicia Thomas drawing from life, Sarah Wallace-Smith artist materials in her studio, Sarah Wallace-Smith, Sylvia Hewitt in her studio space, Valentine Antiques interior.

We met up with Sarah and asked her some questions:

  1. Can you tell us about yourself, your creative practice and what you find special about Bendigo?

    “As a painter, I’m interested in a sensory interpretation of the Australian landscape and its inhabitants. Luckiest mother of four with a rural background, I am now happiest spending time on the farm or by the ocean, quietly observing flora & fauna, shifting light, rolling weather patterns and my response to those experiences. Back in the studio, these observations are often abstracted as they find their way onto canvas, but endeavour to maintain the fabric of the experience.”

    “Bendigo is a wonderful city with a country town feel. I love that I can bump into friends or be back in the bush only a few k’s out of town. A five minute commute to work is gold! The Bendigo arts community is a great draw card, as is the support of local government and businesses in the Arts…..oh, and the food!”

  2. What and Who are the Artists of View in Valentines Antiques?

    “There are six independent local Artists in Residence to be found creating and offering original works for sale six days a week. My studio, Art on View, exhibits my own, and the work of other local artists. So, you will find gorgeous, unique paintings, prints, soft furnishings and jewellery, all hand made. For those keen to have a go in a safe and supported environment, we can create unique experiences or offer lessons.”

    Wallace-Smith has also developed a business that places local artworks in organisations that can be enjoyed to enrich office spaces and exhibit the artwork to new audiences.

  3. Do you have any future plans you can divulge with us now?

    “We are super excited about plans to activate Valentine’s Laneway. We will be able to offer the space to artists to exhibit work and run outdoor events, so watch this space!” More information on what’s on will be published here.

  4. What other projects do you have on the go?

    “I’m super excited about a collaboration with an amazing fashion designer, who is creating gorgeous scarves out of my paintings. They should arrive soon… in good time for Christmas!”

    The artists in residence at Valentines are preparing for their first group exhibition in the Board room @ Valentines, from Friday 12th November 25th November.

    “Craving a fresh start in the midst of a pandemic, four of us have chosen to align with the seasons, to express our own interpretation of Spring and new beginnings. Works will include still life, new life and abstraction.
    Visitors to the exhibition will also have the chance to see studio spaces, where the original work is created and purchase work at a special, ‘exhibition dates only’ discounted price…. perfect timing for Christmas shopping.
    Or find ‘the pollinator’ for the chance to win a free coffee from Valentine’s Café.”

  5. What inspires your creative practice?

    “Mental head space is probably #1, but mostly just hard work, exploring themes and problem solving. If I waited for inspiration, I don’t think I’d get very far!”

  6. What is important for a dynamic creative industry in Bendigo (ideas/suggestions/thoughts)?

    “Strengthening the arts precinct here, with top notch local art experiences and commercial outlets. This requires more collaboration between local businesses, Council and artists to get work ‘out there in the community’. It would be beneficial for artists wanting to expand their client base to be included in dialogue with V-Line and Qantas and the Visitors centre as we need to connect to our tourists more. Supporting/mentoring & offering opportunity the next generation of artists coming through schools, TAFE and LaTrobe.”

Photo by Leon Shoots. Beautiful hand dyed silk textiles by Helena from Llanvair H.R Gallery.