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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

New lease of life for empty shops

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Four Tweed artists hope their new creative venture will stimulate Murwillumbah’s economy.

Belinda Smith, Ellie Beck, Jo Olive and Kathy Egan recently formed an artists’ collective called Hey Maker! in response to the growing number of vacant shops in Murwillumbah’s town centre.

The collaboration of CBD landlords and local artists in Byron Bay and Lismore in ‘pop-up’ ventures to make use of the stores till they are leased prompted the four to make good use of empty shopfronts to attract attention and benefit the community.

On Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April, the collective will conduct a free workshop called ‘Potatoprintpopup’ at Verge/Upside, 13 Queen Street, Murwillumbah, from 10am till 3pm.

Using potatoes supplied by local farmers, participants will cut and carve designs to create stamps and print on recycled materials; the results will be used for an installation of work on the shop wall.

The collective’s aim is to highlight that art is fun and can be made from simple everyday materials including vegetables and recycled boxes and cardboard. Take-home kits will be available, so participants can continue their crafty fun at home.

Collective member Ellie Beck said the group aimed to raise awareness of ‘needing to support local creatives, as well as keeping our town alive by shopping locally’.

‘Similarly to other towns across Australia that have had to face the situation of renew, revive or die, Murwillumbah needs some fun, hands-on acts of creative artiness,’ Ms beck said.

The Verge office is occupied by a landscape architect (Verge) and a graphic designer (Upside) who are sympathetic to their cause and are willing to let the pop-up be staged in their space.

The group hopes the Potatoprintpopup event will encourage Murwillumbah’s commercial landlords to participate in future pop-up events.

For more info visit [email protected]


Image: Artists Kathy Egan and Belinda Smith from the new creative collective called Hey Maker! want to teach Murwillumbah locals to use potato-print ‘pop-up’ art installations on empty shopfronts to attract attention and benefit the community. Photo Jeff Dawson

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