Anne Kempton is an artist and gallery owner who unashamedly mixes passion with business.
The owner of Timeless Textiles Gallery on Hunter Street in Newcastle East, she operates the only commercial textile gallery in Australia and draws world-class talent to exhibit on a regular basis.
Now in her eighth year as a gallery owner, Kempton has not had to solicit artists to show for the last seven years: they want to come, and they find her.
She exhibits four international, four national and four local fibre artists over a year, and is booked out until 2020.
“It’s almost like it has legs of its own,” she says, “and I am running along behind it.
“I am astounded at the people who do exhibit here. In the past, I used to look in textile books. I never dreamt some of the people I used to look at would exhibit here.”
She also draws visitors and clientele from around Australia and New Zealand, as the international artists are often involved in their only exhibition in this part of the world.
Three years ago Kempton moved her gallery from Islington to Newcastle East. Despite the interruptions of the construction in the city, the move has been good, helping create a smart art precinct with The Lock-Up creative space (located in the same building) and Curve Gallery (across the street).
She is also a giver, organising major fund-raising campaigns for women’s social causes through the collective creation of artworks by community members that are sold to raise funds.
In 2016 she played a major part in Flying Free, an International Women’s Day project. People were invited to create a bird from a pattern designed by British fibre artist and bird maker Abigail Brown. More than 700 birds were created, raising over $30,000 that was donated to local women’s refuges.
Earlier this year she and artist Wilma Simmons launched the Out of Wood project for the 2019 International Women’s Day, with women encouraged to create a fibre artwork on a piece of recycled hardwood donated by Round 2 Timbers of Hamilton.
“That’s what excites me, building the communities as well as showcasing beautiful fibre art,” Kempton says.
That’s what excites me, building the communities as well as showcasing beautiful fibre art.- Anne Kempton
By reputation, she is also able to attract the rock stars of fibre art. Earlier this year Hungarian artist Eszter Bornemisza exhibited at Timeless Textiles and ran a workshop.
Innovative German feltmaker Charlotte Sehmisch will visit the gallery in July, conducting a three-day workshop at the gallery July 14-16 on three-dimensional surface structures and disc hats. The related exhibit, Subterranean, features nine Australian textile artists who have produced works in felt to honour the work of Sehmisch.
The calendar for the rest of the year maintains the high caliber of visiting artists. On the horizon: Sophie Munns, a former Novocastrian now calling Brisbane home, who works with seeds in her artwork (August); Cathy J Coupland, who will lead a workshop on stitched masterpieces (September); and Ukrainian artist Natalya Brashovetskaya, who will lead a workshop on shoes and bags (September).
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