Ballarat artists showcase a diverse range of arts in new SHEILAs Reclaimed exhibition

Ballarat’s sheilas are a creative bunch.

Twenty six female artists have banded together to mount an exhibition at Fairbanks Eye Gallery titled SHEILAs Reclaimed – with SHEILAS standing for Strong, Honest, Exceptional, Inspirational Lady Artists.

The group sprang from the Soldiers Hill Artist Collective when it was decided that a group of women would hold an exhibition.

Their initial pitch was knocked back but the owner of Fairbanks Eye Gallery asked if they would put together the first exhibition for the newly-renovated gallery.

SHEILAS: Abigail Robertson, Sylvia Hollis, Jan Leishman, Mardi Featherston and Margot Hamilton will display their artwork. Picture: Kate Healy.

SHEILAS: Abigail Robertson, Sylvia Hollis, Jan Leishman, Mardi Featherston and Margot Hamilton will display their artwork. Picture: Kate Healy.

With 26 artists exhibiting in the small space, it was decided each could have a 1m square space to show their work.

The diverse art mediums range from bronze-work to tapestry, indigenous weaving to oil painting, Venetian masks to sculpture and more.

“The idea to showcase the wide variety of exciting art produced by women came from a number of artists who are also members of the Soldiers Hill Artists Collective (SHAC),” said tapestry weaver Jan Leishman.

“Art practice tends to be a solitary occupation, as artists need time to nurture the creative process, to gather, to ponder, to formulate and record. But it is also essential to have a way of coming together to draw strength, purpose and inspiration from others of like mind and practice.”

Abigail Robertson is usually a painter, but will display a pair of ornate brass fairy wrens at the exhibition.

“It’s really inspiring to be around women who have a passion for art like you do. It’s a great support network,” she said of her involvement with the SHEILAs.

After being retrenched 20 years ago, Margot Hamilton decided the only thing she wanted to do was make decoupage Venetian masks, so she went to England and Italy to learn the craft.

Her craft has seen her work for the National Gallery in both Canberra and Melbourne.

“I just love Italian renaissance paintings, and if I fall in love with one I have to use it in my art,” she said.

SHEILAs Reclaimed is at Fairbanks Eye Gallery, 917a Sturt Street, until July 29.