Stronger together

For an eclectic, handmade selection of quality artworks, jewellery, toys and homewares by local creators and artists, head to Creative Village at Charlestown Square.

This is a wonderland of gifts and tableware, fashion and bedlinen, of jewellery, artworks and anything in between. Creative Village certainly doesn’t offer the standard retail fare of a big shopping centre.

“As I was walking towards the shop this morning, I was stoked when I noticed our name on one of the big info signs, next to the likes of Myer and Kmart,” said Creative Village founder Leah Fawthrop. “

We are a group of about 30 local micro businesses. All our products are handmade or upcycled. “To see our name next to these big players is fantastic!

”The members of the collective take turns in running the store, while still being able to pursue their own artistic and creative passions.

“Everyone operates collaboratively in the store. Thus, as a group of artists and makers we get to have a retail space in the heart of a large shopping centre. And it works for the centre, because we are adding something special, products that you wouldn’t expect here,” Leah said.

Her own works are also available at Creative Village. She loves to experiment with textile design under her own brand, Colour Clouds. Her gorgeously vibrant patterns are inspired by nature, suggestive of orchids or hibiscus and make for lush and beautiful, yet utterly practical homewares and lifestyle products.

Lake Mac local Ellen Jane is selling her quirky art prints, greeting cards and stickers featuring animals, rainbows or plants (a penchant for cacti is noticeable). “From a very young age, I loved being creative. I want to make things that are fun and make people laugh,” she shared. Five years ago, she came across polymer clay while flipping through social media. “I hadn’t really been interested in sculpting, but this looked like fun, so I wanted to give it a go.”

Cue her handmade, bright, funky earrings, perfect to make a bold statement or to light up a rainy day.

Primary school teacher Kelsie Allan had been channelling her creative juices into big projects like theatre productions, into quilting and large-scale patchworks.

“But after I had my kids, it all became too time consuming,” Kelsie said. She struggled with postnatal depression and her mental health counsellor gave her a notebook to record her thoughts.

“That notebook was the turning point. I didn’t write in it, I started drawing. I just loved that calming feeling of the felt tip pen on paper.”

She started out with Zentangles, free flowing patterns to fill spaces, but soon began to experiment with the more symmetrical, circular shapes of mandalas, then added pyrography into the mix, a wood burning technique she uses for one-of-a-kind mandala patterned cheese boards and salad servers.

Diana Boyd from Seeyasista, another ‘creative villager’, is an avid collector of anything from left-behind beach or fishing paraphernalia to discarded clothing or building materials.

“I find something, and a creative process starts in my mind. I don’t know where it’s coming from but I’m always thinking about how I can use things in a different manner.

“I love boats, I love living near the water so there is often a nautical theme to my works, combined with a certain quirkiness, and a sense of movement.”

There’s a lot more makers and artists at Creative Village than we have space for in this article.

So if you love buying local, handmade, unique and sustainable treasures, add this one-of-a-kind shopping destination to your must-visit bucket list.

Creative Village is currently located at Level 1, under the Telstra Shop, Charlestown Square.

Read the story in our Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.