Sheree Martin: The Little Red Art Shed
Need some colour in your children’s lives? New Zealand artist Sheree Martin is your lady
When Sheree Martin met a Tasmanian man overseas, she never imagined that years later she would be the founder of The Little Red Art Shed, a cubby-style studio in the heart of Hobart. High up on the tenth floor of the relatively new creative hub, Studio 65, Sheree lets creativity flourish. It is here that the artist and art play facilitator runs her playdates for children aged between one and five years.
Art play is about the process of inspiring a child’s curiosity and providing an opportunity to play and explore. Children come to the Little Red Art Shed for art playdates that range from barefoot moving and grooving with paint plus tunes through to delving into playdough fun or the use of natural materials. As part of the experience, parents learn about the impact art play can have on a child’s wellbeing and early development.
Sheree’s love of process-guided practice began while she was studying at New Zealand’s School of Creativity and Art, The Learning Connexion. The artist moved focus from her own creative endeavours to working within Adult Community Arts. Following the birth of her children, she was inspired to establish The Little Red Shed. Between education, community arts, her own practice and The Little Red Shed, Sheree is able to share her passion for ‘the creative process.’
“We’ve lived in Tasmania for eight years now,” says Sheree. “The Little Red Art Shed idea came about through my own children and my own art background. First it was a mobile offering and now we have a fabulous studio in Murray Street. It’s about embracing and nurturing art as a process.”
“It has even morphed into parents and carers joining in to experience art with their children,” smiles Ms. Martin. “And the best part is parents don’t have to clean up the mess! We are adapting and changing all the time based on feedback from our families. We go from messy paint to natural materials, like clay from my backyard. I dry my own pigment and make flour-based paint and play dough. Basically, we give everyone the opportunity to ‘play’. It’s about inspiring curiosity and igniting the imagination – in turn nurturing health and wellbeing.”
The community-minded mother is also involved in her local neighbourhood and has worked closely with the Hobart City Council Love Our Street West Hobart community initiative. It’s not every day the community get to add their creative touch to local streets. With plenty of local hands and hearts behind her, the suburb now has two new street libraries where books are shared and residents can meet one another. The idea is to take a book and leave a book.
In conjunction with the City of Hobart, Sheree managed the library project design, build and installation. She worked closely with local primary schools and residents from the nearby retirement village, so that many layers of the community were part of the process.
What makes this initiative special is where the creative inspiration originated from. Grade two students from Landsdowne Crescent Primary School and Goulburn Street Primary School met with the retirement village residents to read books and share morning tea together. The sense of community from this experience then informed the street library designs. Sheree likens it to a ‘big warm community hug’ where elders and children came together.
Street Libraries Australia manage a nationwide database of libraries, including the two Goulbourn Street additions. Their goal is to have 5 000 registered libraries by 2021. Street library locations can be found by visiting www.streetlibrary.org.au.
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Find out more about The Little Red Art Shed.
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