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The Friday Files - From The Callen Collective

Updated: Jul 22, 2022

Meet the Artists from the Peninsula Studio Trail, Mornington Peninsula

Imagine yourself driving down the coast, sea breeze in your face, sunglasses on. It’s a fine weekend, at the beginning of summer and well before the craziness of the holiday season. You have planned a weekend wandering through the studios of local artists. What great taste you have!! You have the map of the studios you are interested in, logically set out between cafes, rest points and lookouts and you are looking forward to seeing a great variety of original art, sculpture and pottery. Given you’ve done a bit of homework and had a quick look at websites before you set out, this artist studio trail is exactly like what your soul needs. Who knows, you might even find that little nugget of gold - your next amazing art find, or buy local handmade gifts for family or friends.

As humans, no matter what we do, where we come from, or what makes us tick, we collect things. We either carefully catalogue and order them, or we put them in our pockets, on the kitchen bench or in a drawer for later. We also decorate our homes with them. We frame them, hang them on the walls, maybe these are posters, coasters, or beautiful art prints or paintings. Maybe an object-de-art, piece of pottery, a vase of flowers, or a relic of beach glass, found on the sand, perfect for the little spot on the windowsill, to refract the light.

Isn’t it great then, when we find a new source of supply? Well, let me tell you about one that you might be able to get to know a little better through the next few posts on this blog The Friday Files. The group is the Peninsula Studio Trail Inc.

The Peninsula Studio Trail Inc. is a group of Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) based artists who open their studios to the public at least twice a year. I joined this group in 2021 and have since opened my studio to the public 3 times. We currently number over thirty artists from many disciplines including painting (oil, acrylic, watercolour and mixed media), pottery, sculpture, floral art, jewellery makers and print makers.

As part of our bi-annual open studio weekends, we invite the public into our creative spaces where you can meet us and see our work: where it’s created, talk to us about how it’s made and the materials we use. You can sometimes even touch it (no guarantees on this, as its depends on the artist’s studio) but I can guarantee you will actually meet the maker of what could possibly become your next collector piece. Opening my studio up to you means I can also meet you, talk to you about what you like, what you might be looking for and get to know you just a little bit too. And this, my friend, is very rewarding.

In the lead up to the next Open Studio Weekend in November 2022, I will be talking to many of the members of the Peninsula Studio Trail Inc. (PST) for The Friday Files. You will see their work, their faces and find out about them, how they work and a bit about their background.

As I am the writer, I nominate myself to go first…

I am Narelle Callen. My creative business is called The Callen Collective. I am a painter and textile print designer based in Mount Eliza, on the Mornington Peninsula.

I’ve always been creative and artistic and love the fact that my job is exactly that.

I paint using acrylic paint on either stretched canvas or lovely thick paper. Recently, I’ve added in a bit of collage for texture. My work is textural, colourful, contemporary landscape, inspired by nature, water, beaches, surrounding hills and countryside.

Generally, I paint in series or collections, working on more than one painting at a time. This allows me to do a few things. Firstly, I can keep the colours consistent across the series. Secondly, I can keep within the same style and explore a similar theme or idea, colours, marks and application of paint. I find that my work will progress (colours, marks or thematically) from one series to the next. Currently, I am working on contemporary landscape.

The other part of my creative practice is textile design for print work. These designs usually start out as hand drawings and are then digitised. They are decorative print designs that are printed, in repeat, on fabric or other 3D products and often made into gifts, cushions and doorstops or available in fabric lengths by the metre. Using digital printing allows fabric to be printed in exactly the length required and there is no wastage.

My background is a combination of creativity and corporate. I studied product design (industrial design) at university in Brisbane and worked as a furniture designer for interior decorators/designers. In the late 90s (yep, I'm well aged!) my hubby and I put everything on hold went overseas to travel and do volunteer work. In coming back to Australia, we moved to Melbourne. Here, I did a master’s in project management at RMIT and worked in engineering and project management for 17 years on large infrastructure projects. However, once I had my children, I found myself having to commute 4 hours a day to work in the city. Meanwhile my little children were first in and last out of childcare and after school care. Something had to change, right! I had been painting and making on the weekends for a long time and really loved doing this. After much consultation and planning between myself and my hubby, I have been able to turn my love of creativity and art into my profession, doing what I love – painting and creating textile pattern designs.

If you’d like to read more about my background, see some of my past and current work, I’d love you to visit my website. Follow the links to my about page, see my current work and textile design gallery.

A few of my current pieces are shown below.

What’s coming up? Save the dates for the following upcoming shows and opens studio weekends.

Peninsular Studio Trail Inc. Annual Exhibition for 2022 22 September – 3 October, at The Studio, Wilsons Road, Mornington.

Artists Open Studio Weekend 19-20 and 26-27 November 2022 10am – 5pm.

Artist exhibition, featuring Narelle Callen, Mornington Peninsula Library. (December 2022) details to follow.

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