Tucked down a laneway in Bairnsdale, Foundry is a surprise haven for unsuspecting passersby or, for those in the know, the first stop when looking for that something special in the riverside town.
A thriving artist collective, Foundry stocks the handmade, locally crafted goods of over 65 artists and makers. Visitors are treated to a curated collection of handcrafted jewellery, bespoke homewares, vintage clothing, sustainable lifestyle goods, handmade children's toys, and unique artwork, prints and cards.
“When you make a purchase with us, you are supporting local artists and grassroots business, unique and creative economics, and our radical dream concept of supporting ourselves through honing and utilising our passions and skills,” says co-founder Jes John.
Beyond being a treasure trove of local goods, Foundry is a home for local artists to find support and community. Whether it is through their artist-in-residency program, Hallway Gallery, workshops and events, or simply the welcoming conversation and atmosphere, founders Jes John, Jill Hermans and Clare River have created a space where artists and art lovers alike leave
feeling more connected, fulfilled and inspired than when they came in.
In the spirit of Foundry, we asked a weave of the textile artists who are part of this incredible patchwork to each talk about another Foundry textile artist they love. We hope this chain letter of admiration and support stokes the warm, cosy feeling that their work and Foundry imbues.
"...You are supporting local artists and grassroots business... our radical dream concept of supporting ourselves through our passions and skills."
ROBYN HERMANS — by Jes John
I've always been in awe of the soft colours of eco-dyeing, but it can be hard to get right. I want gentle waves of eucalypt and grass, colours with kind personalities: scents and sights of the bush, but in my hand. Robyn does this perfectly. She spins, she dyes, she knits!
There's an edge to what she makes, somehow – long beanies with little ears or pixie tops, teeny tiny neat socks, looped woollen necklaces that rival contemporary jewellery making without trying.
The colours, drawn from nature, are soothing and comforting. The combinations are playful, pretty and irresistible. The wool itself is spun kind of roughly, adding texture to all of Robyn's creations and adding interest to our outfits.
Once Robyn knitted a stripey pixie beanie for my young son and I was so grateful – I am secretly hoping she will make one every year for the rest of my son, Alby's, life.
DEB JEMMESON — by Robyn Hermans
I have a large piece of Deb’s gum leaf rag on the wall in my lounge room. Around two metres long, it’s imprinted with unique colours and shapes of nature. This beautiful piece of silk reminds me on a daily basis of the power of nature and also of the community connections that have drawn Deb and me into the same space.
Deb is the creator of beautiful eco-dyed art on a canvas of silk, cotton and wool fabric. She has mastered the art of extracting the wonder of our bushland and infusing it into her wearable art.
Over the years, parts of our lives have intersected through family and recreation. After the fires, I dreamt of a fun day where Deb would teach us about what she does – the amazing process of combining leaves and natural fibres in the magic of eco-dyeing.
I am still awaiting the day when we might get together and share the delights of unwrapping gum leaf rags to reveal the secrets within.
SUZANNE MARTIN — by Deb Jemmeson
Suzanne creates the most delightful handmade soft toys out of upcycled or repurposed woollen blankets. Her toys are gorgeous and feature clever design. The colours are playful and inviting. The shapes are simple and bold and excellent for creative play.
Each little creature – whether dinosaur, bunny or dog – seems to have personality stitched in, which makes them irresistible – you want to take them home and treasure them. Suzanne’s whimsical woollen trees and colourful garlands make creative playscapes even more enchanting. These robust snuggly treasures make wonderful gifts, including for the young at heart.
It is always a pleasure to gift something that is local, well made and environmentally thoughtful.
JULIA TREZISE — by Suzanne Martin
A love of the natural world is something I wholeheartedly share with Julia Trezise. This affinity with nature and strong and passionate connection to the earth is warmly reflected in the artist's wonderful, creative work.
Julia is probably best known for her colourful, playful woodland-inspired trees. Everyone needs some fun and fantasy in their lives and these whimsical trees are a fantastic addition to any child's bedroom or play space. Julia’s gorgeous miniature woodland creatures team beautifully with these creations.
This very talented artist sources many of her materials from nature and is committed to recycling. Julia’s lovely creations can be found at many artist collectives, galleries and weekend markets in East Gippsland.
PENNY GRAY — by Julia Trezise
As I stand in the Foundry’s mini Hallway Gallery, I’m transported into Penny's magical world of cyanotype photograms. Blue. Nature. Love. Penny’s use of various base materials exposes her creative play and passion and the subject matter – the plants, which are all from her property in Toorloo Arm – is a testament to her ethos and biophilic nature.
There seems to be a collective thread that flows through the artists that present their work in Foundry. In Penny's cyanotypes and in her vintage floral hats I see this affinity and love – even a craving – for nature. Isn’t this craving in us all, this connection to nature? So we seek it out and are drawn towards it. In this little collective Foundry, that is wondrously evident!