Down a Newtown side-lane in an old industrial complex sits jewellery studio SquarePeg. For all it achieves this small outfit has a big heart and lots of energy.
On a recent visit, the founder of SquarePeg Studios, Brenda Factor, took me on a tour. Brenda is a graduate of that well respected institution Enmore Design Centre – as are a number of other jewellers from SquarePeg. I had contacted Brenda, via Gaffa, in the hope of getting some information on jewellery tutors. Brenda was so helpful I was intrigued to find out more about SquarePeg.
I was mightily impressed with what I saw – and how many programs and initiatives are on offer from this self-funded organisation. For starters there are a core group of 10 emerging and established jewellers who have studio spaces. Adjacent to their studios is a well-equipped workshop with daily bench-space rental available. The workshop is also used for teaching a suite of jewellery courses to the public – from 1 day intensive to approximately 7 weeks duration. For a full run-down of the courses visit Square Peg.
What impressed me the most about SquarePeg was the social capital it’s created through a number of activities. There is an acknowledgement of how hard it is when you start out fresh from college and SquarePeg makes a conscious effort to assist new graduates. Artist-run spaces with longevity or vibrancy seem to me to be those that foster connections and engage communities – including the local and broader community – not just the arts community.
On offer at SquarePeg is a residency program assisting recent jewellery/object graduates. As part of the residency package you receive free studio rent for a prescribed period and potential mentoring from three established jewellers from SquarePeg – Erin Keys, Majella Beck and Brenda Factor. As well, there’s an opportunity to get some teaching experience under your belt assisting tutors with the SquarePeg courses. An add-on sweetener is the small exhibiting space for successful applicants to show their recent work. The residency is open to interstate and international candidates.
Brenda also mentioned her desire to help the local migrant population with settling into the area by planning to run some free jewellery workshops in 2013. Yep, SquarePeg is definitely worth a look!