Claire Scarlett is the owner / operater of Forster Institute of Contemporary Art, located in Wharf St, Forster. We speak with her about making her dreams come true and working with the local community to encourage the arts.
Hi Claire. How long have you lived in Forster?
I moved here from Old Bar around 18 months ago.
> And you bought The Secret Gallery in Forster and rebranded it as Forster Institute of Contemporary Art. Was this always on the cards?
No, it was completely unplanned and unexpected. It’s a funny story, actually. When I saw The Secret Gallery (I came and hunted it down), I fell in love with the space. I told Matthew, the previous tenant, that I wanted it … it just sort of blurted out of me; I couldn’t help it! Eventually, it came up for lease, and I was in there. It was, I suppose, all meant to be.
> What do you think is appealing about the space?
It has a beautiful character … timber floors. Most of the rooms have a beautiful light streaming in all the time. It has a maze feel – plenty of rooms, so that you feel you’re not quite sure what could be in the next room. And of course, the location is fantastic.
> What is your experience in the field of art and graphic design?
I have a BA in Visual Arts and own Scarlett Creative here in Forster. I have been very fortunate in my career choice, I believe. I made a commitment to my personal art around 2000 when my son came on board.
I worked for a few companies in the city
and had some big corporate clients like the Commonwealth Bank and University NSW. I used to work at Sunne Printing in Taree and now, under Scarlett Creative, have some amazing clients who I work closely with in the Manning Great Lakes.
> These are exciting times for the area. Tell us what is on the horizon in the art world.
It really is exciting. It’s about the business community working with the art community to put on special events. There are places like the Green Point Gallery, The Aztec Shots of Happy and FICA, who are all working together to promote art in the region.
The more the merrier, I say. There is a really good energy to this place at the moment! There is nothing quite like a town that embraces good food … good coffee … great art! We all know it’s here … we just need to promote it. There are great people in the area doing their thing, like Deb Tuckerman from the Council and Julie Carmichael from Chamber, who have helped bridge these communities.
> What’s on at FICA this month?
Up until mid October we are hosting Michael Meldrum’s exhibition, which is called Lightness and Dark. Michael is a local identity who has done some incredible exhibitions in the area, including Gloucester Goes to War. Lightness and Dark will be great. There is a delicate and refined quality to his art. Michael has invited everyone to the exhibition, so it seems to have gone viral! It will see a lot of people through the gallery.
We are also hosting the Waste 2 Art Exhibition on 3 November, which is run by three Councils: Gloucester, Manning Valley and Great Lakes. The exhibition is running for two weeks, so that is a great opportunity to pop down and have a look at this great incentive. And not to mention we have a poetry project, ‘Just Say Four Words’ that is getting off the ground in the near future, so that’s exciting!
We are also hosting the Focus Beyond The Page Exhibition throughout the end of October, which is really exciting for the both of us!
So there we go; there are plenty of things happening in the upcoming months. I am afraid that if I start listing them, I will get too overwhelmed! (Laughs).
> Where is your fave coffee haunt? Where do you hang out?
I have many haunts! I love the Aztec. The Greenpoint Gallery. Buddha on the Lake. Shots of Happy for coffee! It depends of the mood, really!
> What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
More art and writing … I love writing. I also have children, so it’s about working it all in. Art is a huge part of life. My motto is “art is work is life is art”. I own and operate Scarlett Creative – a graphic design agency, not company. I see artistry in most things. So as you can see, it plays a huge part and everything is coming together well. I am grateful for the support of the community and friends in adding to my vision for FICA.
> Why do you encourage people to come down and look at FICA?
People have different reactions to going to a gallery. Some people go for contemplation, some time out. Other artists like to come in and get inspired. Others just like to go for a wander. FICA is open to all of these types of people.
> Thank you Claire.