Kristie Banham, Coco’s Closet Workshops

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We have a wealth of talent locally, and some of these very special people enjoy sharing their talent and teaching people new skills. Kristie Banham is one of these people – an artist who enjoys sharing her passion and creativity with others in fun workshops she runs from her store, Coco’s Closet.

Hi Kristie. What brought you to the Great Lakes area?

I have lived in Forster almost all of my life. When I was four, my mum and dad drove over the Forster/Tuncurry bridge, and they were sold.

My husband, Aidan, and I lived in Melbourne for a short time, but decided to come home to raise our family. We have two children – our son, Rourke and our daughter, Mackenzie, and I feel extremely grateful and blessed to live in such a beautiful place.
Where did your art journey begin?  

I have been an artist ever since receiving my first Crayola Caddy when I was five. I have drawn, painted, sewn and created my whole life. My most recent adventure as an artist now spans almost seven years. I am the face behind Coco’s Closet. I affectionately refer to it as my happy place; I tend to hashtag that a lot! It is a funky little bricks and mortar retail store that houses my creations, inspiring mixed media art and lots of eclectic gifts.
What inspires your art practice? 

I am constantly inspired by the beauty of our region. I want to make art with purpose. Art that inspires. Art that moves you and makes you smile. Art that encourages you to be the best you can be. Art that inspires hope. Art that helps you be brave and promotes kindness. Art that uplifts you, so you never give up. Art that speaks to you and reminds you of moments gone by of people and places that fade in and out of our lives. Art that leaves an impression on your heart. Art that makes your soul want to dance. Art that makes you want to do better, to be better.

I want to live inspired, and I want my children to grow up living inspired. I want them to know that what they do, who they are and the way they carry themselves shapes our world. It shapes their world. I want them to dream big dreams. I want them to know that possibilities are endless. I want them to see the beauty that surrounds them and know it is theirs to be appreciated. I want them to be courageous in their pursuits, and my hope is that I lead by example.

I believe our messy, colourful, extraordinary lives matter. Every single one of us. I believe that simple kindness makes a difference, and I try to teach my kids that. I want my art to reflect that. I believe in smiles and happiness; when everything seems like it’s falling apart, you should most definitely colour in, and I do! I do it lots.
Describe your art style …

I am an indie artist. In the last four years I have discovered mixed media, and I am totally, totally smitten. I adore combining papers, ripping and tearing bits and pieces and mixing ink and paint and mess, then by adding glue and stamps and words, my mess transforms into art that I love. I so love adding words, phrases or quotes to the girls and paintings I create. It makes me smile every day.

My art is predominantly aimed at women. Young girls to grown up women, my art almost always carries words of empowerment, inspiration or encouragement on it. Mostly though, it›s like I›m talking to myself, reminding myself, convincing myself.

I often think we women are our own worst critics; we tend to be harsh with ourselves, and it has taken me a really long time to be comfortable enough to say this is me, this is who I am, this is what I do.
You’ve been nominated previously as Artist of the Year in the Great Lakes. How did this nomination make you feel? 

I felt really honoured and very humbled to stand amongst the amazing calibre of artists.

You’ve been holding some successful art workshops recently at your store, Coco’s Closet, in Wharf Street, Forster. What types of workshops have you held to date – and what has been the feedback you’ve received?  

I have been conducting Adults and Junior Mixed Media Workshops. We spend a lovely afternoon of inspired art making a “Joy-filled Wishing Bird Canvas”. All materials are supplied, and I share my creative process, tips and techniques, applications and my favourite supplies.

Students create their very own 12×12” mixed media canvas adorned with words from their heart. They are intimate gatherings, a workshop suitable for anyone who wants to explore their own creativeness.

I have had a beautiful response to these workshops; the following is some feedback from the lovely creatives (and their mums) who participated …

“Sarah has had a fabulous afternoon creating a masterpiece. Thanks so much, Kristie – she had the best time and wants to know when she can go back!”

“Thank you so much for sharing your creative space and talent. Soph just loved it.”

“What  a  talent  you  are  Kristie Banham, and  how fortunate  are  these  lovely  girls  to have  the  opportunity  to  learn  how  to   create  their  own  magic.”

“An afternoon of mixed media, cutting, pasting, sticking and creating. Kristie is a great teacher encouraging and helping the creative process. What a day… thanks Kristie; it was good fun.”

What upcoming workshops do you have planned? 

I have a Junior (6 – 12 years) workshop on Saturday, July 23. I have also just begun After School Art Classes in six week blocks that will encompass mixed media, watercolour, sculpture, paint and printing.

How do people register their interest in attending? 

Simply call 0410 577 050 or pop into Coco’s Closet, Wednesday to Sunday, after 10am.

Where can we find out more about you and your art? 

In person at Coco’s Closet, Shop 1/64 Wharf St, Forster, or

Thanks Kristie.

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