buoy Newstead’s Hub

6 December, 2021

Since 2015 the Newstead Arts Hub has been building as a cultural force in our region, and now, as a repurposed railway station, the Hub sits right on our proposed trail – just like its Carisbrook cousin that is awaiting some love. So, last week we joined the throng at the Hub’s “Hidden Away” art auction and spoke to Hub Chair and CMRT fan Chris Johnston.

Hi Chris, what was “Hidden Away” all about? 

Art can get removed from our everyday view. There can be different reasons we no longer put it on our wall – or we’d rather it be loved by someone else. We knew collectors and artists who had works that were hidden away. And the Newstead Arts Hub wanted to find a way to unearth it. The idea of the auction was born.

Who participated in the auction?                    

More than 30 artworks were put up for auction. The art works were donated by artists and collectors. Also, almost 40 people joined the crowd and many of them bid. There were a lot of raised hands and smiling faces. Newstead’s got a vibrant community that is committed to nurturing creativity.

Where did the buzz come from?

A lot of credit goes to our art auctioneer Lucy Mora and her penciller Julian Cairns. They kept the crowd engaged and reaching for their wallets. Lucy Mora, also runs Newstead’s The Mud Room, a tiny space curated with delicious comestibles and homewares. Lucy’s got a deep background in art.

How did the auction help the Hub?

The auction was a roaring success. This was our second. It raised some $6000 for the Hub. It’s given us the funds to continue developing the Hub. It was exciting to watch the bidding, knowing that everyone who did was helping the Hub to grow.

Can you mention some of the artists and collectors? 

The generous artists who donated included Kareen Anchen, Jennifer Barnett, Jeff Gardner, Marcus Hotblack, Milton Moss, Geoff Park, Julie Patey, John Perry, Catherine Pilgrim and Richard Sullivan. And the community-minded collectors who donated from their collections included Lynne Grocke, Prue McAdam & Richard Sullivan, Lucy Mora, Milton Moss, and John Perry. I donated a couple myself too.

What pieces got the most attention?

A beautiful landscape watercolour by Ivan Panka – from the famous Hermannsburg School – sold for $820. And another beautiful work by famous Australian bird artist Peter Trusler was snapped up for $500. Both artists are very collectible Lucy says.

And what about the team?

Amazing! The nibbles were created by Julie Patey and Chris Johnston; Gordon Dowell held down the front desk; sound, lighting and logistics were ably managed by Geoff Park and Milton Moss; and keeping everyone happy in the drinks tent, were Julia Elkins, Ron Snep and Phoebe Snep. It was a team effort by the community and for the community.                       

What does the success of an event like “Hidden Away” mean for you and the Hub?

Community events like this make a difference. We don’t receive any ongoing funding, so it’s our exhibitions, workshops – and events like the auction – plus our volunteers and friends – that keep the doors open. It’s a joy being in one of Newstead’s historic buildings, but the upkeep can be expensive.

What does the prospect of the Castlemaine – Maryborough rail trail mean for the future of the Hub?               

We are really keen to see the rail trail develop. The trail will further connect the Hub with other communities. We love that the Hub sits on the old track, which means the trail will be right on our doorstep.

In closing can you tell us a little bit about the Hub’s history?                   

Newstead railway station is part of our history and heritage. It was built in 1874. It adopts the ‘Dunolly’ architectural style as does Carisbrook, the next station on the line from Castlemaine to Maryborough.  Newstead’s station was revamped as the Hub in 2015.