Nestled in the heart of Robertson, The SHAC is so much more than just an art gallery.
In a little under two years, The Southern Highlands Artisans Collective (The SHAC) has become a bustling hive of artistic creativity.
The collective opened in May last year and along with two gallery spaces, there are many studio spaces for resident artists.
Some new additions to The SHAC include Moonacres Cooking School and Galerie Tetu.
The SHAC president Patsy Peacock said the concept for the collective first began in 2018, when artist Ric Abel approached her and her partner Michael Lynch.
"[He] said the creative vibe in Robertson seems to be fading away," she said.
"So we got our heads together. It always impressed me how much talent there was down here [in the Southern Highlands] and yet there was never one area that people creatively could come together."
And so The SHAC was registered as a not for profit and is now run by a management committee.
And as The SHAC continues to grow, so too does the interest from artists to exhibit their work or hire studio space.
Always looking for way to support artists, Ms Peacock said they were establishing an emerging artists program.
Artists will be able to exhibit their works in the Annex and Ms Peacock said they did not want to have an age limit for these artists.
"This is a region where we're finding a lot of people that are getting close to retirement and going back to what they probably always had a passion for early on. We want to encourage people of all ages."
Gallery manager Melissa Hunter-Roach said they had also been working with schools in the Highlands to find out what young students in the area needed.
"We're giving them an outlet, somewhere that looks professional, a gentle step towards exposing yourself fully as an artist."
Ms Hunter-Roach will soon be hosting workshops at The SHAC- for both the community and artists.
"I've got a strong interest in working with the artists and creating almost the business of art. It might be using artists here for a workshop on how to stretch a canvas, [or] social media and how you promote yourself as an artist, that sort of thing, " she said.
"There's a lack of arts education in the Highlands, so there's opportunities there to try and present the arts as a viable career pathway. I think The SHAC's done amazingly well to get to this point and now it's time to start to develop it a bit more where I think we can start to give back to the community more."
Among the many artists who hire studio space with The SHAC, James King (painter) and Ashley Mackevicius (photographer) are two that have upcoming exhibitions in the gallery later this year.
And just as there are many artists, there is also many different ways their creativity takes shape.
Shaz Collyer has been experimenting with using botanical oils to paint with as well as working with colour while Grant Parker is a jeweller who makes unique designs using late 19th century and early 20th century glass, celluloid and Bakelite buttons.
The Printmaking Sisters Robin Ezra and Annie Day are also artists in residence at The SHAC and for more than a decade have shared their techniques with people around the world.
"We are more than a bunch of studios and a gallery," Ms Peacock said.
"The SHAC is unique because the people who are in here with studios, along with the expertise we've got as a managing committee, can give advice, guidance and help.
"As a collective we have all these other things to offer."
This month's exhibition is one by Southern Highlands maker/sculptor/weaver Penny Simons- an artist in residence at The SHAC.
Her current works blend the eclectic disciplines of weaving, horticulture, design, art and craft.
Penny sculpts as a 'rural artisan'- using the traditions of whittling, weaving, foraging, and resourcefulness through her work.
Her exhibition Return to Nature opens on Friday July 31 and will run until Monday, August 24 as well as being online - www.theshac.com.au/penny-simons-nature
For anyone interested in exhibiting at The SHAC, visit www.theshac.com.au/the-annex to find out the many ways to become involved.
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