Media, Press and Accolades
Staff and friends of Bendigo’s View Point Handmade Gallery are donning school dresses in a bid to raise money for the education of girls in Sierra Leone.
As part of the second annual “Do it in a dress” campaign, gallery owner Jess Cola will wear her school dress in the store every day this month.
Any donations will be used to help support girls in Sierra Leone attend school, including school fees, books, bags, uniforms, medical care and stationary.
According to the organisers behind “Do it in a dress”, a girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to attend high school.
So far the charity has helped 150 girls attend school.
Ms Cola said she “jumped at the chance” to get involved. “I have constantly been hearing stats about how educating girls is the best thing you can do for the local economy,” she said.
“This is a really holistic approach, too. For example, teenage girls in Sierra Leone often miss one week of class a month simply because they have no access to sanitary napkins.
“So the donation covers things like that.”
As part of the fundraising drive, the gallery will also be holding two “crafternoons”, the first this Saturday.
Ms Cola said there were still a handful of tickets left to the event.
“It’s about coming together to enjoy a few cups of tea and making something,” she said.
“People are encouraged to bring a plate to share.”
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Tickets are $10, with all proceeds going to “Do it in a dress”.
A second crafternoon is planned for October 27.
For more information, visit www.viewpointgallery.com.au or drop by the shop at 13 View Point, Bendigo.– ELISE SNASHALL-WOODHAMS
Bendigo has changed, and it’s getting better all the time.
“When I first moved back here, I thought I’d rather have my head chopped off,” Jessica Cola says.
“Now, with View Point just six months in and going so well, this is the place I want to be.
“What I love about all the creative people here is they are so supportive.”
Jessica took on the run-down building at 13 View Point, one of the best spots in Bendigo, overlooking the fountain and just around the corner from View Street.
The idea was to open a shop specialising in handmade goods downstairs, with a gallery space upstairs, and a cafe.
The shopfront opened for business about six months ago, and last month Jessica and her father, who is her business partner, lifted the curtain on the art space upstairs.
The cafe is going to take a little more time, as they slowly bring the lovely old building back to life.
But Jessica is more than pleased with the progress.
“It’s all a process, but it’s going much better than we expected just six months in,” she said.
“The idea upstairs is that we can provide opportunities for up and coming artists, while downstairs we have things that people can connect with the places they are produced.
“We’re aiming at 60 per cent product from Central Victoria.”
It’s a bright and busy shop, with lots of different things to look at: lamps with unique shades, swirling glass shapes, jazzy children’s clothes, pretty frocks made in vintage materials, and soaps that smell good enough to eat.
Jessica describes herself as an arts “dabbler”. Her new venture, which is linking with the burgeoning grassroots arts and crafts scene in Bendigo, has become a consuming passion.
Jessica and some of the other creative people around town are also planning to be part of the inaugural Bendigo Writers Festival.
She picks up a flowered headband, pops it on to her hair (purple this week), and smiles serenely.
“I don’t cope very well when I haven’t much to do,” she says.
“When I decided that I want to do this, I soon realised that it’s just going to keep growing, which is beautiful.
“Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
View Point Handmade Gallery and Owner Jess appeared in a feature on buying local for the festive season by journalist Lauren Mitchell, with photos by Matt Kimpton.
Here's some snippets from the article:
Jess says while once upon a time the handmade gift was reserved for thrifty givers, that's certainly not the case anymore.
"it's definitely a trend I'm noticing - the handmade gift is a legitimate present for people," she says
"Now you can buy someone a handmade gift and they'll appreciate the time and craft that's gone into it.
"It's part of the rebellion against the mass-produced, plastic, consumerist attitude."
It's also part of the reason Jess opened her store almost three months ago. It's a space that rents shelves to independant makers and artists, and will one day include a cafe, gallery and workshop space.
"It was about community and creativity," Jess says.
"I'm trying to engage the creative community, and not just the musos and others who always engage.
"I want to poets to start talking to the artists and the artists to start talking to the musicians. I'm just encouraging creativity and it's exciting to see where that goes."
Jess was asked to speak as part of the panel of promenient local women at September's womeni.s.e event.
The View Street arts precinct is set to be injected with some raw edge with the opening of a contemporary craft gallery and store.
Viewpoint Handcraft Gallery is the brainchild of young Bendigo entrepreneur Jess Cola, 24, and aims to tap into the alternative craft scene growing in and around Bendigo and Castlemaine.
“I’d like to make it so that people can sell their things,” Ms Cola, who is involved in the Bendigo roller derby scene and an avid supporter of handmade art, said. On her way to achieving her dream, Ms Cola got hold of some prime real estate – 13 Viewpoint – whose second storey overlooks the Alexandra Fountain and Pall Mall.
“It is honestly a space that Bendigo hasn’t seen yet. It’s been shut off for so long,” Ms Cola said.
The 19th century building will be run as a shop from downstairs, where Ms Cola will lease shelf space to artists to display their products, with a cafe planned for the extensive back room.
The upstairs, which is replete with a wood stove, will function as an art gallery with other salon-like events.
With the help of friends and family, Ms Cola is charging full steam ahead to have the shop open by the end of August and is looking for local craft makers to source from.
“There’s a long haul before we open... I’ve tried to make it as affordable as possible for artists,” she said.