Art space provides artistic experiences for Tamar Valley Community

Sara Ferrington at the Rascal Robot Art Space
Sara Ferrington at the Rascal Robot Art Space
ABOVE: Sara Ferrington, Artistic Director of Rascal Robot Art Space

While Beaconsfield locals call it ‘The Old Sins’, the building is now home to the Rascal Robot Art space.

The local non-profit provides a space to explore your creativity and get involved in artistic projects that benefit the local community.

Sara Ferrington, the Atelierista and Artistic Director of Rascal Robot Art Space said that she had always been interested in the creative arts, and that growing up in Sydney helped shape her artistic experiences.

“I grew up in Sydney and it wasn’t until I met my husband 8 years ago and started talking to him about his cultural experiences living in Tasmania his entire life in the North as well that I kind of realised just how much Sydney privilege I had because we had all the museums and galleries and experiences at our doorstep.” Said Sara.

Following a career in Sydney as a project manager and business manager, Sara moved to Tasmania and decided change was overdue.

“When I moved down to Tassie, I was like nope, that’s it.”

“I’ve got all those skills, I’m not even all that interested in all that stuff, I’m only going to work in the arts from now on, and so I did.”

In 2017 Sara and her husband Dan were chosen to build the bronze tiger statues in the Brisbane Street Mall in Launceston.

“That was like 18months of our life. It was a huge, huge project and we had so much fun doing it.” Said Sara.

Following the bronze Tiger project, Sara and Dan had made a name for themselves, and Sara was soon asked to do an art project at the child and family centre in Beaconsfield.

“I worked with the kids and families to create a mural for their training room, so Rascal Robot came out of that. It was a drawing from Holly who was then 6 years old, and she just smashed out drawing after drawing in two hours.”

Following the success of the mural, the primary school then asked Sara to do a more involved project with their students.

“They gave me two kids from every class from prep right up to grade 6, and we had two sessions with them.”

“The first session was getting them used to the idea of using ink, brushes and fountain pen nibs and stuff.”

“The second one, I said this is going in the library, so I want you to think about your favourite books and what you like about reading, how does it make you feel and they created all these incredible drawings, some funny little critters, all the way up to this girl who spent the entire couple of hours creating one amazing drawing that’s now a 1.5m tall print out on the wall which we had printed as wall paper.”

“It was during those projects that I met all these kids in the area. All their parents were like ‘do you do lessons?’”

Sara, who was working from her home studio at the time, then set to work finding a suitable location to be able to host an art space and provide those requested lessons.

“I just put it out there on Facebook and within minutes, I had someone saying, give me second, I’m going to make a phone call, and a few days later I was looking at this place and going ‘oh my god’”

The Old Sins building is a characterful building originally built in the 1800’s, but then rebuilt sometime in the 1900’s following a fire.

The Rascal Robot Art Space was then set up as a non-profit organisation.

“We wanted to community to feel some ownership of it” said Sara, “so the board is made up of people from the community.”

“At the core of it, you’ve got the dance schools for the dance kids, soccer clubs and cricket clubs but for the kids who want to sit around and doodle in a notebook, it’s nice they’ve got a place where they can come now.”

While doodling in a notebook can bring hours of enjoyment, Sara said it also has positive effects on children’s learning.

“There is a really strong trend that I’ve noticed to get it right and to do it as fast as possible.”

“There’s this kind of efficiency and accuracy that’s being pushed.”

“I send all my kids to school, school isn’t bad, but there are kids who come here who don’t learn that way.”

“I’ve got a student who communicates so much better through pictures and he builds worlds and he’s always got lots of great ideas, great visual memory and he can see something and then hang on to that while he creates something inspired by it.”

“To build resilience at this age in a completely safe environment like this, what a great way to start building that self-confidence and have fun and make cool stuff as well.”

But while painting and drawing are a big part of the art space, it’s not all that’s on offer.

“We are doing technical stuff, and we’ve done ceramics.”

“Dan started teaching wood carving, and process art has been a big part of it, which is the idea of making something without having an end in mind, which frustrates some of those kids who want to get it right and do it quickly.”

While the organisation started by creating quality art experiences for kids in the local area, Sara said it had spread a lot further than that.

“During lockdown, we were sending out subscription boxes as far as Sydney, Wagga, WA and Hobart.”

“We’ve got school holiday activities coming up all over summer, and in that weird week between school finishing and Christmas where kids are like ‘ah Christmas’ so I’ve just planned stuff to harness the energy”

“We’re doing a paint slip and slide out on the lawn next to the shed and a messy art buffet where I’m just going to put out all the stuff that their not allowed to play with like glitter, slime, sand, shaving cream, you name it, we’ve got it.”

“I’ve got some guest teachers organised that I’m really excited about.”

“I’ve got the ceramics lecturer from the university and we’re going to learn to play the ukulele.”

Sara said that the ukulele classes will be run over three weeks.

“You can come for an hour each week and you’ll learn a song over those three weeks.”

“Each week you’ll learn some basic chords and fingering and my friend is going to bring ukuleles if you don’t have one.”

“I’m so excited!” Said Sara.

While the Rascal Robot Art Space may be predominately geared towards children, there are also opportunities for adults to get involved.

“We’re doing an adults Christmas night shopping too, I’ve got some friends who make t-shirts, Christmas decorations, scrunchies, all kinds of really cute things, called ‘Totally Mum Made’ and they’re mums who live locally, just trying to start a business, so they’re going to have a little stall here as well.”

“We’ll have wine, and nibbly bits, it’s going to be lovely and kid free, so you can come and buy for them and they won’t be peering over your shoulder, as well as have an adult conversation and a drink.”

For those wanting to get involved with Rascal Robot Art Space, you can check out their website at www.rascalrobot.art

You can also find them on Facebook, or drop in to the building and say hello.

“If you have been curious at all in 2020 about what is going on down here, you do not have to be a child to just walk in and say hello,” Sara said, adding “just come down and have a look, I don’t bite!”

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