The original escape for makers

Brooke Boland

A program for those who need time to develop their creative practice or learn a new skill.
The original escape for makers

Image: supplied.

Well before the makers movement made craft fashionable, Sturt Gallery and Studios already had a reputation for forging careers in craft and design.

Today it is still recognised as a national centre of excellence in the teaching and promotion of Australian contemporary craft and design.

Sturt houses working studios across a wide range of art and craft mediums, including woodwork, ceramics, textiles, design and jewellery and offers classes and workshops throughout the year. It is also home to the world class Sturt School of Wood that teaches Australia’s future furniture makers and designers.

Artists and designers continue to take up the offer to stay at Australia's oldest craft centre for the opportunity to develop their skills in a beautiful setting among like-minded people.

Image: supplied.

‘In the dining hall at lunch time there is a sense of togetherness, shared enjoyment, common interest and enthusiasm.  It is the perfect environment to make new friends and to feel a part of something special for a week. I see people exceed their own expectations all the time, I see first time artists amaze themselves by what they have achieved,’ said Head of Sturt Mark Viner.

View courses here

Set in the Southern Highlands one hour from Sydney, Sturt boasts an extensive annual education program that offers opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to engage in meaningful development of their creative abilities. This is because the school offers two of the most valuable resources in the arts – time and space.

Sturt Garden: Image supplied.

‘We’re in a beautiful and inspiring setting of historic gardens and white weather board buildings housing our studios and gallery – Sturt is one of the major cultural attractions for the Southern Highlands,’ explained Viner.

‘We offer the highest quality teachers and courses in everything that we do.’

As an accredited provider of professional development for NSW teachers (through the NSW Education Standards Authority), each course qualifies for individual teacher professional development.

For those who want to be stretched

Sturt’s Winter and Summer School programs are a huge drawcard for practicing artists, providing them with access to accredited courses for one week while residing on the Frensham campus.

Sturt Winter School 3-7 July

‘Winter school offers serious opportunities for those willing to be stretched as well as engagement for those wanting an artistic holiday,’ said Viner.

In many of the classes – particularly painting, watercolours, drawing – the classes and teachers take inspiration from the environment here for the work that they do.’

Image: supplied.

‘We offer accommodation in the Frensham boarding houses, breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Dining Hall, talks programs, movie nights, social events so people who come to Winter School can concentrate on their art and on having a good time and do not need to go anywhere else – this is very appealing to many of our regular guests.  You do not need a car as the train station is 2 minutes away and we would pick up and drop off. 

Viner admitted that the Winter and Summer schools are a unique offering in Australia and many practitioners keep coming back. ‘We think that we offer a high level of care and attention to detail, which is why many people come back year after year.’

2017 Sturt Winter School courses announced

This year Sturt Winter School will offer 14 adult classes.

  • Look, draw + print with Cecile Galiazzo
  • The portrait in watercolour with Tanya Baily
  • Painting in oils with Rachel Milne
  • Botanical: Winter offerings - drawing fruit, nuts and seeds with Christine Rockley
  • Carousel books: 3-dimensional travel books with Cindy Tonkin
  • Non-toxic printmaking with Seraphina Martin
  • Weaving with the WOW factor with Sue Walker
  • Stitch and dye with Morgan Higgins
  • Basketry: weaving natural sculptural forms with Catriona Pollard
  • Figurative sculpture in clay with Kassandra Bossell
  • Porcelain: exploring ways to make sentimental objects with Fleur Schell
  • Etching + champlevé enamelling with Barbara Ryman
  • Introduction to marquetry with Ruth Thompson
  • Barstool made with hand tools with Evan Dunstone

Daily classes for children are also available.

The Sturt Winter School is held from Monday 3 - Friday 7 July and offers 14 adult classes and daily classes for children. Visit

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer.