Hidden away in Cultural Close, next to Wests Diggers at Nelson Bay, is the wonderful Port Stephens Community Arts Centre.
With over 400 members, mainly from the Bay area, the 35 year old organisation’s range of talent is awe-inspiring.
From classes in Painting, Card Making, Bonsai, Pottery, Woodwork, Mosaics and many more, there is something for everyone interested in the arts.
Mike Francis, Publicity Officer for the Arts Centre, told News Of The Area, “The building has an interesting and varied history, beginning life as a naval facility, HMAS Assault, during the Second World War.
It was later used as a hospital until 1981, when the Arts Centre was established.”
The main part of the building is an exhibition space, with all items on sale to the public.
The current exhibition is ‘Colour and Design’ and a Christmas Display.
As of 14 December, the exhibition will change to ‘Summertime Sands’ and ‘Tiny Treasures’.
The Christmas display, containing all manner of festive decorations and artwork for purchase, will remain until Christmas Eve.
As well as the art, the Centre has beautiful gardens, including a Fairy Garden for children.
A Fairy Mailbox is available for children to post their letters to the fairies – see inside the gallery for a blank letter to complete.
The Arts Centre survives on the commissions from art sales, cafe profits and the membership fees, set at a very modest $40 a year.
The Centre is staffed entirely by volunteers, who freely give their time in the gallery, the gardens and the cafe.
The tranquil Garden Cafe is open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2.30pm, serving hot and cold drinks, cakes, sandwiches and light lunches.
A huge range of original and unique paintings, jewellery, cards, crafts and pottery are extremely reasonably priced and would make excellent Christmas presents as well as supporting local people.
The Arts Centre is free to enter, making this a must on any tourist’s sightseeing list.
Locals welcome too.
By Sarah STOKES