The art of community
The Inner West is alive with creatives and creative spaces
It’s 6:30pm on a Thursday night and I’ve arrived at The School in Rosebery to take a class in the gentle art of candle making. There’s a dozen other women taking part, and we’re all offered a glass of wine and nibbles before we take a seat at a communal table that has everything we need to make our own scented candles.
“Your eyes, your nose, your hands and your heart will totally enjoy this,” says Elise Pioch Balzac, the founder of boutique candle company Maison Balzac.
And they do, as we select our fragrances, then melt and pour our wax into receptacles to take home.
Whether its Rosebery, Newtown, Enmore or Erskineville, the same hands-on creativity and sense of community is playing out every night in the Inner West thanks to a thriving arts scene that encourages participation and pushing boundaries.
From performance venues like the Factory in Marrickville for adventurous and quirky live acts, to live music venues like Leadbelly and the Newtown Social Club in Newtown, along with a plethora of theatre, art galleries, workshop spaces and evening classes, the Inner West is alive with creatives and creative spaces.
One of the best known is The School, founded by stylist Megan Morton as a collaboration of makers and stylists offering creative classes in everything from shibori and styling to extreme knitting and ceramics.
“I was desperate to create something where process was taught, where things were shared and where community was made,” says Morton.
If ceramics at The School takes your fancy, you might also consider a visit to MakerSpace &company, an open-access workshop in Marrickville that’s teaching people how to throw clay, weld metal and work wood. Members have access to state-of-the-art machinery for wood, metal, textiles and ceramics, hot-desking access to workstations and expert advice. You can take a course in leather work or blacksmithing, there are monthly Meet-The-Makers events and there are plenty of low-cost courses for the creatively curious on a budget.
If the likes of pottery and candle making are not your thing, live music and performance venues abound in the Inner West, where it is possible to attend gigs, plays and comedy seven nights a week and where often-times the people on the stages will be the locals who live there.
“There are quite a few awesome live music venues in Newtown so I love going out to see my friends who play in bands around the area,” says Young Henrys brewery co-founder and band member of The Persian Drugs, Oscar McMahon. “I’ll play a gig once a month myself, but I also really enjoy it when people I know are playing.”
A frequent haunt for McMahon is the Newtown Social Club, where Emily Ferris runs an enterprise based on accessibility for all in a suburb with a longstanding history and reputation for being the hub for arts, music and culture in Sydney.
“There’s a number of excellent music venues in the area, ranging in size from The Midnight Special to the Enmore Theatre, that don’t discriminate at all in terms of genre and offer something for everybody,” says Ferris, who is the venue manager of the Newtown Social Club. “There’s a great local vibe here and we also see plenty of folks from the suburbs, interstate and overseas.”