Grafton Artsfest tutor and Lake Macquarie botanical illustrator Belinda Biggs will show students techniques for painting plants in both black and white and watercolour.
Grafton Artsfest tutor and Lake Macquarie botanical illustrator Belinda Biggs will show students techniques for painting plants in both black and white and watercolour.

Artists gather at Graftons Artfest

FROM soft watercolours to textured collages, the autumn Artsfest will see creative juices flow through the Clarence during the next five days.

This is the 16th year Artsfest has attracted talented students and tutors – from both Australia and overseas – to Grafton.

Held every autumn and spring, Artsfest provides people of all ages and artistic leanings the chance to grow in their knowledge and ability by working with some of the best artists in their chosen field.

Grafton Artsfest committee president Fay Boyd said the twice-yearly event had blossomed since its inception in 1994.

“I’ve seen it grow from very small beginnings to really established on the Australian cultural calendar as one of the best festivals on offer,” Mrs Boyd said.

“I believe we are unique – there is nothing like it.”

This time around, 105 students have journeyed to the Valley to participate – including one from New Zealand.

There are 10 workshops being staged at the festival’s Grafton High School base, ranging from mixed media, to pastels, to wall-mounted masks.

One of the tutors, Belinda Biggs, will be coordinating the Botanical Drawing and Painting workshop.

Botanical art is the scientific illustration of plants.

With her accolades including selection for the prestigious Margaret Flockton Scientific Illustration Award at the NSW herbarium, Ms Biggs described the art style as ‘very addictive and very exacting’.

“It’s an art form that you have to have a passion for,” she said.

Ms Biggs, from Lake Macquarie on the NSW Central Coast, said she was looking forward to the challenge of the week ahead.

“It’s enjoyable teaching people who have never done it before.”

Her workshop will include drawing plants in black and white – at times using a microscope – followed by painting the plants in watercolour.

To conclude the festival, members of the public are invited to attend Artsfest’s student exhibition at the Grafton High School quadrangle at 4.30pm Saturday.

“We invite anyone interested in culture and art to view the culmination of four days’ work – it really is mind-boggling what the students achieve in such a small amount of time,” Mrs Boyd said.

She paid special thanks to Grafton High School for its continued support of the event.

“They open the school to us,” she said.

“It’s just a wonderful working relationship between two community groups in the city.”

Artsfest will run from today until Sunday.

Phone 6643 1528 or visit


Artsfest Program

 TODAY: First day of the five-day-long workshops begin at Grafton High School. The workshops, which run from 9am to 4pm daily, include:

Advanced Mixed Media (Judith White);

Watercolour, Textural and Vibrant Collage (Lyn Butchart);

Add Life to Your Watercolours (Greg Allen);

Catching the Light in Watercolour (David Taylor);

Botanical Drawing and Painting (Belinda Biggs);

Pastels (Barbara McManus);

Go Further with Your Pen and Wash (Cees Sliedrecht);

Acrylic and Mixed Media Painting (Pamela Griffith);

Ceramic, Wall-Mounted Masks (Kate French); and

Viking Knit, Chain Maille Weaves and Wire Work (Valma Spencer-Sun).


 TONIGHT: Visual Arts Tutors’ Exhibition. 5.30pm, South Grafton Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Wharf Street, South Grafton. A night to experience the true ambience of the festival; the works of Artsfest’s 10 talented tutors will be on show. There will be a welcome address and introduction of the 2010 autumn tutors by one of Artsfest’s founding members, Bill Dougherty OAM, at 6.30pm. Entertainment will be provided by the Clarence Valley Conservatorium’s Big Band. Following the function, the tutors’ artworks will remain available for viewing at Grafton High School for the duration of Artsfest.


 FRIDAY: A Knight to Remember. 8pm, The Criterion Theatre, 149 Oliver Street, Grafton. A cast of 20 will star in this madcap medieval tale of magic and mirth, set in a time when men were men and women were women and a knight couldn’t get his armour off! Life revolved around ‘Hey, Nonny Nonny’, complicated by romance, intrigue and plain dirty deeds. Patrons are welcome to bring their own food and drinks to the show. Hampers for four are also available at an extra cost. Tickets are $20. They will be sold at Grafton High School today and tomorrow, or will be available at the door on Friday.


 SATURDAY: Visual Arts Students’ Exhibition. 4.30pm, Quadrangle, Grafton High School. All welcome – open to the public. View the culmination of this year’s autumn Artsfest at the display of student works created during the week’s workshops. For more information, phone the Grafton Artsfest office on 6643 1528 or visit

Father jailed over crash that killed son

premium_icon Father jailed over crash that killed son

Father was drink-driving at the time of accident.

TIED UP: Trawlers and Vikings can't be separated

premium_icon TIED UP: Trawlers and Vikings can't be separated

Yamba takes confidence against Sunshine Conference minor premiers

Country music everyday this week for our farmers

Country music everyday this week for our farmers

If you love country music and our farmers this fundraiser is for you

Local Partners