Workshop Reports & Feedback

Mingaletta Sisters Culture, Art & Stories Sharing Day – 19 June, 2021

The weekend of Saturday 19th June, Mingaletta Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corporation Elders opened their doors to welcome members of Art-Full Women for a day of stories, culture, painting and weaving. Mingaletta is the only Aboriginal community hub based in the Umina/Woy Woy area on the Central Coast.

Sponsored by Bendigo Community Bank Ettalong Branch, this was an extraordinary opportunity for women who have been involved in the Art-Full Women Project to share stories and to learn skills.

Mingaletta Elder, Aunty Elaine, Arrente/Wiradjuri woman from the ‘stolen generation’, opened the day and spoke of the role that present Elders played in the development of the younger generation becoming Elders of the future. Aunty Elaine also explained that Aboriginal painting always had a connection with country. For the 32 participants from Art Full Women this gave a deeper insight into where we could call on personal connections to start out on our day of creativity.

Artist in residence and Sister Lynelle Elliott, a proud Wiradjuri woman, then led the Art-Full Women participants through stages of painting a small work. The results were fantastic and with the guidance of Elliott, budding artists really put their own experiences and connections into their work.

The afternoon session commenced with Mingaletta Aunties and Sisters leading the group through an exercise of weaving. Following instructions for weaving a small basket or making a raffia bracelet the Art-Full Women members quickly felt at home chatting, connecting, discovering more about the wonderful Mingaletta Corporation while doing their best to produce the desired results!!!

Our deepest thanks go to Elders Aunty Di, Aunty Lee and Aunty Elaine for welcoming us into their hub and sharing so generously their stories and skills.

Judy & Cally

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. A warm atmosphere and a great experience, it has really motivated me to paint as it is very therapeutic. Would love to do this again.

What a beautiful day. No stress, just relaxation.Great therapy. Would eagerly attend another group.

They told us to relax and just paint and for people just relaxing, the quality was quite amazing. Looking at peoples artwork was almost as much fun as doing it. The soup was also good.

I had a really good morning painting and talking to all the women at my table. Great to see everyone visiting each other’s tables and the place became a pop-up gallery for a while there. By lunch everyone was chatting and enjoying the great lunch provided. The energy was really enjoyable and it was great to share stories, culture and art.

I had a good time meeting everyone. Relaxing. Lunch was good. Welcome to everyone that comes to Mingaletta.

Thank you – new colours, new textures…. lots of riches. Thank you.

The painting session allowed everyone, regardless of ability or experience to just play with paint without expectation or judgement. As adults we tend to restrict ourselves because we feel that the end result will not be “good.” This workshop was about connecting to the inner child within each of us and having permission to simply express oneself freely; joyfully experimenting without being tied to the end result. Thank you for the opportunity to share my skills with these Art-Full Women.

What a wonderful day of sharing, learning, and creating. The Sisters of Mingaletta embraced us in their culture, sharing, art, stories, making connections, feeding us with their cuisine and inviting us to return. Felt so happy to be a part of such a positive atmosphere of real sharing through art and conversation. It makes one feel a part of something much bigger and that there is a positive force that has been put into motion through the Art Full Women project. Women over 55 in the Art Full Women project have found their voice and through the vehicle of art are using it in very positive ways which is wonderful to hear and see.

A special day of generous sharing and welcoming and warming of the heart. Thank you.

A great day learning, sharing and meeting wonderful people. Very relaxing and a great mindfulness experience.

If you need a bangle in a hurry I can rustle you up one in no time. Nice colours!!

Generosity of spirit – sharing ideas, earning new techniques and stories. And great food – prepared by Auntie Donna.

A lovely welcome from the Aunties and the atmosphere relaxing and encouraging. Generous portions of lunch, great craft teachers, a wonderful day!

Thanks for a creative day where I met so many women and shared laughter and stories. I really enjoyed the painting and found the weaving interesting.

Enjoyed the creative day at Mingaletta. I found the ladies very informative a very accommodating. The art, weaving and company was very inspiring. Thank you for the day and that you Art-Full Women for organising this event.

A really inspiring day: wonderful activities, great food, good conversations and I’m feeling privileged to to spend time with the indigenous women. A heartfelt thank you to everyone and especially to Lynelle and Auntie Elaine and Auntie Sue.

What a lovely day. The hospitality and warm welcome was a start to a day of creativity – great music – eating and chatting – Thank you.

A very special day! I feel so blessed to have been a part of this creative experience. The Aunties and Sisters have been so welcoming and generous with their knowledge, stories, food and warmth. The Bush Soup and Johnny Cakes were to die for!! A fabulous day with so many wonderful women. Thank you to all xxoo.

A wonderful day learning about Art & Culture and the opportunity to meet new like minded people. So much Aboriginal history has been lost in this country, it was wonderful to see it being celebrated. An experience I enjoyed and will remember always. A big thanks to Mingaletta for this day of recognition and learning.

Mingaletta has been closed a lot during Covid, so this has been a wonderful day, hearing the happy chatter as women learn a little about Aboriginal Culture and about Mingaletta.

I enjoyed both workshops. It was lovely spending time with other like minded women. I especially enjoyed the bangle making – amazing to think that you make from a piece of grass. Thank you Mingaletta. I look forward to more workshops in the future.

A wonderful day shared with the Aunties and like minded ladies – held in respect and adventure. I had a chance to explore my past heritage and my Australian love – the things that support and hold my love for my “new nation” of 48yrs – and look back on my nation and birth. Hold both gently and explore through art and story. Lunch allowed connection and delight, weaving was magic for working, creating and sharing. Thank you AFW & Mingaletta for letting this door open. Deeply appreciated.

Mingaletta Sisters sharing their Culture, Art & Stories – 19 June, 2021

The workshop at Mingaletta led by sisters of Mingaletta and elders was a total experience of sharing stories, culture, traditions, making positive connections and bonds being formed through a full day comprising of two separate workshops morning painting and afternoon weaving led by elders.

The organisation was wonderful with easy registration for the day and Covid safe procedures in place. The air was abuzz with a sense of excitement and expectation. The workshop area was set up with a series of tables with all art supplies needed to create a small canvas.

Acknowledgement to Country was done by Aunty Elaine and an acknowledgement and thankyou to our sponsor Bendigo Bank Ettalong Branch and the Sisters of Mingaletta by Artfull Women representative.

The smell of freshly cooked homemade soup filled the air with promise of a repast to come. The table had an array of bush tucker fare with myrtle muffins, johnny cakes, Davis plum jam made for a great start to the day with participants able to add a taste of the bush to their morning tea.

All tables were filled with approximately 40 participants eager to make a start on activities. Our instructor guided us on the array of tools we could use and the appropriateness of using different mark making – dots are okay, but cross hatching is a signature of particular indigenous artists and therefore not possible to use.  The wonderful thing is that there was no right or wrong, no special goal with our images. We were encouraged to create, first closing our eyes and grounding ourselves and visualising things and places that are familiar to us.  We worked till 12.30 as images began to appear, the room was filled with conversation and connections were made.

At lunch Brush Turkey soup was served made by Aunty Donna for all to share. It was absolutely delicious and a special recipe. It was wonderful to see combined groups sharing greetings, conversations while sharing food.

The Weaving workshop in the afternoon was led by Aunty Elaine, Aunty Sue and Aunty Lee. Participants could choose to make either a woven bracelet or a basket.  Once again groups were guided through the steps required to create. An elder who had come to visit, 90 years of age commented on the friendly, wonderful, sharing atmosphere and the activity. She said she felt so comfortable she could stay there as the activity in the workshop made her so happy.

At the end of the day Aunty Elaine thanked all for coming and for a wonderful day. Testament to the success of this day was the invitation to all participants to return for Thursday women’s days to come along and share in discussion and activities.  Participants were also invited to come along and attend weaving workshops on the first Saturday of the month and join in with the sisters of Mingaletta.

All thanks to Bendigo Bank Ettalong Branch for sponsoring this day and providing an opportunity for Sisters of Mingaletta to share their stories, art and culture with all participants and forging connections on the Peninsula and elsewhere allowing creativity and understanding to flourish and new friendships and connections to be forged.

Therese Gabriel Wilkins – Trees

Weaving Our Stories – Fridays – 16th April – 4th June

I started working with women and weaving a few years ago when I got a grant to take a group out in nature to weave. It was so successful, and I really saw the need to work with women. Many women in this age group have suffered illness, loss and bereavement, redundancies, or moved to a new area and are struggling to meet other like minded women. Many also suddenly find they have time to learn new things, pursue new interests they didn’t have time for when raising families and working.

My initial workshop plan was over 3 weeks to introduce different techniques, to provide a foundation from which to work. After this we’d finish off any unfinished pieces, go back over any techniques as required, expand on their knowledge and add in any new techniques as needed, or expand on materials. Allowing self-expression on their own projects.

As expected they found what they enjoyed doing, and the materials they liked. They brought in images they had seen, and we explored how to make it and materials to use. I included notes for each technique, a list of suppliers, some reference artists to research, reference books, information on how to process, store and use plants. They could then continue their weaving journeys independently.

The course went as I expected, I expected the bonding and storytelling. Over the period of the course we covered close to every topic known to man with many stories, anecdotes and viewpoints thrown in.

What was new was the discussion around Covid, how it affected their lives and lives of their families, thoughts and fears for the future and lots of talk around how to live in Covid times and the ins and outs of vaccines and who was having them, their experience, their viewpoints on the vaccines. Covid was not around during my previous weaving group, so it was very important for us to enter these discussions. How people coped with lockdowns, how they were keeping safe, how they maintained their connections and physical and mental health during these times. But what was very fascinating considering all the world topics we discussed was the amount of holding space for one another, sharing viewpoints with no judgement, a complete space of safety to be vulnerable and to be able to speak your truth without it entering into a heated debate. It was such a gentle and accepting space which allowed everyone to speak and share their wisdom.

There was much laughter, there was a lot of understanding, and support. It was a great success for learning, sharing and creating a new community where many of the participants will continue to meet and take their friendships forward.

It was great doing the drama games at the start of each session, it broke the ice, raised the energy of the group, created laughter and shared jokes.

I would have liked to do longer sessions, but I already had commitments. I would have liked to be able to do some sessions in nature – but the weather! Also the timing I chose for that location was not the best, everyone ran out the door as quickly as they could to miss getting stuck in the horrendous local school zone traffic. A learning for next time!

But everyone learnt a range of techniques, they all enjoyed the learning and making new connections and friendships. It was a fabulous experience for everyone, me especially.

Lisa McArthur-Edwards

Repository Of Treasures – 8/5/21 – 9/5/21

Repository of Treasures was a delightful weekend of fun, laughter, smiles, sharing of stories, drama activities and creation of wonderful books.

Participants were asked to bring along memorabilia, favourite collage pieces, photos, recipes to add to their books when created.

The day started with drama games with Brenda which provided opportunities for relaxation and fun getting to know each other before the workshop began.

With the guidance of art facilitator Trees, the ladies were led through a series of techniques and allowed to play with mark making, colour and design leading to the production of their own unique covers, insert pages and ties.

Stories began to flow as treasured items were enclosed in the books and pages started to fill with photos, art work, pieces lace etc.

It was wonderful to see such happy faces and comments such as “It has been a joyful journey through important aspects of my life.”

“Thankyou this has inspired me to start creating again”.

“This has been a vision to me of what is possible without too much human intervention in the process of art. I did not know that you could make such art without brushes”.

Therese Gabriel Wilkins – Trees


“I have very good time to enjoy this painting group. I have learned lots about art, about life. Thank you very much!!!”   Guanglan (Margaret)

“Very many thanks for such an inspiring and festive workshop. The process has taken me back through a wonderful revisit of significant aspects of my life – fabulous.”  Margaret

“Great workshop, Therese  is a wonderful inspiration full of generosity. Thanks Brenda.”  Judy

“I had an amazing time. I didn’t know you could make these little books and use them for a variety of things,  all the while letting your imagination run riot.” Michelle

Repository Of Treasures + Happiness Doll Workshop

I found the Art-Full Women workshops wonderfully inspiring.

The Repository of Treasures workshop has resulted in an ongoing visiting of memories and the compilation of these into a very special book – one which I will always treasure.

The Happiness Doll workshop was also very inspiring. I have continued to work on the doll during the weeks after the workshop. The presence of this doll in my life never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Very many thanks for creating these wonderful experiences for older women and for encouraging us to participate in these creatively inspiring programs.


‘This is Me’ Mixed Media Workshop – 27 & 28 Feb + 1 March

​​Involvement in this wonderful project came about when Kim Vredreveld approached me and asked if I would be interested in facilitating some art workshops for the Art-Full Women project whose main aim was to give voice to women over 55 through art. These voices to be shared in stories that would evolve as the art was formed, friendships and connections created.

I was totally interested and loved the idea of art in all forms for women over 55 and excited to design mixed media workshops that would not only inform and instruct but illicit images and books that would trigger stories and provide a safe environment where creativity and fun went hand in hand.

The plan was to have two intensive workshops one three days and the other two. The first workshop to firstly have fun and learn the techniques of mixed media and then to create an image of themselves, (This is Me), either a portrait or an image that was representational of who they are, their experiences and stories.

The second workshop was to initially learn how to create a concertina book and design the cover using mixed media and embellish the inserted pages. Then to add to this book their Repository of Treasures e.g., stories, poems, images, recipes from grandma, favourite quotes. It was envisaged that these books would not only be works of art but keepsakes full of treasures of the participants’ lives.

Both these workshops included a wonderful component where Brenda Logan led drama games and activities that would see complete strangers, laugh, unite and share.

The plan unfolded with participants having a wonderful journey exploring mixed media techniques over the first day and using this knowledge and fun to create a portrait or representational portrait of themselves. Stories started to emerge over the three days of where participants had been, what they had done in their lives with explanations of the symbols and collaged adornments to their portraits.

The second workshop also achieved its goal with concertina books being created and wonderful imagery and additions being entered into them for final reveal of finished works at the exhibition. The shared stories were beautiful with tales of compositions written at ten years old, of the sense of child like joy of one participant with being free to mix and play and blow ink across a page having lived in a restricted environment.

Participants had fun, shared stories, created works, learnt new skills, made new friends and connections and left with a sense of achievement and looking forward to presenting their work.

In the future, to add to the mixed media experience, introduce the participants to Nature Printing /Poetry, allowing them to create in and with natural objects bringing their environment onto the page coupled with their written thoughts.

Where women share, create, bond, have fun not only is art created but health abounds.

Therese Gabriel Wilkins – Trees

‘This is Me’ Mixed Media Workshop

Happiness Doll Project  –  24 & 27 May, 2021

Initially I thought a doll-making workshop wasn’t for me but I’m glad I changed my mind, it was a lot of fun. Rachel ran the workshop from her house. Her lounge room, where we mainly worked, was cosy, warm and welcoming. She scattered dolls around the room.

We chose the materials for our dolls from the materials laid out on her bed, plain for the body, repetitive patterns for the legs and more complex patterns for the skirts. We weren’t supposed to match things, we were supposed to go with our instincts but my instincts kept matching things.

We cut out the pieces then Rachel sewed them with her machine and we stuffed them, politely. Then she sewed the stuffed pieces together while we did the skirts. Midway through all this, Rachel’s mother Carolyn showed up and we soon had a lively discussion going on the problems of being elderly and having to deal with computers.

Judith contended that people were often reluctant to volunteer because of the reliance on computers. Having worked with computers my entire life, I wisely kept my mouth shut. Carolyn teased me anyway. It made the work go faster, sewing and talking. Then we were onto sewing the hair with wool. It stood out in all directions, which is kind of like my hair anyway.

That was all we had time for, we’re going back to finish faces and hearts. Mine looks bright and cheery, she’s going to sit on my bed with the teddy bear I made a few years ago.

Life Drawing Workshops Report from Sunshine Wood – 15/3/21 – 26/4/21

Over five weeks we explored the female form in various mediums. With the aid of a life model our students were able to learn to draw the human form and learn to expand their art with details like light and colour.

Week one

We began with linear drawings of the female form with charcoal. We started with quick two minute drawings then moved onto longer drawings, up to twenty minutes. The students learned how to place their image on the paper- composition and to also look at all dimensions of the figure in space.

Week two

Our students explored drawing and painting the human figure with ink and drawing over the top with charcoal. They learned how working with different mediums can bring challenges and different outcomes. Students also began to draw their works in three dimensional space.

Week three

Week three was an exploration of collage to make their images of the figure. They enjoyed working with colour and using colour to define light and shade on and around the female shape.

Week four

The students played with clay. They really had to look hard at the density of the figure, the positive and negative space around the human shape and they learned to translate mass in space into their clay sculptures.

Week five

This final day was revising all the mediums from the last four weeks, so students were encouraged to re engage with which mediums they enjoyed the most and further explore that.

Over the five weeks, all of our students progressed greatly and their artistic skills and knowledge along with their confidence grew exponentially. They can all now successfully draw a figure and also understand figure composition and measurement. They also now have knowledge of different mediums and how they can use them to approach life drawing and basic figure sculpting. The women were an absolute pleasure to work with and this project is much needed in the community. I know the participants are all very proud of what they have produced and have made some strong lifelong friendships.

Life Drawing with artist Sunshine Wood – 15/3/21 – 26/4/21

“Reconnecting to your Divine Creative spark – Acceptance for who you are.”

“This class took me to a place of inner peace because I left my troubles at the door.”

“I found it very empowering. It increased my confidence as an artist and taught me a lot about the human body.”

“For people with different background, this class is a blessing. Because you not only find your hidden talents but because you can easily communicate with people and better understand their culture. We forget here not politics here which us us and focus on human nature.”

“This life drawing class has given a varied group of women a venue to explore their creative abilities. For me it has been a very positive experience.”

Life Drawing feedback - drawing of a seated nude
Life Drawing with artist Sunshine Wood

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