A taste of ARTitude

A taste of ARTitude

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Rave About Arts (Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council, and written  by Sarah-Jayne Eeles. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

A taste of ARTitude, teenager Cooper Smallman has a pottery wheel, his own branded business and an impressive body of ceramic works for sale… less than two years ago he’d never even touched a lump of clay.

Cooper Smallman’s story is as much a success story for his achievements as it is an endorsement for the importance of ARTitude’s mission for its community’s youth. While not trying to be all things to all people, ARTitude was started in October 2020 to give local kids a taste of the many and diverse arts practices and outlets that exist, but until then not readily available for youth in the small remote regional towns of Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe. The brainchild of Rave About Arts, the ARTitude program was developed to provide artistic opportunities for local kids to explore their interests, passions and express themselves through various forms of art.

A young boy is covered in clay at a pottery wheel. Cooper Smallman with his large pot. Photo by Karrina Smallman.

No discipline is excluded. From popular dance classes, vocal classes, to painting, ceramics, music, mural art, sculptures and more, Rave About Arts ARTitude program delivers far and wide on the kinds of tasters, introductions and more advanced classes students can experience. Often classes and workshops are run by local artists practising in the region, but opportunities to utilise artists travelling through with touring productions, events and exhibitions are explored too.

Cooper Smallman’s story begins with a clay modelling class he attended and found an affinity with. Exploring his new found passion, hand modelling at first, then pottery on the wheel with the ARTitude Visual Arts program at the local pottery studio, Dunnart Art Studio, the next step was to pair him with studio artist, Cat Tink, who took Cooper under her wing to learn more about the craft. It wasn’t long before Cooper had his own pottery wheel and is working towards having his own kiln very soon. Making pottery has become a part of Cooper’s life and his passion has developed into both an arts practice and a business. As part of his progression from curious teenager to emerging artist, at times it is Cooper now sharing his knowledge and skills with his former teacher as his arts practice evolves.

A young boy sits on the floor hand building a clay pot. Handbuilding. Photo by Dene Bingham.

It’s what makes the ARTitude program so unique and so vital to the community. Its popularity has skyrocketed since its inception and the challenge for the organiser to deliver to the growing demand and capacity for new experiences and opportunities. It’s a demand the organisers are rising to, but the funding has yet to catch up with Rave About Arts dedicating resources to secure the program’s future for the next two years.

Rave About Arts ARTitude champion, Project Manager, Raquel Tacey, sees first hand the impact that the ARTitude program has on the students.

Now in its seventh term, the ARTitue program is funded until the end of the year, but to continue to grow and meet the community’s need, more ongoing funding is needed to continue to have a part in seeding success stories of local youth like Cooper.

You can follow Cooper’s journey on Instagram @onshorepotter. For updates on ARTitude head to Facebook or Instagram @artitude_raa

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