Artist: Cheryl Halliday

Artist: Lorrie Morgan

Inspiration: Lowell Herrero

The FDAA Milestones

In the early 1980s, when the Bauernmalerei style of European influenced traditional Folk Art burst onto the Sydney artistic scene, a major threat to its initial expansion was the almost total lack of suitable local art supplies. The establishment of the FDAA in 1985 provided a means of pooling meagre sources of brushes, books and knowledge, while the early teachers provided their own German paints.

In late 1983, a crippling series of wharf strikes stranded, amongst other things, imported art supplies for many weeks – a local source of paint had to be found.

Two individual strokes of good fortune then introduced the FDAA to Chroma Australia, and Matisse Derivan, now Derivan Pty Ltd. Both these major Australian manufacturers of paints, mediums and varnishes, have continued to supply the needs of FDAA teachers and members for more than twenty-five years, and currently remain major sponsors of all Association endeavours.

Wood was sourced from Op Shops, markets, hobby wood workers (usually relatives!), with IKEA the only source for new pieces.

Friends and relatives who travelled overseas carried long vast shopping lists for books and brushes – the sea captain husband of one of the artists regularly carried extra artistic cargo!

The formation of the FDAA in 1985 provided a dedicated and enthusiastic base for the promotion and encouragement of Folk and Decorative Art throughout Australia. The following are some of the Milestones since that time:

  • First FDAA Newsletter (1986) Initially one typed A4 page, Edition No.94 in December 2009 contained 36 pages, with 4 in colour.
  • First FDAA Exhibition and Sale (1986) at St Ives Guide Hall. Several different venues later, this major annual event has been part of the June Craft & Quilt Fair, Darling Harbour since 2004.
  • First Christmas Sale (1987) at St Ives Guide Hall established a tradition of yearly Christmas Sales. After several venue changes, this sale is back at St Ives as part of Heritage Craft Fair, St Ives Showground in November & December.
  • First Publicity in a National Magazine (1987) a feature article in the Australian Women's Weekly spread information about Folk Art across the nation.
  • First Entries into the Royal Agriculture Show (1989) were entered into no specific class. Entries were judged as ‘Painted Wood’ by the Wood Judge. In 1990, Folk Art had its own class, and the FDAA provided judges and prize money.
  • First Inaugural Art Competition (1989) was the forerunner to the Awards of Excellence Competition, designed to encourage entries of the highest standard possible.
  • First Painting Convention (1991) was held at the Victoria & Albert Guest House at Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. In 1994, a ‘no-frills’ getaway to Bundanoon, NSW began the ‘Painting ‘til You Faint’ alternative to the full convention every second year.
  • First Golden Brush Award (1994) Awarded annually since then, to the member who ‘showed the greatest amount of dedication & service to the advancement of Folk Art in Australia’.
  • First Accredited Teachers (1995) – The ongoing FDAA Teacher’s Accreditation Programme aims to support and assist established and intending teachers, whilst promoting and maintaining high standards of Folk & Decorative Art. Graduates are awarded FDAA Accredited Teacher Certificates.
  • First exhibition of European based Folk & Decorative Art in an Australian public gallery (2002) – held at Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Sydney, ‘Art of the People: a living art’ was a retrospective exhibition by 42 FDAA current & former members. At the time, it was the second most popular exhibition in the Gallery’s history – more than 10,000 people attended.
  • First Travelling Exhibition (2003) – Sydney-based event organisers, Expertise Events, invited the FDAA to tour a condensed version of the Manly Exhibition around Australia & New Zealand as the ‘WOW!’ factor of their 2003 series of Craft & Quilt Fairs.
  • First time major participant of the Craft & Quilt Fair, Darling Harbour (2004) – The annual mid-year FDAA Sale & Exhibition moved from the suburbs to the city.
  • Joint Exhibition with Friends Through Folk Art Guild at Hazelhurst Gallery, Gymea (2005) – a selection of works from Manly Exhibition and from Guild members was exhibited in a traditional gallery style.

Between 1990 and 2010, FDAA members have benefitted by visits from high profile European and American teachers, while FDAA members and teachers have travelled frequently to interstate and overseas venues. Australian teachers have always been highly regarded, with a strong demand for their expertise. Many have published books, while others accepted international study opportunities. Several members have also won international awards during this time.

With the building blocks firmly in place, the FDAA has been able to mature and grow. Today it is a professional and established organisation of artists committed to the continuation and evolution of folk & decorative art in Australia. The future offers much.

Copyright © 2010 The Folk and Decorative Artists’ Association of Australia, Inc.

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