Festival May’d to shine a light on local creators

Rachel Burke works on a lampshade. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

A festival shining a light on Geelong creators, like lampshade artist Rachel Burke, is set to go ahead next month after organisers postponed the event for the third time.

The Highton mother-of-two hopes to join fashionistas, jewellers, painters, drawers, mixed-media designers and more for May’d Arts Festival in August.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” Burke said.

“You can easily run it as a COVIDSafe event and we were always planning to do that.”

Organisers initially planned to run the festival in its namesake month of May, but COVID-19 lockdowns forced them to postpone to June and again to July.

The festival had previously been rescheduled for today but, with restrictions only just easing on Wednesday from Victoria’s latest lockdown, organisers have again postponed to August.

But Burke, whose work has been on display in a window of Creative Geelong’s hub at Centrepoint Arcade for months, has found a silver lining in the repeated delays.

“It would have been done and dusted if it had gone ahead in May, but we’re still talking about it now, so that’s not such a bad thing,” she said.

“It’s given me extra time to see all the pieces that I’ve made together in the window.

“This is the first opportunity I’ve had to put everything together in a single installation.”

The former graphic designer began her “passion project” of crafting lampshades from comics, children’s book covers, pictures of the solar system and more after leaving work to raise her kids.

“A lot of women start crafting while looking after younger children, when they’ve got a bit of time,” she said.

“But the lamp thing just grew and grew. I trawled through op shops and kept finding blank lampshades that were a bit dirty or needed some love.

“You get all these lighting possibilities with vintage papers like maps, old pianola roles, sewing patterns, recipes and sheet music.

“Once people started seeing the light shining through the lampshade, they were amazed.”

A decade ago Burke moved with her family to her husband’s childhood home of Geelong.

“We’ve been in London, Queensland and Sydney, but eventually Geelong pulled us back,” she said.

“We’ve adopted the bay city as our home.”

The “flourishing” local arts scene, “op shops galore” and Geelong’s improving recycling programs only inspired her creativity further, she said.

“It’s such a great environment to take on your passions. Everywhere I look I’m getting inspired.”

She sells her lamps and other unique furniture through her home-based business Patturn Studio.

When the market-style festival finally goes ahead, Burke will join her fellow makers displaying and selling their wares, with a large portion created from reused or ‘upcycled’ materials.

“The majority of the stuff would have been thrown out,” Burke said.

“But if you just think creatively, there’s so much more that can be done.

“Suddenly it’s not a waste – it’s got a new life.

“And I’m only just scratching the surface. There are so many people doing so many amazing things.”

Event director Luisa La Fornara said Creative Geelong was still finalising a date for the festival but planned to hold it in mid to late August.

“We’re committed to making it happen to support our local creatives,” she said.

Details: facebook.com/CreativeGeelong