Experience the thrill of releasing the fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at hands-on workshops at The Polished Opal.
Each visitor receives three opals to polish under the guidance of opal polishing expert Sonja van As, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.
Opals are the Leura artist’s latest obsession.
More specifically, the roulette game of polishing them to discover hidden treasure and release the iridescent fire – and value, within a gem of rare bank balance-boosting proportions.
I think I've found my nirvana – this is all my loves in one,’’ she says.It’s the damn colour. I just need to capture iridescence, that three dimensional depth. I don’t know why – I’m in love with rainbows maybe.’’
Opal polishing is like
chasing the rainbow’’:It’s like gambling, very exciting.’’
Van As’ artistic journey began “the day I was born’’ in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1962.
“I think every Dutch person has a famous artist in them somewhere in the past,’’ she says.
Her grandparents were artists, her brother, father and grandfather were photo lithographers.
“I just always loved to draw and create. Everybody else would be outside playing and I’d be drawing my hands or feet in every possible way.’’
After earlier dropping out of art class when her children were babies, van As achieved a TAFE fine arts diploma in the 1990s and was introduced to the whole gamut of mediums.
In 1999, she was one of 15 sculptors involved in the Blue Mountains Council Wentworth Falls Sculpture Project using local sandstone to create seed pods of local native plants.
She has been involved in many exhibitions and community events, and in 2013 won the Artifact, Art Based on Waste competition locally, going on to claim the NSW title in the Dubbo Art To Waste competition in the “open functional’’ category with a necklace made with resistors with resined butterfly wings as pendants.
During the years, she has dabbled in pen and ink works, focused on resin layering and polymer clay, felting and stained glass, and mastered printmaking.
Silver jewellery is a latest fad – along with metal stamping, soldering, 3D resin painting and stone polishing.
However, her art is always inspired by beauty and nature, like her bark pieces, silver jewellery and the butterfly wings she sets in resin.
“I think nature is amazing and I want to set it off as well as I can because nature is better than anything we can make. I try to capture the beauty of nature but I also try to imitate it.’’
Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at her Leura studio at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.
No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.
Cost: $190 per person. Bookings essential: phone Sonja van As on 0448 725 830 or email email@example.com.
By Ellen Hill for Springwood Art Show Photos: David Hill
The first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains will once again showcase outstanding talent from established and emerging artists from the area and raise funds for school student resources from August 25 to 27.
Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), Springwood Art Show directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales plus all proceeds from admission, café, raffle and artworks used to buy educational resources.
The event which helped establish the Blue Mountains as a recognised “city of the arts’’ will be a chance to admire more than 400 artworks from more than 100 local artists, photographers and galleries.
Visitors can snap up an original work to decorate their home or office for reasonable prices, including from featured artist Sue Gasser who has built a career painting the natural beauty of her surrounds.
One lucky art show visitor will take home a Sue Gasser painting worth $850 as a raffle prize. Tickets for your chance to win Gasser’s King Parrots With a View painting will be $2 each or three for $5.
Also on sale will be a range of artisan work such as handcrafted jewellery, woodwork and gifts.
A highlight this year will be the encouragement of young and emerging artists through the `Make your mark’’ theme to celebrate Springwood High School’s 50th anniversary and more than $5000 in prizes across a range of medium and age categories
Springwood Art Show will be officially opened at 7pm on Friday, August 25, by Blue Mountains Cultural Centre exhibitions manager Sabrina Roesner.
“The Springwood Art Show, the first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains, is a wonderful initiative that provides a platform for our young emerging artists and celebrates the creative and vibrant community that we live in. I very much look forward to seeing the students’ work and opening the show on 25 August,’’ she said.
P&C president Julia Thurling said: “Everything we do as a P&C is for the benefit and wellbeing of students of Springwood High School. The art show not only raises funds for resources which support students of the school, it is a long-recognised event on the wider community calendar and fits nicely with the Blue Mountains community interest in the arts.’’
Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 25 to 27, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities and a café throughout the weekend. Opening hours from 7pm to 10pm Friday, 10am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday. Tickets: opening night $20 includes supper and wine; general admission $5 adults, $3 concessions, $10 families Saturday and Sunday. Go to springwoodartshow.org.au for more information.