Moving across the country to start from scratch may seem daunting, but for one Bunbury resident it provided a fresh start to discover a new art community.
Sheree Dohnt moved from Wollongong to Bunbury with her husband and three-year-old daughter last February and used the challenge of a new beginning to branch out.
“I had to seek out like-minded people,” she said.
“My mission was to make friends and the way I did that was through my art.
“I beelined for Bunbury Regional Art Gallery and I started volunteering there.
“I met the art director, Joanne, at her first exhibition opening and she let me help out.”
Now Sheree works as a gallery attendant at BRAG and finds herself constantly inspired by the work around her and the people she meets.
“It’s really helped my art practice because I’m surrounded by art every day and I get to meet artists, people who love art, I get to engage with the community and people who haven’t even been to the gallery before,” she said.
Sheree said she loved being part of a creative team and found working at the gallery provided her with extra insight into a different side of the art world.
“From that I’ve also landed myself a job at Jackson’s Drawing Supplies,” she said.
I’m living the artistic dream — I get to meet artists and talk about their practices and what they need from us.
“Having both of those sides of it is just a dream and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t moved to Bunbury.”
Since she was a child, Sheree has found herself drawn to art and can’t remember a time when she wasn’t creating or making.
“I went straight from high school and did a creative arts degree at the University of Wollongong, but once I came out from that I didn’t know where to go from there,” she said.
“… I had the skills to create but I didn’t know what my purpose was.”
It was then she pressed pause. Sheree took some time off to discover who she was and learn more about the world and said all of that had led her to where she is now.
My art practice now is quite autobiographical and I paint things that I’m going through and hope they relate to other people.
Through mainly watercolour and line work, Sheree expresses her experiences and innermost thoughts on the canvas and said she hoped people could always see something deeper within her work.
“As a woman, a wife, a mother — I delve into the mental health side of all of those things,” she said.
For Sheree, it’s not just about representing a likeness in her portraits, she wants her work to say something.
“I hope people take away a feeling of they’re not alone,” Sheree said.
“I’ve felt alone in this for a while and it’s a bit emotional for me, but I hope people feel hopeful about what I make and walk away and look into it a bit deeper than face value.”
Her artistic career came full circle when she had her work displayed at BRAG for the South Western Times Art 2020 exhibition — she was on show at the place she found an artistic community in Bunbury.
“It kind of cements my place here, coming from where I have,” Sheree said.
“It’s been a journey but it makes me feel like people are listening to me.
“I’m really proud I’ve been able to work in the arts because that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”