If you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since high school, approaching a canvas can be daunting. But Pink Ember Studio is a new Coburg retail and workshop space helping to take the self-doubt out of creating.
The studio is run by former fashion student Aoife Billings, her brother and fine art graduate Aaron Billings, illustrator Frances Cannon, and tattoo artist Gemma Flack.
Pink Ember opened its railway-siding doors in December last year. There are 14 studio and workshop spaces, five downstairs and nine upstairs, and an outdoor area that can also be used for classes. Aoife and Aaron run weekly botanical embroidery and ceramics workshops, and other classes include painting and resin jewellery making.
“I feel quite intimidated by the art world myself, so I think it’s really important to give people the space to feel those emotions,” Aoife says. “But also the support to help them use those feelings to create something that they’re proud of.”
The workshops run for around two to three hours on weekday evenings, or after the store closes (at 3pm) on weekends, and all materials are provided. Classes generally take the format of a one-hour tutorial followed by some hands-on learning.
“Everyone is excited about knocking off work and coming here to chill out in a creative way,” Aoife says. “And catch up with friends that they’ve made through the process.”
Aoife and Aaron also co-host one-off screen-printing workshops, where you can learn how to mix ink and design your own pattern, then print it onto your medium of choice. These sessions run for two hours and cost $52. Aaron runs his own two-hour comic-drawing, storyboarding and character-design classes too. These sessions cost $90.
If you’re looking to try your hand at a larger project, Aoife runs a garment-making workshop that’s limited to just two students, so there’s plenty of hands-on, one-on-one guidance.
Pink Ember doubles as a retail space on weekends. The shop is subsidised by contributions from the workshops, so there’s no pressure on the team to make sales and turn a profit. Inside you’ll find creations from ceramicist Lucinda Florence, Cannon’s colourful illustrations, playful hand-made accessories from Funky Fun You and more.