Rhea Murray

Rheannon (also known as Rhea – pronounced with a silent ‘a’) is a creative at heart, and has always enjoyed the peace, relaxation and healing that creative practices provide. An advocate for using art to express, to heal, to calm and to connect, Rhea can often be found in her studio creating with her children, especially with her daughter Iylah-Rose who loves nothing more than to make make make!

Rhea’s artworks appear in the gallery, often joining the other artists in group exhibitions and breaking out of her comfort zone to share her creations. She works with alcohol inks, mixed media, collage and acrylics. She has the desire to evolve her artistic practice into more eco friendly forms of creating, including foraging pigments and creating natural paints in the future, and has been experimenting with making paint from natural earth pigments, plant dyes and natural materials.

July 2022 will see Rhea join creative forces with Gennifer Anderson and exhibit in the AC Alcove space with their joint exhibition: Ponder, an open invitation to slow down and ponder about what inspires creativity and forging the time for mindful making.

Rhea shares her artworks through her instagram earth.and.heart.musings and via The Online Collective PS

“The question is always asked,
“Are you an artist?”
and I always stop and smile, because there is no doubt we are all artists, some of us have just grown up and forgotten the joy of creating, so I always aswer with
“aren’t we all?

Rheannon Murray

Rhea finds her greatest inspiration from nature, and being surrounded by the abundance of natural beauty here in Port Stephens (above and below the water). She is always capturing the natural world around her, either through art or through photography.

Rhea is also the owner and creative behind the natural skincare brand, Tahi and Rose Skinfood. Rhea joined the collective in 2017 with her handcrafted, boutique range of skincare. 2022 see’s Rhea take a healing break from formulating and producing skincare, with the hope to re-brand in the future under her Earth and Heart brand…. stay tuned!

“Less is more when it comes to our skincare, we don’t need an entire bathroom filled with different products. Investing in a handful of multipurpose products, made from high quality ingredients (that are literally good enough to eat) should be all that’s needed.
Keep it simple, keep it natural and keep it real”

Rhea Murray, Tahi and Rose Skinfood

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Megan Barrass

Megan is a full-time contemporary artist, living and continuously painting in beautiful Shoal Bay, Port Stephens NSW. Working in the creative field is her life. Megan attained a diploma of Graphic Design and has had 30 years’ experience in the fine art world. Her large format painterly style artworks are found in many homes and commercial projects.

The aim is to create images so others can visually share my passion and optimism about life

Megan Barrass

Megan joined the AC after successfully exhibiting as a feature artist in
2020 and now regularly displays her bright beautiful works as part
of one of our full-time members.

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More about Megan

As half of Megan’s family suffer from terrible hay-fever, she had to come up with a solution to replace the vase of freshly cut beautiful flowers on the dining table that she so desired in her home each week (and the welcome feeling they offer!). The solution was to paint large canvasses of flowers – bunches and bunches of flowers, therefore giving and creating the so desired emotion. The joy that Megan feels for life is reflected in her big, beautiful and colourful canvases.

Megan’s other subject matter is clearly a reflection of her coastal surroundings. Scenes that we all experience capture her attention – drawing the viewer in to focus on and explore the moment. By using both small sketches and photography for her observational studies, Megan will collage the moments together by applying many layers of acrylic paint to the canvas to construct a narrative. Through her paintings, she is able to uplift and transform an environment.

Megan’s paintings, with her perceptive eye and professionalism, have attracted major private and corporate clients.

Megan Barrass is best known for her distinctive floral works and her typically Australian coastal-themed paintings, working with luscious coloured brush strokes of acrylic paint onto large scale canvases.

Her aim is to create artworks with an emotional connection, so others can visually share the passion and optimism.

Alita Knaggs

Alita Knaggs is a mixed media artist, working mostly in landscape. Alita has been involved in visual arts most of her life, and now paints from her Port Stephens home studio after a career in education.

I endeavour to capture qualities of the landscape. For me it is an immersion of light, colour and texture and then the challenge as I respond and represent that pace in my chosen medium”


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More about Alita

Alita Knaggs exhibited at Artisan Collective Port Stephens as our July 2020 Feature Artist before being invited to join as a full-time exhibiting artist soon after.

Primarily a contemporary landscape painter, Alita is inspired by her beloved environment, in particular the coast and forms of Fingal Bay.

Having studied at Alexander Mackie CAE (now COFA) in Sydney, Alita subsequently taught Visual Arts at high schools for many years. Until 2017, she was Head Teacher of Creative and Performing Arts at Tomaree High School in Port Stephens.

Now pursuing the development of her own art practice, she works in a variety of mediums, including oil, acrylic, gouache and mixed media.

Val Spencer-Sun

Val Spencer-Sun is well known Port Stephens jewellery maker, with decades of experience teaching, creating, and selling her hand made jewellery pieces. Val offers a range of unique pieces, all crafted using high quality materials.

I like to combine the old and new arts, using metal, gemstones, colour and design to create wearable art, which may be unusual, sometimes amusing, hopefully interesting”

Val Spencer-Sun

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More about Val

My special interests are the ancient chain maille and wire weaves used for armour. Using these old armour crafts I have designed jewellery and apparel for today.  Using my kits for these adapted weaves I have taught throughout Australia and demonstrated the art in the USA. 

Samantha Walsh

‘Handcrafted Accessories with a Rebellious Spirit’

The Rebel Rabbit was born out of Samantha’s passion for well-designed handmade goods and a desire to live a more creative lifestyle.

I create fun, unique and quirky accessories that I hope will inspire other people to live life a little more boldly

Samantha Walsh

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More about Samantha

Sam designs and makes each item in her home studio in Newcastle, NSW. Her muse was her gorgeous but rebellious bunny – Baxter, the original Rebel Rabbit.

“My inspiration is varied, from muted colour palettes to bright clashing designs influenced by my love of the ‘not-so-serious’ fashion design of the 80’s! My design process is shaped by the use of colour, unity, balance and stylisation. Some pieces start life as a collage or a hand painted design. Others are more fluid with the use of coloured inks and resin.

I use a range of mediums including laser cut wood, acrylic, resin and polymer clay. All findings use surgical stainless steel suitable for sensitive skin. 

Where possible I source all of my supplies from local Australian small businesses.”

Samantha Walsh

Prue Sailer

Prue is a Port Stephens-based artist working in a range of traditional drawing and painting media. She has exhibited regularly over the past 15 years in commercial and public galleries, both locally and interstate. Her works are held in private collections within Australia and overseas and have been published in Australian Geographic.

The natural world is a constant source of inspiration and and is at the heart of my practice. My drawings and paintings are rendered in accurate detail, capturing the character of the subject and reflecting the fascination and respect I have for all wildlife, particularly Australian native species. 

Prue Sailer

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More about Prue

While Prue has a lifelong interest in creating art, her formal artistic career began with the completion of a Fine Art Degree, followed by Honours and a PhD in Natural History Illustration (NHI) at The University of Newcastle, where she currently holds the role of Lecturer in NHI. Her doctoral research explored the visual world of animals. Drawing on scientific research into animal vision, she presented an interpretation of the way selected animal and bird species might see their own habitats, according to what is currently known about their visual systems.

Prue’s formative years were spent in and around Canberra, where her appreciation for wildlife and natural environments began. The natural world continues to provide the inspiration and motivation for her practice and underpins her teaching in NHI. Recurring themes in her work centre on aspects of nature that are often overlooked, the conservation of Australian native species and habitats, and concerns about humanity’s impact on the natural environment.

“I am truly fortunate to be able to combine teaching with my studio practice, where I continue to create new works for exhibitions and commissions. While the Newcastle, Port Stephens and Hunter regions provide a wealth of inspiration, I am also looking forward to travelling throughout our extraordinary country more often, to collect resources for future work.

My paintings are exhibited locally and interstate, and are found in private collections in Australia and overseas.”

Prue Sailer

Peter Masters

Peter Masters is a Newcastle and Port Stephens based photographer. He has been involved in art photography for more than 25 years and while he has built a reputation as a conceptual portrait photographer, his strength and his passion revolve around fine art.  

Peter has exhibited in Sydney, Newcastle and Byron Bay with a focus on the ocean as a constant theme. With titles such as “Saltwater”, “Flow” and “The Zen of the Sea,” his exhibitions have been successful and popular. 

Peter has won awards for his photography, most notably in the USA for his black and white work. Recently he has returned to his boyhood roots in Newcastle and Port Stephens where he feels he is rediscovering the passionate connection that locals feel for their region, the ocean, the harbour and the iconic ocean baths. His recent exhibitions have explored that landscape and what it means to be a Novocastrian.

Photography for me is my way of exploring not only the world around me but also what it means to make art. I want to experience my own creative journey through this medium.

Peter Masters

Artisan Collective Marina Sunset
Peter Masters

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More about Peter

Peter has won awards for his photography, most notably in the USA for his black and white work. Recently he has returned to his boyhood roots in Newcastle and Port Stephens where he feels he is rediscovering the passionate connection that locals feel for their region, the ocean, the harbour and the iconic ocean baths. His recent exhibitions have explored that landscape and what it means to be a Novocastrian.

“I am focused on building my reputation as an art photographer. All of my energy is going into exhibitions, gallery sales and exploring what I hope is a unique style. In the past seven years I have been lucky enough to mount nine exhibitions and I have been able to count each one of them as successful in both commercial terms and in fulfilling my own artistic goals and vision.

Since my boyhood I have been drawn to the sea and every spare moment was spent exploring the local coastline. I still gravitate to these iconic places and much of my photography reflects my love for the ocean and its rhythms and spirit.

Peter Masters

Maria Hine

Maria is a painter and sculptor whose works come straight from the heart. Maria’s artistic pursuit developed later in life and has a rich cultural background. Her painted works are very much expressionism, emotionalism and abstracted responses to colours from Australia, South Italy, the sun and the sea.

I enjoy the process of carving and using Hebel, it comes naturally to me.

Maria Hine

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More about Maria

“In my sculpture practice I utilise different materials seeing 3D form and femininity with curvature and shape.. I’ve studied arts all over and have gained a diploma in Fine Art – Newcastle TAFE and degree in Fine Art – Newcastle University.

I have taken many classes and most notably Foundry Metal Casting at Tighes Hill TAFE and Max Meldrum Method in oils with Pablo Tapia. I have exhibited my works in group exhibitions and solo and was part of a multicultural exhibition in Australian Maritime Museum Sydney.”

Maria Hine

John “Stinker” Clarke

John is a retired school teacher who has lived in Fingal Bay for over 40 years. He has a genuine love and respect for the area which becomes obvious if you read his weekly Port Stephens ‘Examiner’ fishing column or listened to his reports on ABC Radio.

John is well known in the community for his involvement in environmental issues. Fishing was his first sporting love and he remains passionate to this day. To call fishing a sport is a misnomer according to “Stinker” – fishing is a way of life.

Fishing is a way of life. It’s just something that you do. In sport there is some type of structure, generally an opponent and a result, a score, a winner and a loser. In fishing, to my way of thinking, there are no losers. Everyone wins a prize whether you can catch a fish or not. The prize is the recreational experience which can be even more valuable if you share that time with someone.

John Clarke

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More about John

For the past 20 years John has been writing books on fishing, local history and more recently books for children. 

Books about the local area and fishing spots include Something Fishy, Broughton Islanders, FISH Port Stephens, Old Salt, Oysterman and The Outer Light. His children’s books include Stinkpot, Clarabelle and Kerosene Tin Jim, and are illustrated by our very talented Ileana Clarke!

Joana Johnston

Joana spent the early years of her career using her artistic flair for creating Boutique Accommodation Properties and innovative Events, catering to the many highly demanding corporate clients in her portfolio.

Feeling the need for a change in direction, she left the corporate world to bring her passion and expertise into her artistic practice and fell in love with art all over again.

I just love working with various mediums such as resin, acrylics, oils and wax, often combining several mediums to add extra intrigue to my abstract creations.

Joana Johnston

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More about Joana

Joana’s passion and expertise clearly shows in Joana’s art and life – with a keen sense of colour and creativity, her artistic style is bold, bright and joyous.

Joana loves working with various medias such as resin, acrylics, oils, encaustic and Yupo sculpture, adding extra intrigue to her abstract creations.