Footscray artist Erin Tsubono is the creative mind behind MakersWindow, a new art space for the whole community. She speaks with Benjamin Millar


What’s your connection with Footscray?

I, my daughter Mayo and our ginger cat Chibi moved here from Brisbane five years ago. We made the upstairs of an IT shop on Barkly Street in Footscray our home. There is a long backyard behind the shop, we built a veggie patch, got a dog called Apple, chickens and bunnies. I work in my garage studio doing my ceramics art practice erinswindow, I started opening my garage door and people have been making things with me and firing in my kiln. It’s a happy home!


What do you like most about the area?

We love that people are so culturally diverse, less judgemental, helpful and real. We can be who we are. I love that my neighbours texts me asking if I need anything from the supermarket or if they can leave their kids with me for a couple of hours right now or if they can borrow a roll of toilet paper at 7am!


What are your favourite local places?

Dumplings and More, FCAC, Milking Station, Small French Bar, Bun Cha Co Dao, Cavallaro & Sons, Coe & Coe, Mrs Phuong’s salon, Small Graces, Footscray Finds market, the Sun Theatre and its book shops, and many more. I love just walking up and down on Barkly Street.


What is the idea behind your new art-making community space MakersWindow?

We are building MakersWindow to be a welcoming and inclusive art-making space for all – in order to help create a healthier and more connected community. It is not an artists’ club; I believe doing art should be very accessible to everyone and that everyone is creative! I want the space to slowly empower people to be more confident and happier makers and individuals.

I hope MakersWindow to provide a time and space to be creative, socialise and connect with others in our increasingly busy and often socially isolated and desensitised lives. There are many social problems and gaps in our society, but we could start by doing creative things together with different people and become friends to recognise the complexities and the similarities.


Why do you think clay helps make such connections?

I think clay is a good connecting medium, because it is such a tactile and honest natural material to work with your hands directly. I think it slows us down and helps us to be more mindful of subtle details, colours, textures to appreciate, and how things change over time.

As we start to connect with clay and our senses are stimulated, we are a little bit more connected with ourselves. The more we connect to ourselves the easier we find connecting with others around us, especially in doing fun things together. Clay is earth after all!


What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?

I and my daughter had to move around across three states before settling in here for the safety, escaping from a severe domestic violence situation. But it was in those years of hardships that I learnt about the inner strength, the bravery we all have within us, about honesty to be able to put a hand up and say ‘I need a help’ and about the impact of the kindness of strangers. I wish to give it back to the community.


MakersWindow (311 Barkly Street, Footscray) will officially launch 2-6pm Sunday, July 14 with an exhibition, live music from gypsy jazz quartet South of Samois and screening of short documentaries by So Project.