Surf Coast Arts Trail: Cinnamon Stephens

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Surf Coast Arts Trail: Cinnamon Stephens

Opening your doors to a stranger is a hard task, but Cinnamon Stephens is opening the doors to her studio as part of the Surf Coast Arts Trail, giving an insight into the artists living in our community. We had a chat with her ahead of the event next weekend.
Hi Cinnamon, thanks for taking the time out to chat with Forte Magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment? 
Hi Amanda, I am very well at the moment and working hard towards this year’s Surf Coast Arts Trail. I have had a busy year, full of commissioned creative metal artworks, so it is a nice excuse to make some art just for fun.
Have you been involved in the event before? What do you love about the Surf Coast Arts Trail? 
This is my fourth year involved in this fantastic community event. You can find Rowan and me at venue #33! I am one of the original artists from the first trail. I love this weekend because it is great for me as an individual artist to meet new people and potential new customers. It is great for the community to be able to see and meet the artists in their own studio spaces, plus it is fabulous for the whole Surf Coast shire to have so many people travelling about over the weekend.
Surf Coast Arts 2As it is letting people inside your studios, is it a hard thing to let someone into your creative space like that? 
That is a good question! I often say to people that this weekend is a rare opportunity to watch me at work. I am a very private person when it comes to creating, and normally only have the company of the native birds flying about outside my studio. My husband, Rowan, who is now also creating metalwork, is the only person allowed in my studio while I am creating. So, for this special weekend I normally create smaller pieces that I can talk to people while I am welding. It is quite tricky and exhausting because it is like the two halves of my brain need to be working at once. One half is the creative meditative side, whilst the other half thinks of answers to people’s questions, and hopes that people are enjoying what they are seeing at my studio. The result is an occasional very crooked creation, or an odd answer, ha!
And what does your studio look like? What does it have to have for you to be able to create?
My studio is a cute timber, pitch roofed, creative space set back in the garden with a big window and roller door through which to watch the bird life in my sculpture garden. It is quite small, so I need to be fairly organised especially when creating larger commissions like gates and balustrades. I have a small work bench on wheels that I can shift out of the way for mig welding my larger projects and then sit down at for oxy welding my smaller fish, sea dragons and wren sculptures.
Your work is quite sculptural as well, how did you first get into that form of art and did you try many others in your path as an artist?
When I started at Ballarat University, we were exposed to all the art mediums in our first semester, then we were asked to choose our major discipline. I was lucky enough to have my future lecturer, friend and mentor, Peter Blizzard on that first day of sculpture, and he decided to show us all how to oxy weld. For me it was love at first sight! Watching the metals fuse together was alchemic. I was hooked and never looked back. I was fortunate to obtain my first commission while I was still at uni, and this good fortune continues to this day.
You also won a travel scholarship through Ballarat University, what sort of things were you able to learn whilst in American and Europe that you could then transfer to your art?
I felt very fortunate to win that award. It was based on my third year sculpture folio and a written application. I managed to visit all the galleries and sculpture parks I had on my wish list, plus so many more!!! Every piece of art and metalwork that I loved on my travels and documented in my photo albums and sketch books were predominantly from the Art Nouveau era.
Thanks again for having the chat with Forte Magazine, any last words of wisdom you’d like to add for our readers?
I would encourage people to be true to themselves and live their dreams.
When & Where: Variouis locations, Surf Coast Shire – August 15 & 16 – see for more information