Mingenew pop-up shop a huge hit showcasing 15 local artists during Expo and wildlfower season

Shannon VerhagenCountryman
Mingenew's Anne Mitchell and puppy Murphy with one of the bandanas she and fellow local artists Lorraine Bligh and Robyn Soullier create, calling themselves Three Farmers Wives.
Camera IconMingenew's Anne Mitchell and puppy Murphy with one of the bandanas she and fellow local artists Lorraine Bligh and Robyn Soullier create, calling themselves Three Farmers Wives. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman

While the Mid West is abloom with sprawling fields of golden canola and carpets of everlastings in hues of pink, purple and white, there was another type of flower making an appearance in one town on the wildflower trail this year.

A suite of brightly coloured, handcrafted flowers were dotted around the streets of Mingenew during August, leading to a treasure trove of artwork and handcrafted wares.

For the first time, the agricultural community with an artistic flare opened a ‘pop-up shop’.

It launched to much fanfare, with 170 people through the doors on the very first day.

Coinciding with the region’s exceedingly popular wildfower season and Mingenew Midwest Expo, the Mingenew Arts & Craft Collective took over the local sports club for four weeks from August 8 to September 2.

From paintings, jewellery and soaps, to clothing, homewares and everything in between, the works of 15 local artisans — from both Mingenew and Dongara — were on display, with visitors to the town excitedly stopping in on their road trips.

Local artist Sarah Christie, who makes jewellery under the name Pebble & Rock, said it had been a “great addition” to the town that they hoped to continue each year.

“It’s just been a great little spot to sell our goods,” she said.

“Everyone that’s got a stall there has taken a volunteer spot to run the shop a couple of times and help out.

“We’re very lucky in Mingenew that we have a lot of creative people and we’ve had some great reactions to it from people stopping in.”

Local artist Anne Mitchell said it was great for all of the Mid West creatives to be able to showcase what they do together and be a draw card for the town.

“There’s 15 exhibitors and then the local art club have got their paintings in there and there’s a people’s choice award, which is a really big draw card as well,” she said.

“It’s just a great place to visit and have a cup of tea and a chat.”

Mrs Mitchell is one of a trio of artists who call themselves the ‘Three Farmers Wives.’

For the past seven years, Mrs Mitchell, together with Lorraine Bligh and Robyn Soullier have been getting together every few months for “dye days” and hand-dyeing scarves, socks, table clothes and pillow cases.

It all started when the Visitor Centre was looking for local products to sell, and having just done a shibori dyeing course, Mrs Bligh suggested they take on the craft.

Coming from the Japanese word to “wring, squeeze and press,” the technique involves folding, twisting and tying up fabric to produce unique patterns.

“Now there’s 40 different items on sale at the pop-up shop, which really blew me away as I was putting tags on everything,” Mrs Mitchell laughed.

The three dabble in Indigo dye — the same dye used in colouring denim — botanical dye from native plant materials like gum leaves and natural dyes from things like beetroot, as well as block printing, on fabrics including cotton, linen and silk.

“It’s just amazing what you can create — everything you do is different,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“We can never produce the same thing over and over again, so when it comes to our dye day, there’s just so much excitement unwrapping everything, taking all the bands off and seeing the final product you’ve actually created.”

They have travelled the Mid West selling their products at markets and shows, as well as the local visitor centre and Mingenew Bakery.

They have also made their mark on interstate and overseas customers who have seen their work while on holiday.

“It’s amazing,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“Some people pass through Mingenew and they’ve maybe picked up a little pair of socks or something that we’ve dyed and then we get orders for Christmas time coming saying, ‘can you please send me eight pairs of socks.’”

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