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Quack-ers About Art

Inspiring studio facilities and creative connections enable Venessa to express and evolve her visual style.

For talented, award-winning artist and disability spokesperson Venessa Crane, art is an integral part of her daily life. For the past three years, she’s been attending Unisson’s art classes where she’s been supported to hone her techniques and develop her unique style.

When she began art classes with Unisson, Venessa was already an accomplished artist, but she was intrigued by the diverse range of mediums offered and the opportunity to work with art professionals and alongside fellow artists. These opportunities, within a supportive and inspiring artistic environment, have enabled Venessa to explore her artistic style with new mediums, such as paper-pulp and ceramics. 

“I’m very much into variety and exploring different mediums and I’m hoping to get a feel for what I like and introduce new elements into my work,” says Venessa.

Venessa’s work includes multiple stylistic genres from the playful to the more traditional, including a solo exhibition of her portraits, but she’s best known for her prolific duck artworks inspired by Donald Duck. Vanessa has great affection for Donald that goes beyond his cute, cuddly and humorous side to his more human-like characteristics that, as a child, she could relate to.

“As a child, I liked his quirky personality,” she says. “He’s very determined and he does get a bit hot under the collar with frustration sometimes and I can see that in myself as well.”

There is bravery in artistic expression, as an artist’s style is often a reflection of themselves. This is something that Venessa embraces and has never shied away from. She explains that her role of spokesperson for people with disability developed from her experiences as school captain at Allambie Special School and when she later completed her HSC by correspondence. “I had to get out there and speak,” she says.

“I absolutely love it!” says Venessa, “it’s nice to have collaboration from everybody. I really look forward to coming.”

An artist’s style continually develops and evolves with each artwork and, whilst Donald will always hold a special place in her heart, Venessa’s recent works have led her to create a new character, QuackStar. QuackStar’s character is still under development, but Venessa can share that he’s a duck with beautiful, fluorescent, rainbow wings and, as QuackStar is her own creation, she will be able to sell her artworks.

“I’m extending myself at the moment. I’m doing a few designs of another duck called QuackStar and I’ve started a sculpture of a duck with rainbow wings. As much as I love Donald, I’m in my comfort zone designing another duck and there won’t be any copyright restrictions,” she says.

Venessa was thrilled when, in early 2020, Unisson’s three art studios merged to become the Blue Apple studio and moved to new custom-designed premises in Terrey Hills. As well as having floor to ceiling windows with excellent natural light and a bush outlook (and the occasional passing duck), all the art facilitators are within the same space at the same time and it’s easy to move between art mediums and to connect with other artists.

“She sees the same people each time, so they build up a rapport, and she comes with a really lovely support worker who feels like another member of the team,” says Unisson Art Coordinator Heidi Fergusson.

“I absolutely love it!” says Venessa “it’s nice to have collaboration from everybody. I really look forward to coming.”

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