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Meet the collective supporting local artists financially affected by COVID-19

WORDS BY ISAEBELLA DOHERTY
IMAGES VIA CREAM TOWN

My name is Isaebella. I have worked as a photographer and filmmaker for nearly 10 years, predominantly in environmental documentaries, music videos and photographic portraiture. 

Like many artists, my dedication to fulfilling my creative pursuits has been simultaneously supplemented by a hospitality and events income for the past 13 years. 

When Monday March 16 rolled around, it became pretty apparent that much like many others within the creative community, I wasn’t going to have any photography gigs for a while.

I thought about putting prints back up for sale on my website and realised that many others might be thinking the same thing. So I and started messaging other photographers and artists to see if they’d be keen to get on board. I also messaged my friend Bronte and asked if she’d be keen to help me do launch the shop, as we are both photographers who live in the same town of Castlemaine. 

The next morning, I got to my cafe job to open at 7.30am and saw there was a text from my boss saying that she’s decided to not open the cafe for the foreseeable future. I got home and received a phone call from Centrelink, telling me that I would have to restart my claim – after four months of waiting – because they needed my partner’s ABN’s Profit & Loss statement. I had already given this to Centrelink in February but now it was somehow nowhere to be found, and my claim was now too old to be processed.

After having a panic attack while on the phone to the operator, during which they explained to me there was absolutely nothing I could do but start again, Bronte came over with a croissant and we got to work.

Together we launched Cream Town, an online art shop collective featuring affordable works from local artists financially affected by COVID-19.

In a week, we’ve already got 35 artists live on the store, with over 50 in processing and more expressions of interest every day. We’ve gained over 700 followers, sold over 40 prints and brought in over $4000 since the shop launched last week.

We’re ecstatic about how many amazing people have come our way and the quality of the work is totally mind-blowing. Our current line-up has artists’ from all over Australia, including Lilli Waters, Georgia Smedley, Lekhena Porter, Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher Kidd, Edward Goldner, Angus Scott, Em Jensen, Julia Chetwood, Taner Ufuk, Rory McLeod, Ebony Finck, Maki Levine, Jessica Grilli, Sitara Isis, Bronte Pleasance, Brodie Clark, Zoe Harriet, Zach Britt, Quince Frances, Isaebella Doherty, Ella May, Izzy Huang, Dani Marano, Rachel Unwin-Hatton, Willy Pleasance, Georgina McKay, Sam Kirby, Emily D’Agostino, Lucy Foster, Madi Whyte, Jay Quellin, Frank Lord, Saskia Van Pagee Anderson, Nicole Wong, Pearl Heenan,  Amelia de Weger, Amy Potenger, Amy Woodward, Caitlin, Courtenay McCue, Darsh Senevirante, Eleanor Ysabelle, Genevieve Walsh, Gil Gilmour, Grace Dekay, Jade Piper, Jess Brohier, Josepha Paunot, Juanita Ebbs, Mia Freeman, Nathan Milner, Rebecca Sinclair, Rebecca-Marian Irene, Sebastian Portillo, Sunny Lennon, Thea Elder & Yelly Chuan, with more to be announced.

We’re fortunate to have been able to call upon many people in the arts community (and beyond) to help us get the word out, which has definitely driven a huge amount of the success. And I think a lot of people also, whether financially stable or not, really want to help out. I mean, who doesn’t love getting new art for a very reasonable price? Or sharing an initiative to help artists you love or admire?

I’m so impressed by the engagement from consumers. When I’ve sold work in the past, it’s usually to people with one or two degrees of separation. But with Cream Town, we’ve had sales everywhere from Austin, Texas to Perth. It’s sensational. 

We’ve gone very hard, quite honestly, to be able to have this kind of turn around. I’ve worked the last 10 days straight and all the days have kinda blurred into one, but I feel very energised and inspired by the wonderful humans we’re working with. We’ve got a gorgeous community of people who are beyond supportive and it is making all of the difficulties of this point in time so much easier to face. 

We’re also working with the incredible Hound & Bone Studio in Brunswick, who are the most gorgeous, kind and hardworking people, so we feel very supported in our mission.

It feels like COVID-19 has attacked the artistic community from all angles and burnt our safety nets, but I feel like we’re very used to being resourceful and innovative, so our innate capacity for ingenuity is beaming right now.

I’m really proud and ecstatic about how much our community is banding together and supporting each other. 

I am so grateful that we have Cream Town to throw ourselves into, because I think my mental health would’ve really suffered from this turn of events otherwise. I consider myself incredibly fortunate in this situation, so I’m extra enthusiastic to try and spread that fortune as far and as wide as possible during this time, and always.

isaebella.com/creamtown

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