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moonlights as a musician at night and loves

Meetup to connect with like-minded people

“who question the world, government and

society around us”.

Professional artist Judy-Joy Bell didn’t use

Meetup to start her group but she has found

250 new friends who share her passion for art.

Bell started a Brisbane branch of international

network Urban Sketchers, a group that meets

every week at different locations in Brisbane’s

CBD and inner suburbs to draw their vision. Bell

organises weekly Tuesday morning sketch groups

and regular weekend meetups through Facebook,

Flickr and email.

“Drawing can be a solitary hobby but by

sketching with others, I pick up new techniques

and styles,” says Bell. “As an artist I am always

learning from other people. It’s a great bunch of

people and we have a lot of fun.”

The mix of members ranges from students

to retired people, beginners and professional

artists. Using pen, ink and watercolours, the

group (usually about 12 at each meet) studies a

different location for two hours or so – such as

the Botanical Gardens, South Bank, Paddington

and Fortitude Valley – and then breaks for tea to

talk about their work.

“Social media has been a blessing but not

all members have Facebook or Flickr accounts.

Word of mouth still brings many members,”

says Bell.

Two years ago Kate Jefferay, 42, founder of

craft group Kitsch Stitch , didn’t know anyone

who shared her hobby. “Now I’ve found a really

great group of women who enjoy exactly the

same thing as me. Instead of doing it at home in

isolation we have created a little community.”

Jefferay began the group through Facebook

and Instagram and they meet once a week for

knitting, crochet, macramé, weaving, sewing and

other crafts. She also holds workshops a couple

of times a month. “There is a real resurgence

of interest amongst younger people. Previously

people would learn from their mother or

grandmother but crafts aren’t necessarily passed

on between the generations if families don’t live

near each other.”

Passing on craft skills is just the reason Melanie

Thompson, 30, joined the group. “I didn’t learn

knitting or crochet from my grandmother and I

would love to teach it to my three girls,” she says.

“I love doing something for myself once a week,

too,” says Thompson.

Long-time crafter Jefferay and her group meet

at a local café in Brighton, EclecTea. “Being part

of the local area is an important aspect of the

group. It’s all part of that sense of community.

People might research their hobby online but

they like human contact and asking questions,”

she says.

Plane spotting is also finding a new generation

of enthusiasts with the help of social media. Beau

Chenery, 26, joined the group Brisbane Aviation

Photographers more than 10 years ago after a

pilot friend took him to Brisbane Airport to see

a rare US Air Force plane. Today the group’s 200

members include women and children.

“Planes aren’t an old person’s thing,” says

Chenery, who often meets fellow enthusiasts

spontaneously through Facebook or texting.

“The more social media gets into it, the more

young people join in. I’ve met some of my

closest friends through the group,” he says.

After a decade of sharing his photographs

with Brisbane Airport’s social media team

Chenery was invited to be one of their official

photographers for the G20 conference in

November and his photographs were made

available to social media.

The data network engineer practises his

hobby every few weeks between Coolangatta

and Brisbane Airports. “Both would rank as the

friendliest airports in Australia with excellent

viewing areas. In between aircraft arriving and

departing, we share tips and talk about past and

upcoming trips around the world. I travel to

other airports overseas and interstate.”

BNE March/April



Urban Sketchers