BNE AUTUMN 2014
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,”
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,”
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.”