‘Maker&Smith’ is a creative initiative.
Established by the partnership of Mary Ellen Cliff and Carola Akindele-Obe in July 2017, their sole purpose is to act on a deep-felt ambition – to see the craft sector shine brighter in Western Australia.
Some might say we have lofty ideals – basically we are looking to amplify high quality skills in the craft community; to inject enthusiastic energy and a thirst to achieve high levels of technical and creative accomplishment. We are excited about the renewed interest globally in the handmade, in particular approaches that take traditional techniques and materials into new contemporary expressions.
We have both felt the benefits of travel and exchange, and so we hope to make a contribution to the local scene by showcasing great makers through film, story-telling and masterclasses presented by specialists, invited from interstate and overseas. And to encourage local Western Australian makers to present on the global arena in these ways too.
Mary Ellen Cliff
Mary is a textile and ceramic artist, with retail, teaching and NGO experience. An active member of Perth Studio Potters, she ran the gallery for 18 months and contributed on the Committee for two years (2015-2017). Mary Ellen brings significant governance and strategic experience to the partnership, in particular in the areas of retail and education management. Mary Ellen was until recently a Director of Direct Reach Ethiopia. Relevant prior experience includes owner operator of a designer fashion store, strategic relations for Midnight Basketball WA and director of a small independent school. In her early teaching career Mary Ellen worked in indigenous communities in the Western Desert and Pilbara regions. She now resides on the south coast of WA and is seeking to promote regional crafts and makers.
Carola graduated with a BA(Hons) Design from Glasgow School of Art in Embroidered & Woven Textiles (1987). In her early career she sought traditional craft skills to create woven sculpture working with experts and completing City & Guilds qualifications in basketmaking. Experience in festivals and craft retail with Dazzle Contemporary Jewellery, Artist Open Houses, Charleston Trust and Ragamuffin (designer handmade knitwear) sparked an interest in promoting the skills of makers. During a hiatus in Asia and Africa, Carola worked managing and marketing small and large scale events for charities and contributing as a freelance writer to traveller magazines. Since arriving in Australia in 1997, Carola studied a Masters in Arts Administration (UNSW) and has worked as a project and marketing manager with the Sydney Art on Paper Fair, Biennale of Sydney, Artopia (WA statewide open studios), Art Collective WA and as a writer and editor with The Write Business.