• Luana Spadafora

Jennifer Ferguson, Founder of Art & Wine

Art and wine: the ultimate power couple – like the ones who match each other’s outfits and work out together (but not so nauseating). A Pinot for your inner Picasso kick-starts the creative juices. A few vinos deep and you’re a self-appointed art critic. Throw in some antipasti, a cheese board and hey presto – you have a pARTy.

Earlier this year Jennifer Ferguson, a Melbourne-based artist, foodie and wine enthusiast, envisioned a safe space for female-identifying and non-binary people to create art. Paired with wine and a lavish grazing table and BAM! – Art and Wine was born. But this isn’t your average paint and sip class: the intimate workshop delves into themes of femininity and sexuality, empowering women to love themselves without shame or embarrassment. It’s deliberately bold and fearless because, in the words of Henri Matisse, ‘creativity takes courage’ (and wine is a form of liquid courage too, right?).

I interviewed Jennifer to learn about her story and the intentions behind Art & Wine.

1. Tell us about Art & Wine.


Art & Wine is a series of creative workshops that are both quirky and stimulating. They serve as a sanctuary from the daily grind (and our hectic lives!) and an opportunity to explore important topics such as sexuality, shame and self- expression. My focus is to create a space where people can unpack ideas and discover their personal feelings through the act of art-making.

2. What inspired you to start this project?


My art practice has brought great meaning and value to my life – it has helped me make sense of the world and played a vital role in my emotional development. While I was working in community arts and experimenting with different workshops, I recognised the growing demand for creative retreat and self-expression. Making art guides us deeper into what requires to be released. When we become embodied in our creative expression, it is a very cathartic process.  


3. Why are these workshops aimed at women?


Art, while not limited to, but can be used as an instrument for creating deeper levels of conversation about what matters. My work is intimate and touches on subjects that are my own and other lived experiences. I want women, those who identify as women and non-binary people to feel comfortable and safe while we dive into such topics. Eventually, I plan to open more workshops to the wider community because an exchange of stories creates a deeper understanding of each other. I believe this is important in shifting social dynamics.

4. Tell us about your career background and studies. 


I completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at RMIT in 2016 and I'm currently studying Mental Health at VU. I was an artist-in-residence at Brimbank City Council and spent the last two years as an Art Advisor working to build a true representation of 1st Generation Australians, who suffer through intergenerational trauma. My focus has been holding community art workshops that transcend from young children to adults. I received an Art Activation Grant in 2018 which funded my series of child-centred workshops called ‘Every Hero has a Story’. My practice is largely influenced by personal history, the emotional body and ritual. My latest body of work ‘Katawan at Gunita’, which is Tagalog for Body and Memory, explores the relationship between the body and psyche through a series of self-portraits. This journey has now led me to provide intimate workshops at Schoolhouse Studios in Collingwood where I will be guiding the individual development and facilitation of classes that nurture emotional wellbeing. 


5. What's your advice for artists launching their own businesses?


As artists, we're told it's not a real job and that we won't be able to make a steady income from pursuing such a career. I say- bugger that! If you love it you make it work, but do your research first. Prepare and figure out how your skills can be of service to the community, and make money your friend without shaming your inner artist (after all, you need money to fund all of this!). Lastly, recognise your value throughout your work.

6. When's the next workshop and how can we sign up?


The next workshop will be ‘Honour Thy Yoni’ which will run in 4 weeks’ time. To keep up to date with details and how to purchase your ticket, head to the Art & Wine Instagram page @_artandwine or Facebook page @artandwinemelbs.

As featured on Onya Magazine.

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©2019 by Luana Spadafora