As the work-from-home movement flourishes, co-working cafés displaying original artworks are popping up in regional areas, as well as in cities.
Twelve-year-old Art Tui Bussenschutt, who cites Basquiat and Picasso as influences, is one such artist benefiting from a show in a café in Berry on the New South Wales south coast.
His first solo show, featuring 19 artworks, was a sell-out.
Kate Dezarnaulds, whose background is in arts and festivals, is the founder of WorkLife, a network of co-working spaces that host live music and art exhibitions.
“We created WorkLife to build a network of thinkers and doers, a home away from home so people can focus, get their work done and not be distracted by the washing,” Ms Dezarnaulds said.
“With the changes over the last few years, it just makes sense.”
The organisation has 45 members in the Illawarra suburb of Coledale, and 30 members in Berry.
“It’s my job to make sure when you come to WorkLife, it’s not a sterile office, it’s a community and a place where you can connect with your community at the same time,” Ms Dezarnaulds said.
Scrolling Instagram looking for work to display on her café walls, Kate came across Art’s hand-drawn illustrations.
“For a young person to be able to execute works as consistently as this and for every one of them to be totally different from the previous one, and that they have this great sense of humour and personality about them … I was like, ‘We’ve got to have a show, he’s amazing and I’d love to see more of them,'” Ms Dezarnaulds said.
Less screen time, more time for art
With more than 700 Instagram followers, Art has garnered interest in his quirky, philosophical, hand-drawn characters.
“We are shipping to New Zealand, Canberra, Melbourne and then locally, so it’s quite a good spread,” Ms Dezarnaulds said.
Fliss says Art has a fantastic sense of humour.
“It’s just so unique and interesting and his characters are full of personality,” she said.
She says all of her children are creative but Art spends more time on it.
Art started drawing very young.
“He would create sweet little lead pencil sketches while we were watching sport for the older two, and he would actually be drawing his brother and the team from the sideline,” Fliss said.
Over time, Art gravitated towards the brush and chisel-tipped markers his grandma bought him.
Art says he draws “anyone or anything from my imagination, anything that comes out of my brain”.
“I use geometric shapes or organic shapes,” he said.
“I usually do the face after that, work on the face and the body comes with it.”
“He talks about starting with the eyes and nose and then going from there,” Fliss said.
“We’ve never touched his work, but we have guided him.
“Generally, after he’s drawn it, he’ll come to us, and it’s just in the pen stage, and he’ll ask, ‘What do you think?’
“And we always say, ‘Wow, can’t wait to see it with some colour on it’.
“It comes naturally to him.”
Louis Couttoupes, who owns and operates a restaurant in Kingston, in the ACT, with partner Iwona, recently purchased five pictures.
“We had this empty, underground concrete bunker that we needed to personalise,” Mr Couttoupes said.
“In Art’s art, we found an irresistible joy.
“It’s quirky and incredibly humorous but has a sort of droll melancholy woven through,” he said.
“It’s so clever, with such attention to detail — the scales, the teeth, the shading.
“There’s an element of the grotesque but it’s rendered so sympathetically and wryly you can’t help but feel good when you look at them,” Iwona said.
“We find them so uplifting.”
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