Karen Steenbergen moved to Torquay from Altona about two years ago in search of a thriving art community by the water.
Luckily for the ceramicist, art teacher and community development worker, she’s not only found a place to call home, she’s discovered how artistic mediums can bring the most vulnerable people together.
Holding a diploma in ceramics from Holmesglen Institute and boasting over 10 years’ experience behind the pottery wheel, Karen enjoys the hands-on nature of the craft and its ability to stimulate meaningful discussion.
“I work on a number of different projects and use pottery or ceramics as an activity to engage communities,” Karen said.
“I find it often helps with bringing people together who perhaps don’t know each other that well or are feeling disconnected.
“I see the joy in people coming together more than the end product – it’s kind of the journey and the process of learning something new.”
Karen – who runs intimate classes out of her Torquay studio – set up a stall at this year’s Torquay Nightjar Festival and joined the Surf Coast Arts committee in a bid to network with creatives in the area.
The jack-of-all-trades has an extensive background in community development, a passion she channels through her work with Improving and Promoting Community (IPC) Health.
“I work three days a week for IPC Health on community arts projects. I put in applications on behalf of IPC Health to Wyndham City Council, twice this year and last year, and was successful in getting funding to some big community art projects.
“I’ve been granted $20,000 each for two projects.”
The first project will see Karen work with the Indigenous Wathaurong