Phil Smith always dreamed of owning his own church, so when the Bealiba Uniting Church came up for sale in 2018 he jumped at the opportunity to make his dream into a reality.

Together with his partner Helena, Phil has adapted the space for many creative uses, while also taking care to maintain the original church features, including the pulpit and seating pews. With a shared enthusiasm for art and making, the pair often collaborate on their creations, and since buying the church, they have been regular participants on the Tiny Towns Arts Trail.

This year their 112-year-old church building, Divine Studio, will showcase a combination of work by Phil and Helena alongside exhibits and demonstrations by other local Bealiba artists, featuring woodwork, sculpture, textiles, quilting, and Victorian sewing boxes and baskets.

Artists at this Divine Studio include:

Phil Smith: Working with wood is a passion of Phil’s. He visualises the final outcome for the raw material, removing only enough to reveal the natural form and textures beneath the surface, creating functional furniture and sculptures from wood and steel.

Helena Kidd:  Helena is a writer and the author of When the Past Awakens, which was shortlisted in 2020 for Victorian Community History Award. Helena has a new picture book Memoir, Dreams That Come True, and she is keen to chat about the writing process and what inspired this book.

Copies of Helena’s books will be available for purchase at Divine Studio.

Lyndene Higgins: Lyndene Higgins from Bealiba will be joining Divine Studio with her Victorian Crazy Quilt display. Lyndene has created a series of amazing works using remnants of doilies, needle work and more.

Mandy: Mandy has recently moved to Bealiba and will be displaying her beautifully crafted Victorian sewing boxes and baskets. Mandy will also be demonstrating her skills and selling kits for those interested in giving this forgotten craft a try.

Jessica McLean. Having retired from the Australian army and located to Bealiba in 2020, Woodcarver Jessica will be presenting works from her own Arisylaro studio. Each piece is unique and hand carved. representatives of texture the contrasts between hard and soft reflecting upon the essence of dark and light.

Rebecca. Living in Bealiba for 2 years Rebecca keeps herself busy with all kinds of craft. From mug making to printing on tops, chocolate baskets and a lot more. Come see some of her work along with other local artists at the Divine Studio during the Tiny Towns Arts Trail 2023. Go to the Bealiba website to find out more.

While you’re in Bealiba stop in at Hanging Rocks Studio to see Rory Stainton’s incredible rock art, peek in on Tenar Dwyer’s creative process in her home studio, and drop into the historic Bealiba Railway Station to take in the sculptural work of David McTaggart as you make your way along the platform to the Ladies Lounge, where you will be treated to the beauty and skill of Jenny Bacon’s gorgeous fabric works.