Creatives in Queanbeyan: Q&A; with glass artist Annette Blair

Tuesday, 18 November 2023

Image: Beaut Handmade Glass, Emma Peterson Dishes detail. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Creatives in Queanbeyan: Q&A with glass artist Annette Blair

Annette Blair is an acclaimed glass artist bringing her designs to the MODERN Market in New Acton this Saturday.

Here she talks to Ashley Thomson about being a creative in Queanbeyan and her practice at the Canberra Glassworks.


What role does living and working in Queanbeyan play in your creative work?

I really love living in Queanbeyan. I was born here, and besides three years spent working at the Jam Factory in Adelaide, I have been lived in and around here and find it has everything I need. My family is all here, which is great. They support my practice and inspire much of my work. I also love coming home to Queanbeyan every day and being able to walk my dog along some of the lovely cleaned-up river trails. It’s a really beautiful area, and I find it’s a good time to think about my creative work.


Bearing in mind the longstanding jocular-yet-patronising antagonism of Canberrans towards Queanbeyan, what is your perception or impression of the town’s actual cultural and social climate?

Living here for so long, it doesn’t bother me too much when I hear this attitude towards Queanbeyan. I’d much rather live here than most parts of Canberra, and we don’t need people who doubt its potential to start moving out here. We have always been so close to Canberra that it is easy to take advantage of all of the benefits over the border while still enjoying life in a small town. Over the past five or so years it’s been great that there has been more going on here in Queanbeyan culturally and socially. The opening of The Q, the cultural honours gallery, the QBN arts trail, and more recently the river festival, just to name a few, have really demonstrated that there is certainly lots happening here and a strong sense of community.


How dependent does Queanbeyan, and by association your work, remain on the funding and institutions of Canberra? Whatever your answer, do you see it as a problem?

My current practice relies heavily on being in close proximity to Canberra. Most of my practice involves blowing glass, which is an expensive undertaking in itself, and while there is a very successful private studio in Queanbeyan (Curtis/Schwarzrock glass), it is more viable for me to rent the Canberra Glassworks to make my work and the work of other artists who hire me as a skilled craftsperson. While I use the Glassworks facilities for the majority of my practice, I have a small studio here in Queanbeyan which I use to draw, design and paint, as many of my artworks are objects painted with glass enamels. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to rely on these facilities; it gives me some freedom as I can just walk away at the end of the day. It’s hard to find a good work/life balance, particularly when you’re a self-employed artist, so I find heading to Kingston to make most of my work and then coming home to Queanbeyan helps me keep a little separation in life, and when I’m able to head into my own studio space here, it’s a low stress, creative space.


Given the undeniable rise in Queanbeyan’s profile as a hub for artists, what do you envision as the likely future of arts in the town? And do you intend to be a part of that future?

It’s great to see so much happening here in the arts, and I certainly have no plans to leave. I think it can only grow further and I look forward to what opportunities will arise for myself, other artists and the broader community.


To find Annette Blair’s work head to the Beaut Handmade Glass stall at DESIGN Canberra festival’s MODERN Market, this Saturday 22 November, 2014, at 2:00pm – 8:00pm. For more information visit

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