Renowned Wagga artist Kath Powderly can’t quite believe she’s packing up to leave her hometown to begin a new adventure on the Gold Coast.
“It’s taken a long while to go through the grieving process,” she said, reflecting on 43 years in the house that would become the Best Street Studios.
“I bought this place when I was 21 and I’m not only leaving my home and my river, but I was born here, educated here, had babies and family and done everything.
“I’ve lived overseas and I travelled heaps but I have always come home, so it’s a really big thing.”
In the end, it was the birth of granddaughter Maisey six months ago that sealed the deal.
“My daughter moved up to the Gold Coast seven years ago to be with her partner and she had the baby in June,” Kath explained.
“It really came as a big surprise to me just how much I love her and want to be there while she grows up.”
The Best Street Studios have become an institution on the Wagga art scene, with thousands of students attending classes, and Kath’s colourful and quirky ceramics decorate homes and gardens across the country.
She’s planning to buy a place in the hinterland with a shed big enough for a workspace and her state-of-the-art kilns.
“I’ve just got this place exactly how I want it so I need something that I can quickly turn into a studio,” she said.
“I don’t want to do the classes like I’ve been doing and I think for a while I want to take the chance to just do my own artwork.
“I want to push the ceramics more, but I also want to get back to painting.”
The Best Street Studio Christmas Art Sale has been an annual tradition for 28 years and the final event that begins this weekend will be bigger than ever.
“I want to sell everything, all my ceramic artworks and garden pots and all of that stuff that I can’t take with me,” Kath said.
“Then early next year, I’m going to have a big clearance sale, where I’ll sell off moulds, pottery tools, seating, tables, you name it.
“I’m calling it my pre-deceased estate sale!” she added with a laugh.
Reflecting on a lifetime in Wagga, Kath said she had been blessed to be able to do what she loved in her hometown.
“I just want to thank the Wagga community because it has actually supported me to do what I have wanted to do and allowed me to develop the way I have,” she said.
“Literally, thousands and thousands of people have come through the studio and some have come for years and years and some for just one holiday class.
“And all of a sudden there’s these whole generations where I’ve had the children and grandchildren of the first ones I had 30 years ago.”
The last ever Christmas sale begins on Saturday (9 December) and offers a chance for those generations who have been part of the Best Street Studios journey to say goodbye.
“It’s been a good life. A really good life,” Kath smiled.
“At first I thought I couldn’t leave my country, but then I realised, you can always come back. You’re not dead yet!”