SCULPTOR Andre van Niekerk has always been fascinated by birds, so he is unsurprised he remains captivated by their beauty and variety decades after his career began.
The Padbury resident – with wife Cathy, a painter – built a successful business specialising in bird art in South Africa.
Their international reputation earned them a distinguished talent visa and they moved to our shores nearly two decade ago, establishing Feathers of Australia.
Together with daughter Lara, they run a slick operation; Andre does the carving, Cathy and Lara paint and finish.
Van Niekerk, who has made art inspired by 600 species of bird across a 40-year career, said the move down under was an easy one to make.
“Australia’s rich bird life inspired us hugely to design and produce something unique,” he said.
“Our work is mostly mixed media, combining timber with marble-cast and artist’s oils.
“We have always been keen conservationists and one of our requirements was that our raw materials should come from renewable sources.”
Visitors to the Perth Makers Market at the Heathcote Cultural Precinct on November 5 will be able to see the family’s work first hand.
Market manager Erin Madeley said anticipation had built after its September event was cancelled due to bad weather.
“Our point of difference is that everything you find at our markets is handmade in WA, apart from what is sold by not-for-profits,” she said.
“We’re really strict on that but it’s all high quality.”
The program seems to be working, with Ms Madeley revealing attendance had more than doubled since the markets launched at the start of 2016 and that she turns away more than half of all applicants looking to supply at each event due to limited space.
Van Niekerk said it was important to support businesses producing local, hand-made goods.
“I supply galleries all over Australia, but I won’t supply to galleries that sell anything imported,” he said.
“I’m quite fierce on this. Australia needs to be very proud of its hand-made market.
“Erin Madeley has worked extremely hard to make the Perth Makers Market what it is today.
“Her market has been voted one of the ten best in Australia and we feel privileged to be part of it.”
More than 180 stalls featuring art, candles, clothing, food, jewellery and more will be on offer at the upcoming Perth Makers Market.