A gift shop and gallery stocking works by 16 local artists and makers has opened at West Cessnock.
The Little Wild Shop is the brainchild of Wild Learning founder Emmie Hallett, and is located at the front of the community hall at 111 Wollombi Road.
It opened last Friday and welcomed many visitors, artists, friends and neighbours over the weekend, which Ms Hallett said was a "beautiful experience".
"I keep saying that I really really believe in the importance of buildings and that physical spaces are still so important in a world that has become even more digital," she said.
"Because when you visit us there is real human connection and conversation, and all of your senses are activated - from the scent of handmade soap, the visual treat of artwork, the sounds of people chattering and piano music and sewing machines in the background.
"We have deliberately created a space that allows each person to have plenty of space around them during a class or visit, so social distancing is built into the flow.
"When you come inside you can just relax and feel at ease, and we hope that is good for mental health too."
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Ms Hallett founded Wild Learning in 2016, a year after she started the Undeniably Noisy Project community choir in Cessnock.
It moved into the former West Cessnock Community Hall in 2019, and now offers a range of art, craft, music, fitness and movement - all part of Ms Hallett's vision to provide ways for local people to create, connect, learn new things and feel good.
Classes are held every weekday and workshops take place every second weekend, with a new timetable available later this week (stay tuned to wildlearning.com.au).
The Little Wild Shop will be open Thursday 1pm-4pm, and Friday and Saturday from 10.30am-2pm.
"And any time I'm there, I'll stick the open sign out for people to come and say hello!" Ms Hallett said.