Giving and receiving

Today was the first time in a month since I have been to the Botanic Walk, Canoe Point ( which is the site for my project ‘From the Ground Up’.) I’ve had a ‘bung’ knee, that’s lead to working mainly in the studio. But this time has allowed concepts and ideas to develop at home, so that a series of ephemeral installations on site Can be produced.

‘The land can’t speak for itself’ is what Marrawah Johnson said (In something that I read recently). And this statement really resonates with me. In my two months interacting with this space, it shares with me a gift. But it is unspoken. I feel nourished in so many ways being in this landscape, and wanted to capture this.

Offering bowls and gift boxes came to mind to present to the land. To introduce each to the site. To add, compliment, interact. To say thanks.To become an addition to the sense of space and what it shares with me. To also capture the relationship between the people that spend time in and around the area.

I walked, watched and observed. Collecting visual data and trialling spots and spaces that spoke to the shapes and forms that I was offering. Some said yes, many said no, The organic Structures stationary In spots and lay quietly – offering play but no sense of perfection. Just ideas. It’s how I saw things on my last visit when I cam across a deflated plastic ball. Dusted in sand and it’s colours sunburnt. It’s man-made-ness established some kind of aesthetic that really captured my imagination. But I hesitated in applauding it’s beauty because it was made from plastic. So I picked it up and disposed of it – then began to think about what I could share with the landscape. It oblivious to what my intentions were, but a promise that it would be thoughtful.

This landscape does not my know story. And I am not entirely informed with it’s either. But it has offered me a great send of peace, reflection and admiration. That, I think deserves a gift.

Handmade botanical bowls on sand. Canoe Point, Tannum Sands. July 2020

Looking forward, looking back…

Twenty years ago, Slim Dusty shared these lyrics with us. It was a part of his 100th album release…..’Making songs from what I know”…..He sings.

Making and knowing – a great combination.

As I’m preparing my tax return, it naturally leads me to being reflective on the last time it was submitted. Forget New Years Eve – it’s the start of the financial year that makes me reflect on what I should and shouldn’t be doing.

Since July 2019 I have delivered three public art installations, a long list of community art workshops, received 5 grants and 3 sponsorships. I’ve been on the news and producing a body of work that I’m feeling really good about.

The handmade paper pinwheels second site installation which was erected in December and located at Canoe Point, Tannum Sands is still standing and serving it’s purpose- to release kangaroo grass on site to germinate. It was very much an experiment as nothing had been done like this before in that specific environment and with a decent wet season and another dry Winter, the handmade paper sculptures are still reasonably intact.

In February, the installation at ‘Art-Port’ which is a Public Art Space partnership between myself and Gladstone Airport Corporation saw it’s third community art presentation. This time ‘round it was particularly fitting as it was to celebrate World Community Arts Day on the 17th February. Over the course of 8 months, I delivered many community art workshops in the Gladstone Region where people of all ages and abilities learnt about the basics of making handmade/recycled paper which was then formed into cubes and decorated by the many individuals that took part. 300 cubes came together for the event, with them then becoming free art for people to take with them on their travels. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions lead to the installation and the community arts space to be dismantled and put on hold until further notice.

In between projects, I was awarded a RADF out of round grant for professional development and spent the week in Gympie with Environmental Educator and Artist, Zela Bissett to learn about making botanical paper. This invaluable skill has continued on into recent projects with the Virtual EcoFest and ‘From the Ground Up’ (see recent posts for further information). In between, I have been working tirelessly to seek alternatives In opportunities as Visual and Community Artist while communities and the people within them adjust to the significant changes.

On the horizon is some very exciting conversations with a variety of groups and organisations in the region. I am about to embark on some more professional development, and continue to link in with the many excellent individuals that reside in Central Queensland.

In a couple of months it will have been two years since we have moved here, but it feels like many more. I feel so at home here and the community is just wonderful.

I have a habit of getting nostalgic and also stuck on more challenging times of the past. This time two years ago our son Edgar was very sick and in hospital. Both Mark and I were unhappy in our jobs. We took a huge risk to move here, having never even visited Queensland before. We don’t have any family here – we didn’t know anyone! But it goes to show that sometimes (and I’m aware it’s absolutely sometimes) that risks are worth taking.

Study of work in progress. Large scale drawing for ‘From the Ground Up’. Pastel on Arches paper. June 2020.

Interview with Ruby

Interview: 

Hi Ruby. How are you? What have you been up to? 

I am currently painting Rocks

Question 1. 

Tell me about your life so far- what have you been doing over the years? 

Answer 1: I am highly involved in Special Olympics Australia and am now a Director on the national board. I started out competing as a swimmer around the age of 10 and 

Competed for Australia in the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, have been to Australians Nationals twice and have won multiple medals over the years – Open Water being one of my favourite events. I have also volunteered at the junior national games and look forward to doing so again in the near future.

I was a Participant in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queens Baton relay.

Love animals of all sorts, especially horses and ponies and have competed in Riding for Disabled Association in many local rural shows.

I am very creative and enjoy being involved in many local community art projects and competitions.

When did you move to Gladstone and why? 

Answer 2: I have lived in Gladstone for many years since I was about 4yrs of age and we moved here from the NT due to my Dad getting a job here and my little sister was born here.

What were you doing before the COVID 19 restrictions and how has it changed your life? 

Answer 3: Before Covid19 I was quite busy working part time at IE Cafe in Tannum and attending Collective Enterprise programs at The GCLA Hub where I could socialise, express my talents through art and learn new skills. I was also travelling alot for Special Olympics board meetings as well as to attend retreats and workshops with Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Queensland.

What have you been doing during the restrictions? 

Answer 4: During restrictions I have been keeping myself busy with art and craft at home as well as taking care of my pets and going for walks. I have also been keeping in touch with my friends in Brisbane through social media.

Do you think your life will have changed next year because of COVID 19? Obviously due to restrictions I have had to stop all of these activities other than meetings online and have struggled a bit with not being able to get out and have these social interactions.

Following this interview, the work was partially completed so as to continue the collaboration with Ruby……”Half way through the piece, I came to a stand still. Something didn’t feel right, it wasn’t working. Then I realised that I still need to keep collaborating with this very talented artist. So this Friday, I’m ‘handballing’ this one to Ruby to finish.

‘Ruby’s rock paintings in the water by the lap rings’, Pastel and pencil on Arches paper. June 2020.

For developments and outcomes of the artwork that was created in response to this interview, follow me @acountryartspractice #cqrasn #toughandtenderbeauty

From the Ground Up

I’m excited and delighted to share that my RADF project proposal has been approved! 

From the Ground Up ‘- is a 5 month Artist in Residency and Community Arts  pilot project partnership between myself , Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), Gladstone and NFP House.

Weekly, Ill be working on specific sites with CVA, where I will be creating works in ‘collaboration’ with the natural environment. The plan was to work alongside volunteers, but for now its on a solo basis. Hopefully we can all get together soon. 

The mixed media works will be produced on botanical handmade paper which will be made from the organic material sourced from each CVA maintenance site. The collection of this  organic material will also comply with the councils ‘Code of practice in relation to all plant material used.

My studio at home will be the residency for the time being, but hopefully soon will be able to got back to the original plan.

When restrictions have been lifted, a pop-up open studio space at the Not-for-profit headquarters (NFP House) will be erected once a week at the back of this building on 11/120 Goondoon Street, Gladstone where the public have the opportunity to view works and converse with the artist in residence.

Monthly free community art workshops will also be offered Initially via zoom, then located at NFPHG and CQ Universities STEM Lab,  where participants can learn the process of making  botanical paper and also learn how to eco-dye.

From a creative recovery perspective, the projects intention is to have conversations and gain insight into the impact that eco-anxiety, depression and financial hardship is having on the people of the Gladstone region as they are affected by drought and bushfire and now Covid-19. 

The workshops invites people of all ages, abilities and cultures to attend, with the outcomes being exhibited at the Gladstone Airport’s ‘Art-Port’ when it is up and ruining again. 

At the conclusion of the project a wide selection of works from the residency will be donated to CVA which will bring a unique insight to creative connections with the land.

The overall project is a first for the entire Conservation Volunteers Australia organisation; offering a new experience with how individuals  connect with the environment while conserving and protecting habitats and ecosystems.

For all updates on the project, follow me @acountryartspractice


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I acknowledge the Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang. Bailai and Bunda people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on that I work. 

I would like to pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

‘From the Ground Up’ is a Artist in Residence/Community Arts Project and is funded by RADF.

Regional Arts Development Fund is a  Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland

Gladstone Area Water Board also proudly sponsors this project 

From the Ground Up

I excited and delighted to share that my RADF project proposal has been approved! 

From the Ground Up ‘- is a 5 month Artist in Residency and Community Arts  pilot project partnership between myself , Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), Gladstone and NFP House.

Weekly, Ill be working on specific sites with CVA, where I will be creating works in ‘collaboration’ with the natural environment. The plan was to work alongside volunteers, but for now its on a solo basis. Hopefully we can all get together soon. 

The mixed media works will be produced on botanical handmade paper which will be made from the organic material sourced from each CVA maintenance site. The collection of this  organic material will also comply with the councils ‘Code of practice in relation to all plant material used.

My studio at home will be the residency for the time being, but hopefully soon will be able to got back to the original plan.

When restrictions have been lifted, a pop-up open studio space at the Not-for-profit headquarters (NFP House) will be erected once a week at the back of this building on 11/120 Goondoon Street, Gladstone where the public have the opportunity to view works and converse with the artist in residence.

Monthly free community art workshops will also be offered Initially via zoom, then located at NFPHG and CQ Universities STEM Lab,  where participants can learn the process of making  botanical paper and also learn how to eco-dye.

From a creative recovery perspective, the projects intention is to have conversations and gain insight into the impact that eco-anxiety, depression and financial hardship is having on the people of the Gladstone region as they are affected by drought and bushfire and now Covid-19. 

The workshops invites people of all ages, abilities and cultures to attend, with the outcomes being exhibited at the Gladstone Airport’s ‘Art-Port’ when it is up and ruining again. 

At the conclusion of the project a wide selection of works from the residency will be donated to CVA which will bring a unique insight to creative connections with the land.

The overall project is a first for the entire Conservation Volunteers Australia organisation; offering a new experience with how individuals  connect with the environment while conserving and protecting habitats and ecosystems.


————————————————————

I acknowledge the Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang. Bailai and Bunda people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on that I work. 

I would like to pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

‘From the Ground Up’ is a Artist in Residence/Community Arts Project and is funded by RADF.

Regional Arts Development Fund is a  Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland

Gladstone Area Water Board also proudly sponsors this project 

Central Queensland Regional Art Services Network Residency

“Through these tough times, the arts can play important roles for individuals and communities by providing entertainment, distraction, solace and contributions to mental wellbeing and community resilience.

CQUniversity and the Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network will be exploring some of the ways the arts can be used to respond, reimagine and rebuild through the Tough and Tender Beauty Artist ‘at home’ residency program.

Tough and Tender is the signature project for the Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network for 2020-21 and will profile the importance of the arts for creative response, resilience, recovery, memorialising and celebration. A range of activities will take part place over the next 15 months with a culmination weekend in June 2021.

As phase one of that project, the CQ RASN has invited artists/creative practitioners from diverse artforms to engage in a one-month residency ‘at home’, with the first residency starting from 4 May.

An initial selection of six artists from diverse regions and artforms will engage in their own practice and way of working, reflecting upon the current context and responding to the theme. These artists will share aspects of their process or work through platforms such as blogs, podcasts/artist talk and social media posts throughout the month.” (https://www.cqu.edu.au/cquninews/stories/engagement-category/2020-engagement/important-role-for-the-arts-in-regions-during-tough-times)

My concept was to interview 5 different people in the Gladstone region. One Senior, one adult, one child, one person who recognises as having a disability and one person who identifies as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Once interviewed via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom I created a piece of artwork in response to what each individual had shared with me in relation to the subject matter of the project. The finished piece wins then gifted to each person that had taken part for them to keep.

Below are segments of my blog for the duration of the residency:

‘No Cats on the Tracks’ Pastel and pencil on Arches paper. 57 x 75 cm June 2020.
Last week I chatted with 7 year old Eli.
Eli shared with me many aspects of his life – both the literal and the abstract.
Which became the basis of my approach to this work.
Eli and his family have 3 cats at their house and they are quite inquisitive when it comes to Eli playing with his trains and railway tracks. Eli was very expressive and descriptive when it came to this subject. I was completely sold on his storytelling.
‘No Cats on the Tracks’ tells a visual story of boundaries and control. Where we want to go; what might be holding us back. Where borders surround us from what we are not yet able to do – blocking entry to what we imagine we can. To society seeing us in a certain way, when we only want to be accepted for who we are.

HOW DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY HAS MADE ME ‘BETTER’:

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‘RESPONSE TO ZOOM MEETING 26/5/2020’ INK ON HANDMADE PAPER BOXES. MELISSA PEACOCK MAY 2020

I applied for this opportunity to take part in the Tough and Tender Beauty Artist in Residence ‘at home’ late one night, in a panic. 

While I normally like stick to what is familiar (to ease anxieties) things weren’t normal anymore. I needed to branch out, to connect with others out there and other opportunities further from my comfort zones and region.

My normal lightbulb that balances above my head was sitting at an all time low that night of 15 watts, but then hit at a high of 350 when I saw this advertised via CQRASN. Yep, I had an idea.

An idea to do things differently. Because that was what life was like right now – different. 

I wanted to talk to different people, and make work in a different way to how I normally would.

I needed to challenge the differences that I was facing, and raise the bar – and fight through the changes that COVID-19 was causing. 

Interviewing five VERY different people from the Gladstone region allowed me an opportunity to see things in a myriad of different lights. How they arrived at this place in the world – and how they arrived at this point in time now. What makes them tough, tender and beautiful. And then from my perspective – how is this visually translated? 

I learnt a lot about each of these individuals – and along the journey 5 other artists and our mentors…..And myself in the process.

Listening is learning.

Don’t try too hard.

But if you do, laugh about it.

Be vulnerable.

And you will hear someone’s heart.

This is what I experienced.

This has been a massive experiment for me. But it has made me recognise the importance of “resilience, recovery, memorialising and celebration” (Tough and tender beauty website homepage) through seeing the light in others….And also when it has been dark.

I am so grateful to CQRASN, the mentors, the artists that they have put together in the first round of this project – the audience; viewers….And the people that have taken the time out in their lives to share their story with me. 

Life is different right now. But for me, it’s become better because of this project.

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‘Petra’ Pastel and pencil on Arches paper. 57 x 75cm May 2020. Melissa Peacock

I hugged someone for the first time in months that wasn’t my husband or our son. 
And it was Petra. I broke the rules, but then so does Petra. And I really needed a hug.
During the  second stage of my interview with Petra, she talked about her life after returning to Australia, buying a home with her husband. Study, work and their two children coming into the world.
Petra is dedicated to making a difference, both within her personal life and out in the community.
She is philosophical and ethical.  


Petra was homesick for ten years, but immersed herself in fishing, the beach – exploring the outdoors and acquainting herself with the locals. 
Culturally, Petra noted, embraced and adapted to certain circumstances but still observes how we are all so different.
She fills my cup with new ways to look at things – a perspective that is both refreshing and honest. 
Petra is a great friend. 

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In 2015 I had some work in a small gallery in Melbourne. A few months after having my work in the space, the owner of the gallery called me and said “Your work looks too much like an indigenous artists work. And because you’re not an aboriginal, I can’t have your work in here anymore.” My mark making then was actually very much connected to my anxiety. The repetition much like a version of stimming for me. Her assumptions on my style stung a bit, but I’m forever fascinated by this remark.

It also got me thinking about what an artist maybe influenced by….How that is perceived and translated by the art world and it’s audience?

So when it came time to interview Gooreng Gooreng Elder, Uncle Richard, thoughts of this disgruntled woman’s voice floated back into my mind. 

I felt very conscious of how my approach to the work would be translated. And I kind of went in the opposite direction of how I usually work. 

This drawing is unusually literal for me. 

But Uncle Richard was clear, direct and specific in his story telling. 

“I believe in the saying ‘it takes a village….’ but we have been conditioned to think independently now….To think “I’m going to do it my way”.

And rarely do we come together. We seem to have lost the ability to care for one another. We don’t have the structures in place for our community.”

Uncle Richard has had leadership roles in Co-op Housing and Mental Health. 

He is passionate about education “when it is done right” and his faith (When I sent him an image of the early stages of work he asked if I could please include the Bible) . 

He looks out for those ‘that have fallen between the cracks’ and is “hopeful that we use this time wisely – as individuals and as a nation”.

“COVID-19 has excited me because it has changed some of the thinking in our community….We can’t survive independently.”

But Uncle Richard has concerns that when restrictions are lifted, that people will return to their previous  lifestyles. 

“Maybe the government will introduce some new things…..We want change in our lives, but only individuals can do that – only they can do it for themselves to make the right decisions.”

The drawing brings Uncle Richards highlighted subjects into the work – education and literature (we discussed Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu), his various roles for individuals and groups within his culture and community. His faith and his ‘religion’ – sport!

Some feature in a faded memory, some bold and very present to the viewer. 

Three colours captured amongst what is black and what is white.

It was a refreshing shift to draw differently, yet each time I listen to the interview, I draw more and more from what Uncle Richard is saying. His wisdom and my lack of insight into his culture colliding in between, with me wanting to know more.

Image below:
‘Anne’ Mixed media on Arches paper. May 2020

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Handmade Paper Pinwheel Project

Starting in July and running for 6 months this community arts project is with CPL (Choice, Passion, Life) a local organsiation for people with disability, and Conservation Volunteers Australia where the participants in each workshop will learn how to make handmade paper, which will be formed into pin wheels and have native seeds (Kangaroo Grass, Brady Grass and Lovegrass) embedded into the handmade paper.

The project intends to spark conversations about the environment, creativity, sustainability and conservation of energy.

Gladstone Regional Council’s Regional Arts Development Fund Committee has supported these works to be public art installations which will be located at Canoe Point, Tannum Sands and Joe Joseph Park, Gladstone. These conservation project sites are managed by Conservation Volunteers Australia and Gladstone Regional Council.

Plans to have a large community launch for the installation at Canoe Point are in preparation, with dates proposed to be in December this year.

Some of the completed handmade paper pinwheels have been installed for National Tree Day on Sunday the 28th of July at Lake Callemondah, Gladstone.

This project has been funded by Fitzroy Basin Association and the Australian Governments Landcare Program.

For more information on the project, and updates on my other community arts projects, please visit my Facebook page @acountryartspractice

Rosella Park School Community Arts Project

June saw the launch of the Rosella Park School Community Arts Project Installation.

Inspired by Joris Kuipers ‘Escaping Expressionism’ the large scale handmade paper disc installation will be exhibited at the Gladstone Airport until the beginning of September 2019.

Many thanks to Santos GLNG and Gladstone Airport Corporation for supporting the project.

For more information please visit my Facebook page @acountryartspractice

World Community Arts Day 2020 Project

A COLLABORATIVE COMMUNITY ARTS PROJECT FOR THE GLADSTONE REGION

I have recently become a recipient of Round 1 2018-2019 of the Regional Arts Development Fund. In collaboration with five community partnerships – Rosella Park School, Gladstone Community Linking Agency, Gladstone Regional Libraries, Crow Street Creative and C.P.L, where I will coordinate and facilitate a community arts project for Gladstone over 9 months that will result in a large-scale installation, to be exhibited for World Community Arts Day in February 2020.

Participants in each workshop will make handmade paper cubes and be invited to draw on them with ink. 

These cubes come together to form a large collaborative community art installation, inviting passers by to take the individual, environmentally friendly sculptures with them on their journey.

The workshops are designed for people of all ages and abilities and will enhance and celebrate community engagement, social relationships and communication between the diverse residents of the region. 

Each part making up the sculpture, born of individuals self expression will then be available for appreciation by its audience. 

World Community Day Arts 2020, a collaborative community arts project for the Gladstone region presents an opportunity to experience a sensory based, sustainable arts project which can deliver an environmentally friendly message to a wide audience.

The project will be launched at EcoFest, Central Queensland’s largest, free environmental festival on Sunday the 2nd of June, 2019. 

Supporting the launch will be students from Rosella Park School who will perform live improvised theatre in response to the drawings created on the handmade paper cubes. 

”Local visual and performance artists working with the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, have collaborated to present eight pop up performances throughout EcoFest, 2019 during “Take pART”. (Di Paddick, Cultural Projects Specialist at GRAGM)

Supported by the Gladstone Regional Council Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), “Take pART” artists will use their talent and ingenuity to deliver the 2019 message: “Slim Your Bin With a Low Waste Diet.”

RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. The Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum is a community cultural initiative of the Gladstone Regional Council.”