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.”

Rossella Park School Community Arts Project

We are now in week 5 of the project, and the students have completely immersed themselves into the handmade paper making process.

They have also begun painting the discs, with imagery being bold and dynamic.

A Country Arts Practice has been in discussion with other interested parties on the exhibition location for the installation and I look forward to sharing further updates with you soon.

GoFundMe Campaign – Thank you!

Well what a few months it has been! Since starting this campaign, I have facilitated six community art workshops and curated an exhibition for World Community Arts Day 2018. I have met with several (possible) community partnerships and I have been coordinating a project for students with disability for the past two months. All this has been made possible because of the generosity of those that have made donations to my campaign – to support the start up costs of my small Community Arts business – A Country Arts Practice. And to those humble folk that dropped me a line to say thanks for their ‘Art on a Card’ – HEY! You gave me money to go towards my business. So I say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.I am now clean out of cash, so I have submitted an application to the Regional Arts Development Fund, and have begun connecting with potential corporate sponsors. It’s early days still, but I continue to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the work that I do. Because I love it. The campaign will now close, but if you would like to support A Country Arts Practice, please get in touch!

World Community Arts Day Project, 2019

Starting in early January, this project invited participants to collaborate on a large scale drawing with a variety of mediums on white Fabriano paper in workshops held at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum.

A large box frame made by Gladstone Men’s Shed became the second piece where people were invited to collaborate on, following a backdrop of my artwork in a dark palette as a starting point.

Crow Street Creative and Photopia Studio sponsored a workshop on the evening of Friday the 8th of February where the public were invited to continue collaborating on both pieces.

The works will be exhibited from Saturday the 16th-23rd of February at Photopia Studios, with an exhibition opening on Sunday the 17th of February from 2-4pm to celebrate World Community Arts Day. http://www.worldcommunityartsday.com

http://www.photopia-studio.com

2017- 2019

There’s been quite a lot happening since my last update in October 2016.

Edgar John Francis-Peacock was born on the 14th of January, 2017.

I returned to my role as Senior Instructor in January 2018, but remained in this role for only a few months as I joined the NDIS via the Brotherhood of St Laurence as a Local Area Coordinator in April. This was my first ever full time desk job, and it didn’t take long for me to learn that I need to be with and around people; working in the community.

In July 2018 I was nude on national television, as I was selected to be interviewed with a few others about the Spencer Tunnick installation of which I was to take part in.

It was at this time that Edgar became quite sick with Mastoiditis and spent a week in hospital. And also the time that Mark was offered a job……..In Regional Queensland.

So in September 2018, the three of us and our Miniature Groodle Louie moved to Gladstone, 1 hour South of Rockhampton.

I have been pretty quiet with making art in the past couple of years, and also in Community Arts.

There have been a few private commissions here and there, and with the move much of work was sold at a heavily discounted price, but placed on the walls of some very beautiful homes – one of which won a design prize.

One of my sculptures made a few years ago now got a mention https://thedesignfiles.net/2018/12/homes-luke-mortimer-country-victoria

Art was made for a wedding present for our two dearest friends (who just happen to also have the names Mark and Melissa!)

I handed over Drawsome to some other wonderful creative types, and it was great to see it continuing when I returned briefly after maternity leave.

I donated some work to be auctioned to Villa Maria Catholic Homes for their fundraiser in May 2017.

My first week in the NDIS office was quiet, so I was assigned to develop a mural for the workplace.

As Edgar has gotten a little older, our activities have begun to revolve around being creative. He is an avid drawer and painter, and absolutely loves spending time at his easel.

This last Christmas we collaborated on building a Christmas tree made from our moving boxes and lots of my old artwork.

But the biggest and boldest step that I have taken up recently is setting up my business ‘A Country Arts Practice’.

Combining my 20 + year career in Disability and 20+ years as a Visual and Community Artist, the business focuses on creating opportunities in the Community and Visual Arts for everybody in Gladstone Region, Queensland.

I have been fortunate enough to be accepted in the NEIS program where I will receive training and mentoring to set up the business.

I have already had a huge amount of support and have started my first project, which will be to celebrate World Community Arts day for 2019.http://www.worldcommunityartsday.com

I will be developing a page on this website specifically for the business, but updates can also be found @acountryartspractice.

I have also set up a GoFundMe campaign to get the business off the ground.

It will run for another month or so, and can be found at: http://gofundme.com/039a-Country-arts-practice039

2019 looks set to be a pretty exciting year.

More updates soon. Thanks for tuning in.

Melissa

Branching out within the business

Following some market research, A Country Arts Practice is branching out!
Community is about inclusion – for people from all walks of life; all ages and abilities.
In a couple of weeks I will be attending a grant writing workshop, including a 1:1 session with Creative Regions’ Creative Producer, Di Wills as I begin to submit proposals for some very exciting projects for all of the locals and visitors of the Gladstone region in Queensland.