Artlands, Empire Theatre Toowomba. Day 2.

Arriving back into Heritage Bank Auditorium today was much easier than yesterday. I had established a path; a routine. 

I was running late from a breakfast invitation by Scotia Monkivitch from The Creative Recovery Network and Julie Barratt from Woorabinda Arts , so scurried quietly through the dim lit space to find my seat from yesterday still available. 

Efron Daliri was speaking, and I was mesmerised. The subject strong on how so much of what we do is based on being culturally informed. Every word had power; proactive political punch. How deep structural views that cannot be resolved with one cultural viewpoint alone. How we are in a world in great need and that artists have positions to do something about it. 

He then opened up the analogy and connection to The Secret Life of Trees. Another book that I wish I had the time to read. But I must keep occupying my time to provide and empower within a creative space in the regional arts to those who are silenced or oppressed…..Or just need to have a good ‘ol fashioned moan! 

There are 10,000 ethnicities in the world , where each of these have different ways of expressing social change. 

So how do we go about having an outcome where all the cultures come together? That’s right, it hasn’t happened yet. 

Efron goes on to say that all art is not absolute – it doesn’t have to fit into one category. And  there is nothing wrong with self-expression, but as creatives we need to amplifying art for social change. 

When Gabrielle Chan arrived on the screen to speak, I immediately nodded my head. 

“Why you should give a fuck about farming” resonated with me. 

I’m a farmers daughter. Born ‘n bred on a sheep and wheat farm in the Pyrenees Region of Victoria. 

And from a very early age, the farm was my creative space. 

My Masters degree was on Agricultural design as a metaphor for comfort zones; my thesis entitled ‘Where the Fences Guide you at the Gates Introduce You’. 

I took very little notes, because what she said (in a much more articulate fashion than I ever could), I understood. 

So I brought her book for my Dad, in the hope that one day he will understand why I was digging the paddocks soil up the create word ‘OUT’ for the postgraduate exhibition on that particular day . 

Artlands, The Empire Theatre. Day 1

On Wednesday I walked into a space that exudes creative enthusiasm, a collective of cultural wisdom – and I was very much drawn to the feeling that Shelley Pisani @theideasdistillery refers to as “the overwhelm”. 

This is where the gathering of great thoughts spark, bums parked.

We were all here to make the arts bigger – to meet those that are unreachable. And while I  was swarmed with a social ease, I was unprepared with how intimated I felt.

The arrival of Dave mangenner Gough’ Welcome to Country was captivating – another beautiful example of a socially engaged artist and cultural activist. 

When their is powerful provocation happening – make something! 

Culturally informed, effective immediately!

Greg Clarke’s Love Letter to Launceston made me laugh. Each state competing with being the best!

I was somehow reminded of Paul Kelly’s song “Every %^$^$% city looks the same” and far from the truth this was for me right now. I’m a lover of Launceston too. And now Toowomba was giving me eye-gasms too!

You’re all winners!

I soaked up why, when, where and how we make it. We make it for anything & everything. But hope do we establish the authentic connections from a grassroots capacity; from the ground up? 

Us artists are amongst us all to build strong and healthy relationships and communities. 

I scanned the auditorium, and tuned into the Slido app, which was bursting with questions, statements and enquires. 

I paid too much attention, and my brain although super inspired, was tired. Requiring hydration with a thirst for more knowledge on what was to come next. 

My connection to country was dawn in, with the statement of how it can be a crust, a layer or in parts. But just because it is not obvious to us, it doesn’t mean that someone’s connection isn’t there. It may have passed – it could be a memory….It’s there; its everywhere for them. By making art on this subject, we can bring that connection back to life- to what a place really and/or already is (under the surface if relevant). These places can be reimagined by community participation….Getting Regional and remote places moving – active together. To build a new environment with an experience that connects to said country. This coincides with the ongoing label of being site-specific. By creating intimate spaces for outdoor places.

I think it was Jessica Devereux that said “ask emerging artists –

“What colour do you want your grass to be?”

I was sold. All of them, I thought to myself.

Artlands, Toowoomba

This year the Regional Arts Development Fund opened up a Special Round of funding for arts and culture individuals to develop regional skills by attending the Regional Arts Australia national conference, Artlands in Launceston from 1-3 September 2021.

I was so excited to be a recipient of this grant, with the promise to present a blog during my time. I am a very big fan of Tasmania, and couldn’t wait to connect with others on this subject that keeps the skip in my step everyday.

But understandably, the decision was made in early August to move the conference to a digital program , to ensure everyone’s safety during this time.So my travel plans changed from flights to the freeing and open roads of Regional Queensland.

A solo road trip is a fairly new experience for me, as I am new to driving – having had my licence for the first time since November last year. So a six hour trip while quite daunting, was a chance to continue to celebrate doing new things and giving the ‘bird’ to fear.

As an avid daydreamer, concentrating along country roads continues to be a challenge for me though. I want to stop, stare. Walk, wonder while wandering. Not always possible, with trucks ‘up your bum’ and very few places to pull over in a safe sense. I may or may not have veered on the wrong side of the road, while reducing my speed to 40; soaking up the scenery – with The Go-Betweens blaring as I travelled across cattle and cane country.

My pit stops where Miriam Vale (where I re-connected with the Wrapt in Mugul public art trail. Again, tricky to pull over, but you get that fleeting sense of “oh, there it is!” And eyes back on the road again)….Biggenden, then Woomeri. Here, I took note of a public art piece where the donor of said work was acknowledged, but not the artist. Raising subjects on the value that the artist has in the community. It’s not the first time I have seen this recently, and I’m sure I will be opening up a dialogue about this in the next few days.

This is the longest I’ve ever been in a car on my own. I started talking to myself half way through the trip, and enunciating townships names as if I was learning a new language. And as I approached Western Wakka Wakka, Giabul and Jarrowair Country, I became very aware of the size of the city. I have never driven in a city of this caliber before. A bucket of rain started circulating the space. I had skipped two public loos to get to my destination quicker, and I was getting a bit fed up. Insert traffic jams, and hints of road rage began to emerge.

But by 4.30 I was settled, and an hour later greeted by the friendly and familiar face of Shelley Pisani from the Ideas Distillery.

This morning I awoke with the birds at 4.50, and am ready to immerse myself into the world of conferencing. To discover more about the creative and cultural scene of regional, rural and remote Australia.

Thank you, Regional Arts Development Fund for this opportunity.


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

Melissa Peacock respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land, waters and communities on which she walks, works and lives. She pays her respects to the Elders past, present and future of Indigenous nations in Australia and abroad. 

Artlands, Toowoomba

This year the Regional Arts Development Fund opened up a Special Round of funding for arts and culture individuals to develop regional skills by attending the Regional Arts Australia national conference, Artlands in Launceston from 1-3 September 2021.

I was so excited to be a recipient of this grant, with the promise to present a blog during my time. I am a very big fan of Tasmania, and couldn’t wait to connect with others on this subject that keeps the skip in my step everyday.

But understandably, the decision was made in early August to move the conference to a digital program , to ensure everyone’s safety during this time.So my travel plans changed from flights to the freeing and open roads of Regional Queensland.

A solo road trip is a fairly new experience for me, as I am new to driving – having had my licence for the first time since November last year. So a six hour trip while quite daunting, was a chance to continue to celebrate doing new things and giving the ‘bird’ to fear.

As an avid daydreamer, concentrating along country roads continues to be a challenge for me though. I want to stop, stare. Walk, wonder while wandering. Not always possible, with trucks ‘up your bum’ and very few places to pull over in a safe sense. I may or may not have veered on the wrong side of the road, while reducing my speed to 40; soaking up the scenery – with The Go-Betweens blaring as I travels across cattle and cane country.

My pit stops where Miriam Vale (where I re-connected with the Wrapt in Mugul public art trail. Again, tricky to pull over, but you get that fleeting sense of “oh, there it is!” And eyes back on the road again)….Biggenden, then Woomeri – where I took note of a public art piece where the donor of said work was acknowledged, but not the artist. Raising subjects on the value that the artist has in the community. It’s not the first time I have seen this recently, and I’m sure I will be opening up a dialogue about this in the next few days.

This is the longest Ive ever been in a car on my own. I started talking to myself half way through the trip, and enunciating Townships names as if I was learning a new language. And as I approached Western Wakka Wakka, Giabul and Jarrowair Country, I became very aware of the size of the city. I have never driven in a city of this caliber before. A bucket of rain started circulating the space. I had skipped two public loos to get to my destination quicker, and I was getting a bit fed up. Insert traffic jams, and hints of road rage began to emerge.

But by 4.30 I was settled, and an hour later greeted by the friendly and familiar face of Shelley Pisani from the Ideas Distillery.

This morning I awoke with the birds at 4.50, and am ready to immerse myself into the world of conferencing. To discover more about the creative and cultural scene of regional, rural and remote Australia.

Thank you, Regional Arts Development Fund for this opportunity.


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

Melissa Peacock respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land, waters and communities on which she walks, works and lives. She pays her respects to the Elders past, present and future of Indigenous nations in Australia and abroad. 

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


————————————————————

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