The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

Q&A with regional artists

What perspective do you gain from living regionally that you wouldn't necessarily experience from living in a major city? How has living in your region inspired your practice?

Damien Kamholtz, NT: I am currently based in Kakadu National Park, living and working with Bininj ( indigenous) communities across the park. I’m working alongside senior artists supporting the delivery of intergenerational learning opportunities and the development of innovative and inclusive arts enterprise, This has allowed me the opportunity to develop close relationships with senior Arnhem land artists and an immersion in culture and Bininj family life that I would not have had the opportunity to experience living in a major city. This is a different world. The artists share with me language and knowledge and I am learning cultural art techniques of harvesting, collecting and preparing art materials from the land, as well as mark making and story. These are ancient practices and I am an eager student. All aspects of this place and the people that share it with me are influencing my practice and how I approach it.


How does the local landscape and materials available in your region influence your practice?

Aleshia Lonsdale, NSW: As a regional Aboriginal artist my practice is heavily influenced by my local landscape and connection to Country. This sense of place is an integral theme in many of my works and they often include materials collected from country - such as ochre, bark or earth.


Is collaboration with local audiences and other sectors (eg. agricultural, environmental) part of your practice and why?

Tracy Luff, NSW: Yes, most definitely! By collaborating with your local community, you help to bring them together. I involve myself with community cultural festivals as an exhibiting artist, as a contributor to festival activities by running art based workshops for adults and children, by participating in aspects of organising and promoting such cultural activities; and by standing up for the values of enriching community cultural values. When I engage with community, I benefit too, in terms of my exposure as an artist and the rich rewards gained through contributing to community growth in their cultural awareness and identity.


What are the challenges of living in a regional area? Does being based in a regional location limit your access to opportunities or information about the arts sector?

Judy Barrass, QLD: Short talks, inspirational exhibitions, events and workshops in the cities can involve a lot of added effort, hours of driving, parking and petrol costs, and sometimes an overnight stay. For those of us working in experimental and new media genres there’s often no one else around that shares our interests or skills, so our practice can feel isolated and disengaged from the place where we live. But, it’s not all bad, regional Australia is a great place to live and regional arts communities have a wealth of talented people who are highly supportive of each other. A good example of regional communities working together is the fledgling website ‘Regional Print’ that has grown out of Print Council of Australia’s 50th birthday celebrations in Queensland. The idea is to develop a resource and sharing site for Qld’s regional printmaking groups (see here). As blogmaster for the site I’ve been amazed at how many small, regional groups there are and look forward to seeing how the site develops over time as a conduit for communication between previously isolated printmakers.

Dian Darmansjah, QLD: I live in one regional area and work in other regional areas providing professional development workshops to artists in remote Indigenous communities, so one of the biggest challenges I face is distance. Travel is expensive and time consuming. As I am also physically removed from my clients and colleagues, it can be hard to build networks and maintain relationships. Technology has helped with communication, but it can still be unreliable in remote areas and nothing beats face to face contact.

I have tried to connect with the local arts community where I live, but I find they don't really understand the industry I work in. I was involved in the Regional Marks printmaking exhibition at the University of the Sunshine Coast gallery this year and that was a good way to connect with local print makers.


Image: pixabay

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