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Momentum builds in Busselton

Posted by Jacque Homer

I entered into a flurry of activity when I visited the ArtGeo Gallery over the weekend. People were creating their stories in what seemed to have been once a gallery, now transformed into what I can only describe as 'Santa’s Workshop'. Over 60 suitcases were lined up against the gallery wall, some completed while others were in various stages of completion.

Ludlow Forest Ephemeral Work, in progressLudlow Forest Ephemeral Work, in progress

It was great to see so many people who have contributed to the project so far. I met three participants who have been immersed in the project right from the beginning and they were obviously loving it.

From a Project Manager’s perspective, community arts projects have always been unpredictable in terms of its take-up and success. It boils down to several factors, many of which the project team has absolutely no control over.

These community arts workshops have proven to, after the initial lull, attract considerable interest from different sectors of the community. Hiromi with her network of dedicated volunteer artists, support from Jacquie Happ from the City of Busselton and the entire staff from ArtGeo Cultural Complex continue to drum up enthusiasm from the Busselton community.

After meeting with the artists to determine the final look of the exhibition, we were faced with the prospect of rethinking the exhibition and screening venues. Given unexpected developments beyond our control, the space where we were going to set up the projection and screen the digital work is now going to have turf laid on it. It was unfortunate, as it was a space that was identified to complement the exhibition that will be in the gallery itself. This has, however, led to another concept development of the event – making it more interactive by harmonising the ephemeral and community aspects of the project.

I then travelled out to visit the Ludlow Forest Epehemeral Work site, where Nicole is working with FIFO partners and wives on an environmental work. As I stood looking at the ephemeral art work in the Tuart forest in Wonnerup, I immediately noticed the stark difference between the workshops in the ArtGeo Gallery and the activity taking place in the forest. The only hive of activity in the latter are the mosquitos attempting to spread the forewarned ross river virus, now prevalent in the area.

Nic’s challenge has been to get enough of her target participant group of about 20 to commit to the building of the ephemeral works. There were only a couple of people working with her when I arrived. Environmentally based arts has its challenges: a combination of the accessibility of the site, where the location is not in the centre of town, as well as the commitments of the FIFO wives or partners who have ongoing childcare responsibilities, while partners are in the Pilbara or Kimberley on away-from-home shifts.

The idea of getting the target participants together in previous brainstorming sessions about what they would like to create was also meant to help them resolve one of their issues of isolation – brought about, in part, by having young children to care for whilst trying to take time off for themselves. This aspect of this particular project has been challenging. Over the weekend, we spread the word further about the Ludlow Forest project and contacted our existing networks. Nic reported having her largest ever number of participants arrive at the site on Monday morning!

It's great to feel the momentum for FIVE Busselton buildng, with only 10 days to go until we open our exhibition of works at ArtGeo!

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