A biennial event that shines a national spotlight on Australia's regional arts will return to Victoria for the first time in 14 years.
Regional Arts Victoria will host Artlands in Bendigo and Castlemaine from October 10 to 14. It was last in Victoria in 2004 when Horsham hosted it as “Meeting Place”.
The five-day program works to connect creative projects with critical conversations on key themes.
The full Artlands Victoria program includes 13 panels, 23 sessions, more than 20 workshops, works in progress, conversations and special events with more than 20 cultural and local visual arts projects all interspersed around the eight keynote presentations.
Artlands Victoria creative director Ros Abercrombie described Artlands Victoria as cross-disciplinary, interconnected and inter-generational.
“We’ve created a forum to showcase new thinkers that will influence the way we engage with regional arts and to exchange the latest trends, case studies and projects,” she said.
“Our program highlights and acknowledges the significant contribution arts and culture can make in ensuring our regions remain strong and vibrant.”
Our program highlights and acknowledges the significant contribution arts and culture can make in ensuring our regions remain strong and vibrant.Ros Abercrombie, Artlands Victoria creative director
Themes at this year’s Artlands include On Country: A First Peoples approach to practice on country; Creative Tonic – art that creates social change for people, place and wellbeing; Industry Impact: refining purpose, identity, economic and social impact; New Thinking: Young creative perspectives; and Out and About where patrons take on a self-managed exploration of Central Victoria’s cultural offerings.
Keynote speakers for the five-day event include Trent Nelson and Rodney Carter from the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, New Zealand’s Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Amanda Smethurst and Jenny Rutter from the UK, Sue Jane Taylor from Scotland, Gannawarra Shire Council’s Tom O’Rielly and Roger Griffiths, Brett Leavy and Bryce Ives.
Representing regional music festivals
Cultural project The Band Stand will take over the Rosalind Park rotunda for five days with a music program representing the state’s music festivals.
Featuring lunch and evening gigs, 15 musicians and bands will perform over four days.
“We wanted Band Stand represented by regional music festival and the program is kicking. It’s great,” Ms Abercrombie said.
“It's will be a representation of as many regional music festivals as we can. So every festival has put up an artists that represents them.”
Queenscliff Music Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Wangaratta Jazz Festival and the Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival are just a few of the 11 festivals represented on the band stand.
Take an art tonic for your health and well-being
The Conservatory in Rosalind Park will host an installation during Artlands Victoria aimed at opening people’s minds to the to the transformative and restorative powers of creativity and culture.
The Cultural Pharmacy is set up as a 19th Century laboratory that distributes cultural “prescriptions and tonics” that encourage people to visit specific works of art in the area to help their health and well-being.
“If you look at something or experience something, your blood pressure can go down or you can feel inspired and empowered,” Ms Abercrombie said.
“(The Cultural Pharmacy) has got a few different elements to it because it is an installation, it’s immersive in sound and smell with performers interacting with people.
“You can enjoy it as an installation or engage with it and ‘take a tonic’ and have your own adventure. It’s on for the whole five days and is very much about anyone being able to drop in.”
City’s theatres to become exhibition spaces
The Capital and Ulumbarra theatres will host site-specific works by 12 artists.
One of the most powerful of these exhibitions will be Njanjera Direl Direlug, To Observe Sky Heaven by Robby Wirramanda at Ulumbarra.
Wirramanda’s carved sculptures and totems come from Lake Tyrrell and the creation stories that surround it.
“Robby and his ancestral totems are amazing,” Ms Abercrombie said. “As you come up to the Ulumbarra entrance, the totems meet you and will be positioned along the cells.
“There's a lot of synergy with that because Robby is from The Torch program which works with offenders in prisons.
“Those offenders learn to embrace artistic practice and become artists. Robby is from The Torch program. He was incarcerated and we have curated into a jail with that ancestral context.
“There is a lot of very important cultural power in there but the physical presence of those totems tries to both acknowledge and reset that.”
Linking with Wirramanda’s work is a session hosted by Kent Morris from The Torch which will focus on the transformative effects and healing power of art and cultural learning for Indigenous offenders.
Happy snap’s prime spot in View Street
Fourteen years ago, Bendigo photographer Donna Bailey looked across her property one morning and spotted her son walking along with the family dog Max.
She snapped a photo of Tom and Max – which she called Fog – and added it to her long-form project.
“I have been photographing my family as part of this work for 20 years,” Ms Bailey said. “Tom used to wear that balaclava all the time. I have no idea why.
“That day he was out with the dog who, by chance, had an injury and needed that headpiece. I was taking another picture and looked down to see this foggy morning, a boy with a peculiar choice of attire and a peculiar dog.
“So I asked him to stop there while I take his photo. It was all just instant. All the elements I needed in a photograph were there.”
Last week the photo appeared as part of Artlands Victoria’s marketing campaign.
“Tom’s quite chuffed. As he got older, he got more of an appreciation for my photos than when he was younger,” Ms Bailey said.
“As a teenager he was a reluctant subject but has now started doing a little bit of photography himself.”
Ms Bailey’s son Tom said he liked seeing the photo displayed so prominently.
“When she said it was on the side of a building, I didn’t think much of it until I saw it. It’s very cool,” he said.
“I remember being out walking the dog and playing in the bush like I always did. That’s what I love about the photo, you just never know where one thing will end up.”
Other photos from Ms Bailey’s long-form series will feature at the Artlands Victoria forum and showcase in October.
Artlands Victoria’s program is curated to connect creative projects with critical conversations on key themes. It is on in Bendigo from October 10 to 14.
Ms Bailey, whose work has been acquired by public institutes and galleries, is excited to be a part of it.
“It's brilliant. Bendigo just seems to be nailing in the arts scene,” she said. “We had White Night, the Bendigo Art Gallery is always doing amazing things and all the projects coming out of Bendigo are great.”
- Artlands Victoria will feature in Bendigo from October 10 to 14. Log on to www.artlands.com.au for the full program.