YARRAGON // BRINGING the local artistic community together to create an exhibition is standard fare for the Baw Baw Arts Alliance, but a new exhibition is seeking to engage the wider community in art creation.
Above: Keltie Mullin and Nicole Smith are learning how to work with clay at the Yarragon Arts Hub as part of the People & Place project. Photos by William PJ Kulich.
First published in the 28 August 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
The social Wednesday clay group, which meets at the Yarragon Station Gallery every week between 10:30 and 13:30, is putting together a joint exhibition called People & Place. One of the most inclusive projects put on by the alliance, People & Place is open for everyone to participate and, thanks to government funding, materials and firing are completely free.
“The idea was to do an exhibition inspired by people and their place in our community, and the way the arts alliance is its own mini community of people with different arts interests but a lot in common,” group spokesperson Joanne Watt told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“The idea was that people with or without art experience of other sorts could come together and give clay a try and work on the idea of making a human figure for a group piece where we use many, many small humans, and also the opportunity to exhibit some larger individual stand alone works for [the exhibition in] February next year.
“It is open for the general public, and a number of us are a bit more experienced with clay and help people if they need help on how to make things.
“What the grant has allowed us to do is provide clay and firing, as well as glazes for the finishing of pieces especially for this exhibition. Usually people bring their own clay, but for this project we provide it.”
The response to the project has been positive – it has attracted a few artists who had not tried working with clay before.
“We’ve had a handful of people come in who are usually painting or doing digital art or other art forms who are happy to come in and experiment with clay,” Joanne said.
“I think artists sometimes forget that if they are an artist in any medium, if they come in to use clay they already have design ideas, they already know about form and composition, all they need to work out what their idea is and find out what that material can do to express their idea.”
The relaxed and friendly clay group is a perfect stepping stone for those wanting to become involved in the local arts community.
“Sometimes there’s two or three of us, sometimes there’s ten of us,” Joanne said.
“Some people will work on something the first time they come, then they leave it a couple of weeks ready to come back when it’s a bit stronger.”
The Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen discussed the People & Place project with a number of people at this week’s gathering.
WBBC: How did you come to be involved?
Keltie: It was actually my partner Nicole. We went out to Laurie Collins’ [sculpture gallery] in Jindivick and picked up a brochure and decided to come out and give it a go.
WBBC: Had you done anything like this before?
Keltie: No, never worked in clay before. I primarily work in digital 3D, and thought ‘yeah, might come out and give it a crack.’
WBBC: You’re doing well! (You can see Keltie’s work on Page 1.)
Keltie: I’ve never touched clay before, not since high school anyway, so I just came in and gave it a go and there’s something coming together.
WBBC: What is it you’re making?
Keltie: I have no idea. I threw a block of clay on the table last week and that’s what came out of it. But a lot of my work is inspired by like H. R. Giger (a Swiss surrealist sculptor, painter and designer), so what I’m actually looking at doing is bringing some of the 3D stuff I do on the computer and actually making some sculpture.
WBBC: Have you worked with clay before?
Nicole: No, I’m a painter.
WBBC: What made you decide to come along?
Nicole: Keltie and I have been talking about working in other mediums for a while, and this came up. It wasn’t as scary as the normal meeting clay group, it was ‘come along if you’re new at it.’ So, we thought, we’ve been talking about it for long enough, we should just do it.
WBBC: You also seem to be doing well.
Nicole: It’s a different medium to painting, of course, but the same design principals are there.
Kim: It has been a good opportunity to start because it’s cheap and friendly.
WBBC: Had you been involved in local arts stuff before?
Kim: Well, I’ve done a little bit of felting and painting.
WBBC: But this is a bit more of a step into the community.
Kim: Yeah, that’s right. It’s social as well. Because I’m a carer for my mum, I really look forward to coming here and having the social side and just having a play because you don’t really need to think about things and there’s plenty of people to help you.
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