South West Fieldtrip

South West Fieldtrip

Doone McAlary

Tegan Morey, Regional Arts Development Officer and I earlier this month spent three days in the picturesque South West driving through ancient karri, marri and jarrah forests visiting: Collie, Bridgetown, Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Nannup, and Donnybrook. The intent of our fieldtrip was to hold community funding information sessions; meet with arts and cultural organisations and Shires; learn of the fabulous projects and events happening throughout the region; and catch-up with a number of Country Arts WA’s Core Arts Funded organisations.

Over the three days we drove a 781 kilometre loop, with our first stop Collie on Monday 30 January 2017. We visited the well kitted-out Collie Art Gallery which was completed in 2015 and is the first A-class museum quality gallery to be built in the regions for over 23 years, and now joins the previous three: Bunbury Regional Art Galleries 1979, Geraldton Regional Art Gallery 1984, and Goldfields Arts Centre 1993. At the Gallery we met with: Allison Fergie Director of Corporate Affairs Shire of Collie, the Collie Art Gallery Group, and Payam Parishzadeh Gallery Coordinator.

Tegan Morey, Doone McAlary, Allison Fergie, and Don and Dianne Clark outside Collie Art Gallery within Reflective Regeneration. Artists Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith. Image courtesy Tegan Morey.

From Collie it was over to Bridgetown where we held our first community funding forum. The session was hosted by the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes and held in the Library which sits amongst the bush at the Somme Creek Reserve. I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to quietly sit and read.

The following day we met with a number of staff from the Shire of Manjimup: Gail Ipsen Cutts Director Community Services, Evy Apeldoorn Manager Community and Recreation, Fran Bullock Manager Library and Cultural Services, and Jessica Winters Park Redevelopment. The Town Centre Revitalisation project is onto stage two and we heard about the proposed Sound Shell in the Manjimup Timber and Heritage Park, the Manjimup Art Gallery which opened mid-2016, and other projects on their drawing board.

Onto Pemberton where Sarah-Jayne Griffiths, Manager of the Community Resource Centre, who pretty much knows everyone and everything happening in the town, will disperse our contact details and funding programs information. The Centre sits behind a magnificent border of white rose bushes, which surely brings joy to those entering.

Our second funding session was at Southern Forest Art’s The Painted Tree Gallery with a good mix of artists and organisations. But first Tegan and I were champing to walk the trails of Understory, not only because it’s been awhile since we’ve been there but we wanted to see the latest work installed following Kim Perrier’s community project Rising from the Ashes.  A further 40 pieces are now included in the sculpture walk and our well-informed guide Fiona Sinclair, the force behind Understory, helped us spot some of the more elusive-placed. Southern Forest Arts receives core funding from Country Arts WA.

Standing sentinel in Understory Art & Nature Trail Northcliffe. Artist Kim Perrier. Image courtesy Tegan Morey.

The next morning in a blaze of sun and birdsong we arrived in Nannup for our third forum. In attendance were representatives from: Nannup Music Club, Nannup Arts Council, and Nannup Flower & Garden Festival. The Music Club was very busy organising the Nannup Music Festival held 4, 5 & 6 March 2017, under the calm and wise orchestration of the Festival Director Phaedra Watts. Nannup Music Club receives core funding from Country Arts WA.

Doone McAlary, with Myrto Angelouli, Joe Fox and Phaedra Watts Nannup Music Club. Image courtesy Tegan Morey

The fourth and last forum of the South West fieldtrip was in Donnybrook and hosted by the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup. What a crowd Ded Vanallen Community Development Officer was able to wrangle to the Community Resource Centre. A fabulous turnout squeezed into a small room, on a very hot day, with lots of talking, and asking of questions! Donnybrook Arts & Crafts, Dardanup Bull & Barrel Festival, Donnybrook Community Radio, Balingup Art & Craft Affair, The Rabbit Hole Gallery Bridgetown, Yabberup Community Association, and the Donnybrook Apple Festival shared their ideas, up-and-coming projects, and long-term vision.

Country Arts WA staff relish every opportunity to visit the regions. We’re inspired and in awe of the fervour, ingenuity, and never-say-die approach in constant evidence.

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