The Regions: delivering exceptional arts experiences to the community

Andrea Simpson

Four unique art projects, delivered in the Toowoomba region and managed by the Alexandra Lawson Gallery, have left an indelible mark on the participating artists and the communities.
The Regions: delivering exceptional arts experiences to the community

Dan Elborne: Permanence. Photo by Kirsty Lee.

From Nobby to Oakey, Hampton to Millmerran and Goombungee, the Toowoomba region has seen a flurry of creative activity in the months of March and April. This community vitality is the result of an innovative new project: The Regions.

The Regions, managed by the Alexandra Lawson Gallery and funded by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnered initiative between the Queensland Government and the Toowoomba Regional Council, enables local, national and international artists to present to the communities of Toowoomba.

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‘The purpose of the grant was to bring artists to the regions around Toowoomba so those smaller communities would have access to artists and art projects they normally wouldn’t be able to access,’ Laura Black, Co-Director of The Regions, told ArtsHub.

’Sindikit Dinner | Eva Koch: Artist Talks

Curatorially led by Alexandra Lawson, The Regions was determined to deliver bespoke creative encounters, such as a curated dialogue dinner by Baltimore art collaboration ‘Sindikit to a cross-cultural exchange of ideas with artist talks by Danish sculptor and video artist Eva Koch.

However Lawson and Black didn’t anticipate the incredible flow-on effects the unique projects would have on the communities and the artists involved.

‘It can be a challenge to get the community to engage with something different, but the response has been extremely positive. ‘Sindikit found the engagement with the community to be such a positive experience,’ Black said.

The art collaboration ‘Sindikit worked with a local community group, The Mulberry Project (a market garden in Nobby that is managed by Louise Noble and newly settled migrants) to create the unique dinner experience. Through their interactions ‘Sindikit were profoundly moved by the work occurring at The Mulberry Project.

‘‘Sindikit took away so many ideas and new material to stimulate future work for that migrant community. And for Nobby, which is a tiny little town, to have artists come in from across the world who are interested, keen and engaged and work with them was very affirming for that community, and for that community to feel “we are valued",' said Black.

Kirsty Lee: Finding Space | Dan Elborne: Permanence

Local Toowoomba artists, Kirsty Lee and Dan Elborne, were also involved in The Regions. With community support, this opportunity enabled the artists to respond to the region, and engage further with their community.

Dancer and video artist Kirsty Lee created three video works based on the communities of Hampton, Millmerran and Goombungee titled Finding Space, she  said in her artist statement, ‘The body is my form. Video is my language.’

‘Each of the videos in the Finding Space series uses the body as an entry point to human experience,’ Lee explained. ‘The work explores how we may identify ourselves against landscapes.’

Working alongside Danish video artist Koch, Lee was able to discuss ideas and the nature of using video as a medium within both artists’ works.

Black said, ‘The opportunity for Kirsty to spend time with Eva was extraordinary. Kirsty’s current location in the Toowoomba community would not usually afford conversations with a Danish video installation artist.'

Elborne, a ceramicist, had the opportunity to make a smaller scale more personal work than his usual large installation projects for his exhibition Permanence. His exhibition runs from 12-28 April in the Rosalie Gallery, Goombungee.

‘Essentially I have been collecting remnants of larger scale projects – the waste material … Powder and dust … The product of larger scale projects now turned into objects that honour that process, and honour that material,’ Elborne explained.

Also as part of The Regions project, local Indigenous artist, Kim Walmsley will be facilitating mark-making workshop to be held in the Rosalie Gallery.

Black said, ‘It’s a testament to Alexandra’s work. The Toowoomba Regional Council really trusted her with the project. And trusted us to be able to pull together such diverse projects, it works on so many different levels.

‘The project works as it brings people into these regions, enables a wider dialogue and also allows a longer flow-on effect for the community.’

https://www.theregions.net/

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy