Performing Lines’ Associate Producer Emma Corrick has just returned from Artstate in Bathurst, enriched by an incredible program of arts events, speakers and conversations. Read on to find out why we’re so inspired by the Central West right now…
Performing Lines reports on Artstate Bathurst 2018
2018 is the second iteration of Artstate following Lismore last year. It’s an annual Regional Arts NSW event that connects the sector and showcases artistic and cultural practice across the state, this year featuring Bathurst and the Central West.
An inspiring program of speakers across two days focussed on themes of place, arts practice that responds to culture and landscape, and the contribution of the arts to regional communities.
The integration of Aboriginal arts and arts leaders is a key focus of Artstate, and the generous opening keynote from Wiradyuri artist Jonathan Jones was an absolute highlight. Jonathan spoke of our ngurambang, the very special camp we inhabit in south-east Australia, and how the significant sites in the area demonstrate why all Australians should love this country.
An important local site is of course Wahluu (Mt Panorama). In the event’s opening ceremony, we learnt the story of Wahluu, a young warrior who’s body became the mountain when he was killed by his jealous older brother. Wahluu traditionally means ‘male initiation site’, and in a sense, it continues to be so through the racing events and festivities that surround them.
This relationship between the community and the mountain is being explored in the Wahluu Racing Team Project. This community-led program connects local high school students with Wiradyuri Elders to learn about local histories, totems, traditional Wiradyuri painting techniques, and graphic design principles. Students design race-car livery and gain permission from the Elders to incorporate a totem that reflects their spirit and personality into the design. Completed designed are then coded into a networked racing simulator and students are incentivised to ‘earn’ racing time. The project engages and empowers young people to succeed and contribute to their community.
Young voices were a key component of Artstate conversations. We heard vital perspectives from three young artists from the Central West – Alison Plevey, James T. Farley, and Henry Simmons – and about their significant contributions to arts practice and their communities. These artists prove it is possible to work globally from a regional place and highlight the enduring impact of investment in artist development.
Talented young performers also featured on stage for the premiere season of The Climbing Tree from BMEC and ATYP. Written by Rachael Coopes and directed by Stephen Champion, the work brings the essence and histories of Bathurst to the stage. You can catch it at Riverside Parramatta later this month. And they’re right you know, there’s nothing like a cup of Sofala Gold from Annie’s under the Climbing Tree.
See you in Tamworth for Artstate 2019!