Celebrating our Connections!
The exhibition at the Queen Victoria Womens Centre
in Melbourne was a wonderful success with more than
80 people coming to help us celebrate the opening October
14, and many more viewing the works over the month that
it was on show.
The artworks looked great and were a stunning example
of the skills and talents that are found in such abundance
among the women of Gippsland. In the exhibition the
artists explored their relationships with their land,
their culture and their community through a range of
materials including baling twine, felt, ceramics, photography
They expressed their personal connection with great
creativity and, as a result, the exhibition was a great
way to show city people a sample of the diversity and
beauty of the High Country.
Many thanks are due. Firstly to all the artists who
shared their vision with us: thankyou and congratulations.
It was a privilege to gain an insight into the forces
that move and inspire you. Special thanks go to the
Deputy Premier and Minister for Victorian Communities,
John Thwaites for opening the exhibition.
Mr Thwaites ongoing commitment to the Women who
Mean Business Project is greatly appreciated. Special
thanks also to two very talented women, Genevieve Fitzgerald
for your wonderful singing and Louise Crisp for your
insightful poetry: you both helped make the launch a
I am also grateful to Deb Bye for being such a masterful
Mistress of Ceremonies, Kate Earle for being a quiet,
practical helper in the background, Anne and Deb
Milligan for letting us borrow your furniture to use
as plinths, Deirdre Jack and her wonderful husband Tom
who helped install the exhibition (your patience was
admirable, Tom!), Penny Carruthers for dismantling it,
and Val Bythe for patiently helping with the fiddly
Thanks also go to Phillipa and Beverley from the Queen
Victoria Womens Centre for all your assistance:
you have been very generous. And, of course, a special
and heartfelt thankyou to Margo Northey and all the
people at the Rural Womens Network for your help
We couldnt have done it without you. It is timely
also to give credit to all the participants in the Omeo/Swifts
Creek working group who have worked tirelessly throughout
the entire project.
Everyone involved has generously shared their skills,
time and resources in order to benefit their communities
and take care of each other - it is a wonderful thing.
Particular mention must go to Deirdre Jack, Maureen
Webb, Annie Richardson and Kate Leggett who held it
together through thick and thin, from start to finish,
and were a great support to me personally.
I would also like to recognise the amazing women on
the project management committee who originally had
the dream all those years ago and have worked tirelessly,
supporting the project workers and participants to bring
it all to fruition - Mary Salce, Eileen Thurgood, Di
Deppeler and Jo McCubbin - all women of commitment and
When I look at the depth and breadth of all the projects
coming to fruition right now across Gippsland I celebrate
my own connection to such a strong and vibrant community.
The Swifts Creek / Omeo Connections Exhibition was opened
by The Deputy Premier and Minister for Victorian Communities,
John Thwaites at at 10am, Friday 14th October, 2005
at the Queen Victoria Womens Centre, 210 Lonsdale
The opening was MC'd by Deb Bye of Life FM Gippsland
(formerly manager of ABC Gippsland) and included performances
by poet Louise Crisp and singer Genevieve Fitzgerald.
The exhibition runs throughout the month of October.
In the exhibition women artists from the High Country
region explore their relationships with their land,
their culture, their community and their heritage through
a range of contemporary art mediums including paintings,
ceramics, print making, textiles, multi media and photography.
Landscape artist Deirdre Jack explains her connection:
'We look to find a sense of the sacred in our engagement
with the landscape. It is about segments of experience,
an environmental essay, an acknowledgement of history,
a presence, a quality. It is taking in the land with
its stunning natural beauty and its harshness with a
connectedness and a respectful addressing of the subject
of 'our patch'. In this exhibition, the artists seek
to express their connection through their work. Some
identify with the people in their community, some with
the built environment and some with the 'art of the
domestic'. 'It is about connecting us to each other,
connecting us to our land and opening out to other people.
It is about sharing our riches.'
The main aim of this show is to promote the High Country
through art; hopefully to attract tourism to the region
and to promote and support local artists. The exhibitors
are all from the High Country region.
Our group has now held a very successful opening of
our photographic exhibition at the Great Alpine Gallery
in Swifts Creek at 1.30pm on Monday 29th August. It
was a great day with over 30 women attending from far
and wide. The photos looked excellent in a gallery setting
and the whole project has certainly been something of
which the participants can feel justifiably proud.
I am a firm believer that every single one of us is
creative at heart and, if presented with the right opportunity
and the right environment, we can realise this creativity.
So it has been wonderful for me to see a group of women
all work through the process of taking the photos, seeing
the potential in the images, learning how to use the
technology to best present the images, right through
to exhibiting in an art gallery.
When the photos first came back from processing there
was a lot of concern that they weren't 'good enough'.
But we had a couple of great sessions where we 'windowed'
the images and started focusing on the play of light,
the beautiful texture of the fleece, the colour and
pattern in the photos. Far from being 'not good enough'
there were a lot of images of great strength and beauty
- we just had to really see them, not just look at them.
Then, with the help of a talented high school student
we learnt how to work with these ideas in Photoshop.
The result is a very strong cohesive exhibition using
both digital and SLR photography. Some images are black
and white, some colour; some are representational, some
abstract. It is a beautiful lasting record of the Back
to Back event that was held in Omeo in June, but it
is not just that. It also shows the strength and spirit
of the community, the beauty of the people and their
joy in being a living part of their own culture. It
is also evidence of the exhibitor's confidence in their
own creativity. There is no going back now!
The Back to Back Photographic Exhibition was officially
opened by Project Officer Deb Milligan. The exhibition
runs at the Great Alpine Gallery, Swifts Creek until
the 12th of September.
The exhibition will also be showing at the East Gippsland
Art Gallery, Bairnsdale from 29th September ~11th October
Outcomes so Far:
- Development process of a project
- Process of making transition from goal to achievement
- The importance of planning and being open to ideas
- Importance of reflection
- Problem solving creatively
- Strategic planning and goal setting
- Decision making
- Group dynamics
- Working with committees
- Participant profiles
- Photographic display
- Realising that we don't have to create a new event
with so many existing ones already in community.
- Help with organising of Back to Back event
- Support with publicity, stalls and encouraged young
people to become involved, improved the program, contacted
- tourist authority.
- Developed program
- Contacted stakeholders
- Assisted with the art & craft markets
- Organised the entertainment
- Group recognised that it was best to do the project
in three parts, Back to Back, photographic exhibition
- Connections exhibition.
- Skills - budget management, photography, story telling/journalling,
exhibiting, funding and submission writing and
- all these skills can be used in other events in
the region at another time.
- Connected with Melbourne galleries.
- Shire consultation
- Larger number of visitors to Back to Back event
- Involved with local restaurants to have lamb on
menu on day of Back to Back event
- Organised own workshops - took initiative
- Confidence to exhibit own artwork in Melbourne
- Supporting Back to Back ensured continuation of
event for next year.
- Publicity on National Radio and in weekly times
- Back to Back was a great success
- Exhibition at Arts Network and at Swifts Creek Gallery
- Sourced potential venues for touring exhibition
- Contacted Galleries both big and small - confidence
to bigger and better things for themselves.
- Deirdre Jack and Deb Milligan having joint exhibition
in Melbourne next year.
- Daniel Jenkins has approached group to do community
project for Swifts Creek/Omeo
- Deputy Premier and Minister for Victorian Communities,
John Thwaites opening the Queen Victoria Women's
- Centre Exhibition. There will be performances by
local poet Louise Crisp and singer Genevieve Fitzgerald,
both from Gippsland. It will be a very exciting exhibition
and we hope to attract a lot of publicity for the
artists and for the high country regions. The main
aim of this show is to promote the High Country through
art, attract tourism, and support local artists. The
exhibitors are all from the High Country.
- Expressions of new found confidence in artistic
ability by exhibitors
- Excitement at exhibiting in Melbourne
- Realisation of how accessible it is
- IN-kind list
- Appreciation of Others and their willingness to