Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Raving mad for Farm Gate art

By Tracey Armstrong, John Cecil

Residents in the Shire of Ravensthorpe are currently hosting something a little different in their paddocks.

Glinting in the sun amongst the wheat and sheep fields, you may just come across a queenly old truck named Beatrice, or a tree decorated with T's.

Further down the track, a bottlebrush created with street sweeper attachments might catch your eye, or a broken down piano living out its final days in the field.

Just when you think you are going mad, you may just discover a tea party with a meter high tea pot, and perhaps a few characters hiding in the giant cups and saucers.

It's all a part of the Farm Gate Art Trail, run through the Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council.

Have a listen to ABC's John Cecil speak with Sue Leighton about the project, and click through the photos above to see some of works on display.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gondwana Panorama


The Gondwana Panorama landscape photography and film workshops, curating workshop and exhibition will open at the Vancouver Arts Centre in early February. Official opening will be 8 Feb sat lunchtime and will feature an address by UWA professor Stephen Hopper, Artist talks and a presentation about the Gondwana link.
 Due to the project being driven from Denmark it is currently lacking in film or photography of the section of the Gondwana link around Ravenshtorpe and Hopetoun and it is hoped that there are some keen photographers who may have some stunning landscape and panorama shots or 360deg footage from or of Ravensthorpe Range, East and West Mount Barren and would be keen to be involved in the curating workshop and the exhibition.
Interested photographers are encouraged to contact Amber Perryman, Arts Development Officer, at the Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany on  9841 9418, who can provide more information and perhaps assist with accommodation.

Monday, October 28, 2013

...and yet More Wheel of Fortunes!

This is an article written for Dance West Magazine by Annette Carmichael from Ausdance WA, producer of Wheel of Fortunes as part of the state wide community dance project, Future Landings 2013.

This article was first published by Ausdance WA, Dancewest magazine.

Future Landings

Annette Carmichael writes about the impact of Ausdance WA’s regional program, Future Landings 2013.


Wheel of Fortunes

It’s a giant Wheat Bin and the wind is howling through it.  Jason Thelwell, our intrepid Production Manager is calling for rope, lots of it, to stablise the lighting bars before he hoists them up into this massive space.


I’m standing in the Jerdacuttup Wheat Bin, the most remote destination in Ausdance WA’s Future Landings 2013 season.  Future Landings is a groundbreaking contemporary dance initiative designed to bring dance and cultural experiences to remote Western Australia.  It presents a unique opportunity for communities in isolated locations to work with regional and Perth choreographers, artists and filmmakers to create large scale performances each unique to their town and with each cast made up entirely of locals.


Future Landings 2013 includes projects in Broome, Karratha and the Shire of Ravensthorpe which includes Jerdacuttup.  This thirty-six year old Wheat Bin is an icon of the Wheatbelt acting as a reminder to the community of the significance of good and bad harvests.  Its immense size allowed it to hold 31,533 tons of wheat back in 1999, but it’s empty now, so we are going to fill it with dance, story and film to create Wheel of Fortunes.


Wheel of Fortunes has been created by Perth choreographer Aimee Smith with Denmark-based writing facilitator Nicola-Jane le Breton and the communities of Hopetoun, Ravensthorpe and Jerdacuttup.  The performance explores the concepts of richness and loss in these communities.


The region has a long and deep history of growth and demise, shaped largely by the ebbs and flows of both the mining and farming industries as well as its unique geographic isolation. These places are filled with stories of opportunity and risk, of success and failure, of joy and sadness.  Through working closely with the writers of the towns, and integrating text with the performance, the communities’ cycles of fortunes, and misfortunes, and the resilience that has blossomed through it all, are revealed.


In the days leading up to the performance I was often told by participants how amazed they were by Aimee’s calm, patient guidance.  It was a reciprocal admiration as Aimee wrote for the local newspaper:


Every time I come to this community I'm blown away by the generosity I'm shown and the unbelievable Duracell battery energy that seems to run the creative community in this town. The literature that emerged during the community writing sessions really moved me and brought some incredible stories of hardship, endurance, and joy to the surface.


Local filmmaker, Amber Perryman has created a series of films that evoke the environment, the rain, the history.  These films are projected inside the Wheat Bin and the corrugated iron textures the film while local voices speak local memories.


The success of this project is a credit to the Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council who were extraordinary partners, co-presenting the project and providing a richness of skill, networks and practical support.  Project Co-ordinator, Ainsley Foulds said the Arts Council were keen to be involved for a number of reasons:


The RRAC wanted to provide the community with the opportunity to engage in an innovative and stimulating project that is enjoyable, inspiring and challenging.  We also wanted to provide local artists and arts workers with professional development in areas such as writing, choreography, filmmaking and project management under the mentorship of experienced professionals.  Wheel of Fortunes was our chance to gain valuable insight into the local interest, and the potential for, including contemporary dance into future programs - an art form which the RRAC has little previous experience with.  Ultimately we wanted to promote a sense of belonging and community cohesion by engaging in a large scale collaborative project that embraces community life and cultural identity.


On Saturday 12 October, the buses rolled in from all over the district bringing 300 people to witness a performance that could only be made here, about these people and their lives.  Performed by nineteen people, aged 13 – 70 years the show also included a dog, four bikes, a spinning wheel and an impressive and strongly secured lighting rig!


Men of the Red Earth

The need for lots of rope was an ongoing theme in this years Future Landings.  Men of the Red Earth, was the title of our project in the Pilbara that included performances by 7 local men in two locations, Point Samson and Karratha for the Red Earth Arts Festival in September.


This performance culminated in a man abseiling head first from a crane to the stage, then ascending again with another dancer for an ironic aerial ballet -  a little dig at the untrue stereotype that ‘footy players in tutus’ was the extent of men dancing in the Pilbara.


Overturning stereotypes was what this project was all about.  The dancers who came from a range of backgrounds - tradesmen, managers, scientists and a drag queen, wanted to show that there was more to being a bloke in the Pilbara than just drinking beer.


The performance opened with a film by local artist Tangiora Hinaki featuring Xena, the drag queen, simply walking along the highway, the vision is interrupted by a series of text messages, all actually received by participants, that express ’surprise’ (but in more colourful language) at the idea of men dancing.


Karratha choreographer Megan Wood-Hill and  her mentor, Perth-based Jacob Lehrer have facilitated an empowering creative process that embraced the challenges and celebrated the sheer fun of being a man of the Pilbara. 


Local businesses got behind the project with all manner of heavy equipment being provided free like buses, the crane and a donga used for the set.   The project attracted extensive media interest with local, state and national media running stories. 


In an interview on ABC regional radio one project participant, Fonda, described how the Men of the Red Earth project had embraced him fully, making space for both Fonda and Xena (his drag queen persona).  When asked by the reporter what he had got out of the project Fonda said, “new friends and a sense of belonging and everyone in that dance group has pushed their boundaries and really, really come together.   It is one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of.”


Megan Wood-Hill grew up in Karratha and has worked as a dance teacher and performer in South Korea, Japan and Australia.  Future Landings provided her with a chance to choreograph in new ways:


The idea of working with men was unknown and exciting.  I was inspired by the chance to work with male physicality, strength and a higher appetite for risk than I had experienced before. 


What’s been really interesting is watching how the group has evolved.  Some knew each other before and some are new and I have seen them embrace each other.  It’s a shared and unique journey and strong bonds have been formed very quickly. 


Future Landings is about demystifying contemporary dance.  In these projects contemporary dance makes sense to regional audiences because it is used to explore issues important to the community.  It’s a style of dance that can enfold the contradictions, diverse opinions and simple unknowns that are part of life in regional Western Australia.


With ongoing funding from both State and Australian Governments, we look forward to another Future Landings season in 2015.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

More Wheel of Fortunes

So many photos of the Wheel of Fortunes performance and celebration have been flooding was hard to choose which ones to upload; and impossible not to smile when going through them.

It was just a fantastic experience all round.
Congratulations our amazing choreographer Aimee Smith who has just received a 2013 Realise Your Dream Award through the British Council Australia. The award includes an individual professional development program based in the UK, return flights and $5000.
More information about Aimee and the Award can be found at

Enjoy the photos....and be sure to scroll through to read some audience and performer comments at the end.

Please convey to every single person who was involved my personal congratulations for this achievement.   The concept was very innovative and the execution of the whole event was nothing short of inspired.
Please make special mention to all the ladies in the kitchen who produced a first class "country-style" meal, hot, plentiful and very tasty and the beautiful selection of sweets so varied and yummy !!
Also once more thank you for covering the cost of the bus for us, through your grant.
Sally, Esperance.
So happy your writing was performed in the piece - it was a fitting, uplifting and moving finale. You all did so incredibly well, and I was so happy watching you all and seeing and hearing the stories come to life as I knew they would. And then hearing afterwards how touched the audience members were, and how many of them recognised themselves in the stories that were shared.
It was an honour to be a part of the whole process.
Nicola, Denmark.
A quick note to thank you so very much for giving us the chance to participate in the WOF project.
We have had a marvellous time, writing, dancing, laughing and enjoying the camaraderie that goes with such a production.
 Thank you! We will miss it!
Dorothy, Munglinup
I just wanted to say thank you very much for such a moving experience. I loved hearing our story, but the entire night was spectacular. The dancing and the words together worked so amazingly well. And the projector was so great!

... you did a brilliant job last night. Thanks so very much for making last night such a lovely community event.
Leonie, Jerdacuttup

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed it last night. You all did an amazing job. Everything including the music, food, stories, performances and the way the wheat bin had been set up was absolutely brilliant and it was great to see so many people including the kids involved in it all!

I am so happy that I attended
Rachael, Hopetoun.