Some say Nowa Nowa, in lovely East Gippsland, is one of Australia’s most disadvantaged postcodes, but right now local artists are planning to demonstrate that the good life is not all about consumption and the endless pursuit of possessions. Their art project, centrepiece of the Long Now Weekend, 24-25 November, has grown from an idea in the documentary ‘The Gleaners and I’ Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse, a film by Agnes Varda. Sounds like a great weekend in a gorgeous part of Oz…read how a small community got funding and ‘did it’ – and send off your shaggy dogs?
Local ideas lady, Andrea Lane, says:
“The film got me thinking. I saw ‘gleaning’ in a new, more extreme, light. (I had always been an op shopping type – so have always loved the joy of finding a treasure) but this film showed gleaning on a new scale.
And the more I looked around me, the more I liked it. People making the most of what they have, making tractors out of bits and pieces; caravans out of old real estate signs (true!), art from junk, gardens grown from cuttings, beekeepers in action – people living lives more in tune with reality.
Then the more I thought about it.. the more artistry I saw in it. So the idea kept fermenting… that there was a creative/arts project lurking in there somewhere…that could celebrate this unique culture.”
Turning a dilapidated house into a ‘display home’ celebrates gleaning, making-do, re-using, recycling, ingenuity and authenticity through art, sculpture, video, textiles, photography, recollections, scrap metal, words and sounds, a multi-media/sculptural installation.
Artistic direction is by local artist Gary Yelen, and artwork by East Gippsland’s most innovative artists. The project has been supported by the Department of Victorian Communities and all funds raised will be directed to the Nowa Nowa community.
Local artists, gold and silversmiths Marcus Foley and Dore Stockhausen, are part of an artist team that will renovate the ‘art house’. They are ‘doing’ the bathroom and have chosen toothbrushes as the base product for tiles.
They desperately need old toothbrushes – 1500!! – to complete their artwork in time for The Long Now Weekend, 24 – 25 November, 2007.
They say it doesn’t matter how many bike chains you have cleaned with them. It doesn’t matter if the bristles are black. All shapes and sizes are welcome! Please send your shaggy dogs to Marcus Foley c/- Metung Post Office, Vic. 3904.
“Somewhere along the way, I also read a paper presented by Pamille Berg on public art. She spoke about the importance of public art growing from grassroot authenticity… about supporting artists to reveal that uniqueness in local communities.
She also referred to the ‘Long Now’ concept that places us where we belong, not at the beginning or at the end of history, but right in the thick of it. All this set me off on another googling escapade and became the basis for our Long Now weekend, a weekend of contentment, with the ‘Open for Inspection’ project/contentment as the centrepiece ie living with less, living more sustainable lives, enjoying what we have, which is probably far more than we need.
The whole concept started to fall into place…the value of this unique community in an increasingly bland, bland world…and how their skills were becoming more ‘precious’…and also how things were all a bit less frantic when you didn’t have the ‘shopping centre’ stampede to contend with every Sunday…and that it all needed to be celebrated!
My husband, Gary, and I had bought a little house in Nowa Nowa a year or so before, (for land value price I suppose). We discovered that the house was pretty rotten. And it certainly wasn’t very attractive (no nice ‘vintage’ features at all!). It seemed a shame to knock it down ( too much of that going on already) but it wasn’t really worth renovating… so we figured that while we decided what to do with it…we’d turn it into an artspace which we hoped would become an artist ‘magnet’.
Because we weren’t sentimental about the house at all – we didn’t really care what any artist might want to do to it.. knock out walls, cut holes in the floor… paint wherever … we really felt that the only way a derelict house could become an asset to the community was to ‘be creative’.
So we donated the house to the project (we still own it, but we get no rent or income for it – and we pay the running costs and for structural repairs required to keep things safe). We have donated it for the life of the project – which at this stage is until April 2008 – but we like the idea of it becoming a permanent artist space, if it attracts enough interest. So, ‘Open for Inspection’ was born.
THE GRANT PROCESS
I spent January/February writing the funding proposals to Arts Victoria and the Regional Arts Fund via Regional Arts Victoria (RAV) and to the East Gippsland Shire Arts Alliance. Although each application was for a distinct part of the project – they were all clearly related to the common theme.
A $15,000 RAV grant was used to commission the 10 – 15 artists that have been engaged to ‘do their thing’ in the house. They are creating the ‘Open for Inspection’ display home.
$15,000 from Arts Victoria was used to engage social documentary maker Malcolm McKinnnon. Malcolm has made a short film about Nowa Nowa’s ‘finest gleaners’ which will have its world premiere in Nowa Nowa on the Long Now Weekend. [We’ve just named the film ‘Precious little’. We like the connotations of how precious the people and the skills are. And how ‘little’ things are precious. That ‘little’ is probably enough. And we think it refers to the grander idea of finite resources.]
$10,000 from East Gippsland Shire Arts Alliance was used to engage the local community in the project through workshops, activities, story telling, music, and generally celebrating the good life (petanque, walking, fishing, relaxing, being.)
Since then we’ve attracted additional funding from Destination Gippsland – which will allow us to fund ‘Indige-nouse’. The bit we call the ‘real deal’ when it comes to sustainable lifestyles. We are working with a great Indigenous crew led by Robert Andy, who will be building a bark hut and demonstrating ‘real gleaning’ (traditional bush skills and food).
I wish I had more time to write more coherently. (squeezing all this in around my real job keeps me on my toes!) Everyone is very interested in the project.. there is so much more to tell! I guess you’ll have to come along to see how it all works out!”
The Long Now At Nowa Nowa – What’s On
FLOTSAM & JETSAM
- ‘Good stuff on the lake’
- Lake Tyers boat rally – launch@ Mingling Waters Jetty
- Lake Tyers tours to devil’s Hole on the Rubeena
- Lake Tyers kayak tours with Indigenous guides.
An exhibition of textile and fibre arts created from pre-used materials.
THE NOT SO LONG WALK
Trestle to the gorge – a lakeside walk on the Nowa Nowa Walk
MADE IN EAST GIPPSLAND
Art and produce, locally made *artist-led workshops *graphic art poster competition *art cards *local tucker *local skills *local knowledge *sculpture walk *exhibitions *conversations *small scale *low impact.
- Music at Mingling Waters
- Petanque on the piste
- Nowa Nowa Community Room opening
- Rail Trail to Nowa Nowa
- Alpine Car Rally
- Pony Club
- Sunday Fishing Comp.