'Confluence' is the term used to describe the meeting of two bodies of water. It is also an apt term to describe the aims of At the Junction of Two Rivers – the creative and social exchange of ideas.
Set in the historically significant town of Wellington, NSW, at the junction of the Macquarie and Bell Rivers, this project will see three metropolitan and four regional artists (one from Wellington) participate in a residency, culminating in a site-specific exhibition.
The project brings together artists with diverse processes, working across photography, installation, sculpture, craft and socially-engaged participatory projects. Many of the artists share a common interest in examining social and material histories and the questioning of conventional narratives, whereas others are deeply involved with community action and engagement. During the residency the artists will spend time with members of the community, exchanging ideas as well as undertaking research and studio practice.
Curated by Holly Williams and Glenn Barkley from The Curators' Department and Kent Buchanan Curator of Western Plains Cultural Centre, and with support from Orana Arts, the artists will engage with Wellington’s social, cultural and physical landscape during the residency and with particular local sites including the Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum, Macquarie Theatre, Wellington Caves and Oxley Museum.
Participating artists include:
Liane Rossler (Sydney)
Asher Milgate (Wellington, now based in Sydney)
Karla Dickens (Wiradjuri, Lismore)
Raquel Ormella (Sydney)
The Ronalds (Ganmain)
Simon Yates (Sydney)
Artist in Residence phase: With all participating artists in Wellington (NSW) July 2016.
Exhibition: October - November 2016.
Liane Rossler (Sydney) is artist, designer, curator and creative adviser for issues relating to design and the environment. She develops collaborative, socially engaged projects for diverse audiences alongside her emerging solo ceramics practice. Her work is focused on a clever and beautiful sustainable design practice, with an emphasis on community and creative cultural engagement.
ABOUT THE WORK
Wellington is surrounded by such striking and beautiful landscape. The golden grasses by the roadside, the incredible caves, the lakes and mountains, the arboretum and fern gully and the breathtaking Mount Arthur reserve.
‘Sweet Nature. Wellington Landscape’ is inspired by the natural beauty of Wellington. From the mosses and lichens and pioneer plants that contribute to the ecosystem to the unique and diverse native vegetation that creates habitat, sustenance, serenity and beauty. The ceramic works are made from Australian clay and created in a direct process from earth to form expressing the natural qualities of the material. The work is designed as an interior landscape and mini eco-system that includes a collection of locally grown plants to reflect the surroundings.
The Burrendong Botanic Gardens and Arboretum were established in 1964 by the Althofers, who had a mission to create a special place to conserve and display native plants from all over Australia. They spent their life dedicated to conserving and preserving nature and species diversity, and now with over 2,500 species of native plants, it is the one of Australia’s major regional botanic gardens. I loved meeting the passionate team at the Arboretum who work tirelessly to nurture this incredible place and continue to create such a special place for us all.
Raquel Ormella (Sydney) works a diverse range of media including textile, drawings, video and installation. She has an ongoing interest in the interactions between humans and birds. For the project Ormella will make and broadcast field recordings and stories.
Ormella has been exhibiting regularly since the late 1990s. She has held solo exhibitions at Artspace, Sydney, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Her work has been included in many significant group exhibitions including the Asia Art Biennial, Taiwan, (2015), the 1st Californian Pacific Triennial, USA (2013), the Shanghai Biennale, China (2012), and the Biennale of Sydney (2008). Ormella's work is held in numerous public collections including National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and Museum of Old and New Art, MONA, Hobart, Tasmania.
Asher Milgate (Wellington, now based in Sydney) works predominantly with photography, sound and video. Much of his work has focussed on the regional landscape and communities, his most recent project recorded oral histories and photographic portraits local Indigenous Elders and Elders-to-be in Wellington.
Milgate has been exhibiting regularly over the last decade, having received honorable mentions in the International Photography Awards (IPA) over a dozen times. His work is held in private collections all over the globe including England, Chile, Germany, Dubai, Cambodia and Australia.
ABOUT THE WORK
Growing up in Wellington sets me up for an insiders point of view. The observations of the other artists allowed me to channel a visitors perspective of Wellington. The current work is about two perspectives, two spiritual beliefs and the connection that we share to Wellington and Australia. Acknowledge the beginning of both histories Colonial /missionary history and the local Wiradjuri history linking back thousands of years. Through cultural implements and observations this story will be told.
Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens (Lismore) incorporates text into her installations which use found materials to create layered works exploring Aboriginality, politics, love, sexuality and the environment.
Dickens completed a Diploma of Fine Arts (1990) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (2000) at the National Art Schhol, Sydney. She has exhibited regularly since 1994 in solo, group and community projects. Dickens was awarded the NPWS Northern Rivers Region Aboriginal Art Award in 2006 & 2007, and was the winner of the New South Wales Parliament Art Prize in 2013.
Her most recent show was Black and Blue at Andrew Baker in Brisbane. Dickens' work has been included in group exhibitions including TarraWarra Biennial 2014: Whisper in My Mask at TarraWarra Museum of Art; Hereby Make Protest at Carriageworks, Sydney; The Native Institute at Blacktown Arts Centre and Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu at Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA), Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (2015).
Engaging with historic traces, the collaborative duo The Ronalds (Ganmain) investigate rural locations and themes – documenting the natural and architectural heritage of rural Australia. In recent work the artists have deployed techniques of hyper-real photography combining an element of play and interactivity to the remote rural locations that are their subject.
The Ronalds both studied at Charles Sturt University in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They have been exhibiting regularly around the country since that time. In 2002 they were included in the New Australian Photo Artist of the Year Award at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. Their work is regularly selected for commission and acquisition across Australia.
ABOUT THE WORK
Quick Fix explores our fascination with vernacular rural architecture and preserving relics of the near past that may soon be erased, as main street shopping districts move to modern malls. Currently over 50% of shops in Wellingtons CBD are vacant, and with a proposed façade beautification project on the horizon, we have chosen to re-present these unoccupied stores as if in a fairytale, popping out from the page refurbished, shiny and new.
In Wellington there is an absence of nonessential stores, speciality retailers that are a sign of prosperity in a township. But what are the chances that renovating the facades will attract new business in a town dubbed “little Antarctica” due to the high volume of the drug ice ravaging the community, a community where up to an estimated 60% of the people rely on welfare. Would boutique stores solve any of the town’s woes or is it simply a fantasy?
Simon Yates' (Sydney) work for this project will explore the juxtaposition of a European name and narrative (the victorious Duke of Wellington) in the Australian context, relating it to broader issues of colonialism, and the superimposition of histories on landscape. Yates creates objects of curiosity from ephemera that time has abandoned, describing himself as a maker and observer. His creations of robots, toys and lo-tech gadgets turn found objects, obsolete technology and cheap materials, into interpretations of the world around him.
His works for the exhibition include a hand-drawn comic book called, The Duel, and two installations further engaging with an imaginary story about the historical figure of Wellington and his arch-enemy Napoleon Bonaparte visiting the present day town of Wellington.