The communities of Gippsland host six artist residency programs, art workshops and more in May at Come and Play 2017.
Leaves and stones; photograph courtesy of Wanda Bennett amd Omeo Primary School.
All of Gippsland comes alive in May to celebrate a breadth of art forms in the most dynamic of ways – all with community involvement. Celebrating its eighth year Come and Play - All of May is a mainstay on the arts festival calendar. With a curated month of arts masterclasses and the announcement of six artist residencies, Gippsland showcases the artistic diversity of the region.
Andrea Court of Creative Gippsland spoke with ArtsHub: ‘Gippsland is a large area with a varying environment; from the high country to the beaches and the lakes, to the smaller hamlets.’ With such a variety in the region the celebrations can offer a vast range of arts activities, with artist masterclasses, workshops and live music.
Ned Dennis from South Gippsland Shire remarked on the diversity of the artists coming forward to participate in the festival. ‘It’s very wide. We are talking to all artists, from painters to film makers, musicians, photographers.’
The celebrations in May highlight the ever growing community participation, especially when it comes to the six artists residencies on offer by the six different shires: East Gippsland, Wellington, Latrobe, South Gippsland, Baw Baw and Bass Coast.
Gippsland celebrates art in May. Photograph courtesy of Wanda Bennett.
The sprawling scenery invites artists to react to the environment in Gippsland for a week long residency. And the response for this year’s Expression of Interest for the artist residencies has been impressive. ‘We have been overwhelmed by the fantastic national response from artists,’ said Court.
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With an innovative way to garner community involvement, representatives for each host shire are asked to pick the artist in residence for their area. Dennis said, ‘The representatives of each of the six shires have a look at the artist applications when they come in and they will assess to see what might work within their community.’
The residencies enable the community to give an artist the platform to explore and express their practice in completely new environments; this also gives the community agency to curate the artist that they feel represents their area.
This fosters an open dialogue with the artist and communities Dennis explained: ‘It’s quite regular that we will have two different communities or even three communities requesting the same set of artists,’ Dennis said. The buzz is contagious as negotiations for the right artist in the right area are conducted. ‘It’s very collaborative and the host community get the final call.’
It is clear that the team at Come and Play - All of May are a conduit to the artist and to the community by doing an incredible job of bringing communications to the fore, ‘its an enabling network that encourages communities to be independent,’ Dennis said.
As the announcement for the artist residencies in April draws closer the team at Creative Gippsland are excited about the community’s passion and the celebrations ahead, ‘schools get involved, neighbourhood houses, everybody is buzzing, there are a lot of people involved,’ Court said.
To learn more about Come and Play - All of May 2017 visit: www.creativegippsland.com.au