One tiny rural community has tapped into the benefits of fostering creativity and is attracting artisans and creative souls from far and wide. Some communities have a soul of their own; something that might not be seen from the roadside but something that just lies within.
It is a reflection of the people who live and work in the district, those who have gone before, and the ethos that permeates the way things are done when hardships are presented. In 2010, the railway line into Dirranbandi was decommissioned. It was a devastating setback for the district.
The silver lining has been the shift in focus to the re-development of the old railway station and associated infrastructure to not only preserve history, but provide a tourism attraction, events and wedding venue and an artistic hub.
The Dirranbandi Rail and River project, under the leadership of long-time community development volunteer Pam Crothers, is an exciting four-stage project that is well underway. An important aspect of the project has been the restoration of the Goods Shed.
Up until 2010, the Goods Shed was used to store and receive goods from the rail service. The charismatic building is a popular venue to host workshops and foster artistic pursuits.
The space has been the impetus for the formation of a creative hub attracting a number of high profile artists, including multimedia visual artist Michele Morcos, weaving sculpture artist Harriet Goodall and creative teacher and artist Therese Flynn-Clark.
A unique environment in which to create, the natural light in the Goods Shed lends itself to stunning photography. Over the past three years, weaving workshops have been held there with a focus on “place marking” where local materials are foraged and included in the woven creations.
“There is something appealing about the meditative process of weaving. We love coming together to escape the everyday, tell stories and forget about the drought,” said Pam. “Our first workshop was very successful — we have continued to catch up to weave in between.
“Collaborations with like-minded creatives has seen us gain momentum and we have recently tapped into the handmade movement that is happening in St George, under the champion of Kasey Lockwood [of Clear Skies Creative].”
In September this year, Sydney based artist Michele Morcos was invited to come to Dirranbandi to conduct a two-day coil weaving workshop. Michele’s experience was enriched by staying with locals in St George and on properties around Dirranbandi. The concept was so successful it has been suggested that Dirranbandi is the perfect venue for an artist-in-residence program. “We feel like pinching ourselves really — it was brilliant to have someone of Michele’s calibre at our Goods Shed!”
The upcoming exhibition, End of the Line – Where the Journey Begins will open at the Goods Shed on Friday 16 March at 6pm, showcasing the creations from recent workshops and the work of local artists.
Readers may also be interested in this article on WIRE for rural women.