Opening speech by Bundaberg Artist, Julie Hylands
I would like to take a moment to respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of this land we stand on and pay respect to their elders – past present and emerging, and acknowledge the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play in our community.
I have been asked to give a brief talk tonight on behalf of the participating artists to discuss our experiences of being involved with this project. I put it to everybody to give me some feedback and from this, many shared views came to light – the most popular being that of the friendships and contacts made.
As someone who has recently moved back to the area after a long absence, this was probably the most important aspect for me as I did not know anybody involved with the show at the onset, or anything about the art community in the region. I now feel I have made some enduring friendships with not only the wonderful artists, but other people in the arts community of Bundaberg. I’m very impressed with the level and scope of talent that is present here in our own backyard. Something that Bundaberg should be very very proud of, and also nurture and support.
Other feedback that arose was that of ‘first experiences’. For some it was the first time they had been involved in a curated group show and dealt with the processes involved in this – i.e. the workshopping of ideas as a group – how we came to the overall concept and name for the show; the meeting of timelines involved; and the installation of the show.
Whilst a few of the artists have had some experience in working 3 dimensionally in our careers – (and this was part of the brief for the show); others had limited or no experience of making installation art or sculpture – so these guys were definitely stepping out of their comfort zones and venturing in new directions by working with unfamiliar mediums. There has been much problem solving and collaboration along the way and several of the artists have mentioned their keenness towards future collaborations – I strongly feel there will be many projects or exhibitions that will be an offshoot from our involvement in #tag&release.
Another challenge for the group is that we had to make art that would be shown in two very different gallery spaces. We had to be mindful of the difference in size and shape of the two galleries and also the fact that the walls of the gallery in Brisbane at ‘The Judith Wright Centre’ are painted black – whereas here at BRAG we were dealing with white walls and rooms that are separated by corridors. So lots of challenges there!
Exposure of our art practices on both a local and state level is another common issue the artists mentioned and hopefully it may lead to some bigger and better exhibiting and/or employment opportunities for us all.
On behalf of the artists involved, I would like to thank Zoe the Exhibitions Officer and all the other staff here at BRAG; RADF for the funding; Flying Arts Alliance for providing the curator Beth Jackson; the Judith Wright Centre for allowing us to exhibit in Brisbane and of course Shelley Pisani and the amazing team at Creative Regions for instigating and supporting the project as part of the ‘Crush Festival’, Thank you Creative Regions.
It has been fantastic working with and getting to know the lovely Beth Jackson who unfortunately can’t be with us tonight – Beth is our curator and mentor (from Brisbane) who has gently but steadfastly ‘steered the boat’ through this whole project by not only offering support and guidance when needed, but also encouraging collaboration and allowing the artists to have a voice in decision making processes and also advocating for us. A big thank you to Beth Jackson!
Finally, I’d really like to thank the other amazing artists involved – it has been an absolute pleasure and privilege getting to know you all and working with you all. I have really enjoyed this whole process and learnt what a varied and thriving community of artists the Bundaberg region has on offer. I look forward to future collaborations, exhibitions and interaction with you all!
THANK YOU so much to everybody for coming along tonight to support your local artists! Enjoy the art!