A group of 10 especially selected local artists gathered at Bithry Inlet for three days in mid-August to take part in the third creative field studies retreat run by the Four Winds team as part of the Bermagui Project.
This field studies weekend was the last of three which have been aimed at sharing knowledge of place and inspiring creative responses to the exquisite landscape and significance of country, with particular focus on the estuarine environment between Mumbulla and Gulaga Mountains. The resulting artworks, created by over 30 local artists, will be presented in an exhibition entitled Fresh Salt to be held in Canberra in October and then shown locally towards the end of the year.
“The idea behind the field studies is that we immerse artists in nature and present them with a curated program of expert ‘knowledge sharers’– people passionate and well-informed about the region’s environment and its history. This transfer of wisdom inspires artists to create new work that expresses the sometimes very complex ideas presented to them. That work goes on to present those complex issues in creative, accessible and easily understandable ways.” Says Lara Crew, the Producer of Four Winds Create and Inspire Program.
The latest study focused on the geographic area marked by Wapengo, Middle and Nelsons Lagoons. The broad themes for the Creative Field Studies retreats are developed in conjunction with two artistic co-ordinators selected from the local community. Leading this third field study were Justina Legoe, a Bermagui visual artist, and David Hewitt, the highly acclaimed composer and percussionist.
Knowledge sharers and participating artists included: Warren Foster, Yuin Community leader, Marr and Marina Grounds, son and granddaughter of Roy Grounds who was the architect of Myer House at Bithry Inlet; Warwick Anderson from Kingfisher Oysters; Mark McKenna and Fiona Firth, historians and authors; Lee Cruse, Yuin artist; Dr Rosemary Beaumont, social ecologist and forest activist; Emma Maratea, estuary scientist; Deb Nave, outdoor educator from the Tanja Lagoon Camp; Victoria Nelson, sculptor and visual artist; Skye Etherington, visual and performance artist; Lee Pemberton, nationally renowned choreographer; Delia Silvan, dancer/choreographer; and David Gallan, filmmaker.
Over the course of the three days the artists came to understand more deeply this unique estuary region on the far south coast of New South Wales, and the ways in which history, the natural environment and the people who live and work there come to define a sense of place. “There were many special moments. We were given access to some of the most remote and pristine parts of our region. We heard from locals and others passionate about the area how this place has been experienced and lived and how it has been nurtured and understood by generations”, said one participant at the end of the weekend.
This project is part of Four Winds’ commitment to nurturing and creating art inspired by place. It is about raising awareness and starting a discussion through art. “At the Four Winds Easter Festival, we always encourage our audience to surrender to the beauty of the natural surroundings. This project is a continuation of that philosophy”, Lara explained.
To find out more you can read the Field Studies blog at: www.fourwinds.com.au or call 02 6493 3414.