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ARTISTS SURVEY #23: Artists in Pandemic Isolation

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Artists Survey #23 Composite

 

ARTISTS HAVE ALWAYS ADAPTED TO AND EMBRACED CHANGE IN CHALLENGING TIMES OFTEN WORKING IN ISOLATION. Nearing the end of their artists in residence in Finland, Australian artist Julie Barratt and Argentinian photographer Solange Baques found themselves stranded on the other side of a pandemic stricken world. Concerned for their friend and colleague, Cooper and Spowart  connected with Barratt and proposed the concept of a collaborative Artists Survey book project to present the artists’ experiences during the COVID-19 enforced isolation.

This small book compilation is published by the Centre for Regional Arts Practice is the result of the collaboration. It is a small gesture to bridge the vast physical and psychological distance that this pandemic has engendered.

Here is the story of Artists Survey #23: Artists in Pandemic Isolation project.

 

THE BACKSTORY TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF THE ARTISTS SURVEY

The Centre for Regional Arts Practice (acronym C.R.A.P.) was founded in 2007 during an artist in residence at Arthur Boyd’s Bundanon property near Nowra on the NSW south coast. As artists’ bookmakers, we saw the opportunity to produce a democratic multiple publication to present our perspective on regional artist experience and to develop C.R.A.P. manifestoes.

All of our C.R.A.P. Artists Survey books draw upon humour and irony of the prosaic routines and events encountered in life of a regional artist. These publications are usually produced in editions of 25 with 5 artist’s proofs. They are humble handmade books which are sold to collectors and institutions – most are given away to friends and peers.

Some early C.R.A.P. Artists Survey books

The C.R.A.P. and its Artists Surveys have become a vehicle for highlighting, critiquing and questioning many issues both local and global affecting regional artists. The 23 editions to date have included topics such as Swine Flu, The Global Financial Crisis and Global warming. On seven occasions collaborative Artists Survey books have been created with a regional artists.

In late March we witnessed Julie Barratt’s situation as a participation in an artist’s residency in regional Finland. At that time the viral pandemic was closing the world down and cutting off homeward travel with airlines grounded. Though Julie seemed unphased we thought our shared isolation experiences could be an important commentary on these times. So we suggested to Julie our idea of a C.R.A.P. Artists Survey book about Covid-19 isolation and she agreed enthusiastically. Within a a short time Julie’s compatriot in isolation – Argentinian photographer Solange joined the project.

Screen snaps of Facebook group meetings

We formed a Facebook group and held online meetings to talk over the concepts, we shared work, discussed design ideas and quickly our isolation had a creative purpose. We are excited to share our stories with you …

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS SURVEY #23

The Artists Survey project culminated in a book of 6 elements:

  • An introduction booklet
  • 2 works from Solange Baques (1) An image from her ‘Through the window project, and (2) a small piece of Finnish soap enclosed in a stitched holder accompanied by messages about anti COVID-19 hand washing techniques.
  • An original Polaroid image made by Julie Barratt in a stitched folder made at the residency with red thread used by Julie in some of her performance work.
  • A collaborative concertina book by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart.
  • All the elements are enclosed in a special folder cover designed and handmade by Doug Spowart with the support of Victoria Cooper

 

Size of the book: 15 x 10.5 x 2cm
Media: Various art papers, inkjet on photo paper, a Polaroid photograph, a soap shard, a plastic enclosure, various threads and cords
Design and printing: Doug Spowart of cover, intro booklet and other elements
Fabrication: The artists
Edition: 40
Published by: The Centre for Regional Arts Practice
PRICE: $100 + $25 Delivery in Australia (p&p)
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COVER Open with INTRO Booklet

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A PDF COPY OF THE INTRO BOOKLET CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE: ARTIST Survey 23 INTRO Book Aug 21

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The video link is:
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SOLANGE BAQUES: is an Argentinean photographer born in Buenos Aires city. In her work she explores identities through memories and family albums. Her images are intimate and subtle.

Solange Baques and her two works

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Solange arrived in Finland on March 2nd to participate in the program “Silence Awareness Existence” as an artist in residency with 13 fellow artists at the Arteles Creative Center, which is located in a rural area near Tampere. Her project was to include visiting Valmet Oy plant and doing some research on the pulp and paper industry but due to the lockdown, this was not possible.

Within a short time of the growing worldwide shutdown of entry to countries 10 of the 13 artists in residency left Finland to return to their home countries. However by March 16 three remained.

Through the Window images included in this collaborative artists’ book was born as a part of the self-isolation program at Arteles Creative Center.

Solange was not able to return home due to the Argentine borders being closed and the only planes allowed to bring back Argentineans being those of Aerolíneas Argentinas. Around the world there were more than 20,000 citizens trying to get home with only 400 people allowed to arrive every day. On May 9th she was finally able to leave Finland and made it back to Argentina on May 11 and out of quarantine to her family on May 25!

 

 

JULIE BARRATT: is an Australian visual artist and arts producer whose mixed media practice encompasses printmaking, photography, artist books, installation and performance.

Julie Barratt and her Polaroid print + folder

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Julie arrived at the Arteles Creative Center in the beginning of March for a 1-month residency. As the worldwide lockdowns were initiated she experienced difficulty in getting flights back to Australia and her residency became an extended period of creative production.

Having this extra period of time in rural Finland has kept Julie just about as far from the grips of Covid-19 as you can imagine. And being distant from family and friends having little access to the Internet or the outside world for that matter was quite surreal!

Although she arrived without a clear project in mind Julie’s work became a visual diary of this period of isolation rendered through the mediums of photography, stitching, mixed media and hand stamping. This work in this collaborative artists’ book made with unique state Polaroid photographs relates to her experience of spending the Covid-19 period of isolation far from home in rural Finland!

By the 4th May she was still there! Cancelled flights, border closures and local transport collapses meant that options for getting home are all but non-existent. Finally Julie was able to get a direct flight from Helsinki to Sydney on May 10. On her arrival in Sydney she was escorted by Federal Police and Army personnel to 2 weeks forced isolation in a Melbourne hotel. She arrived home in Rockhampton on May 24!

 

COOPER+SPOWART

Cooper+Spowart collaborative book

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VICTORIA COOPER:

Victoria’s early career in science and microbiology is influential in much of her arts practice. Engaged in experimental photographic processes from pinhole to digital photomontage, she creates visual narratives, in the physical form of the book, exploring the human-non-human relationships of Place.

I began with energy for our collaboration across the ISO CO-void… This seemed a good time to explore new work informed by my past experience with pathogenic microorganisms. But I was unsettled in this COVID space — challenged by the consequences of being in familiar places that now were significantly altered by unseen entities. Continuity of creative thought was becoming increasingly more difficult under the existential struggle as sharp highs and lows destabilized every aspect of daily life.

During this time I utilised the social space of Instagram to break away from the silence of isolation. I captured and collected moments as they presented themselves and then instantly shared their potential to evoke memories and dreams with others. Over the next few weeks, my Instagram archive of isolated and unconnected fragments grew into a poetic narrative.

In this collaborative book with Doug there is no intended theme, our Instagram images present the fractured moments of our shifting altered reality.

 

DOUG SPOWART: is an Australian visual artist with a multi-media practice.

About 5 years ago Victoria Cooper and I sold our home in Toowoomba and headed out onto the road in search of a new place to live, work opportunities and to connect with friends and our extensive professional networks.

In early March we were on the beach in northern NSW and were planning our next foray into the real estate scene in Victoria. We were just about to head south when we recognised that the expanding threat of Covid-19 was something that could not be taken lightly.

Considering our options we decided to head back to the familiar location of Toowoomba. Our doctor is there, we have family there and importantly we have storage sheds with our art, library and personal effects. We saw isolation as presenting an opportunity to review and downsize our stored possessions.

Within a week we were back in Toowoomba and had viewed possible rental units, made a selection and had paid the first rental instalment.

My contribution to this project is a collaborative concertina book made with Victoria which features photographs made our first isolation period – it is entitled Fractured moments and small glimpses.

 

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OTHER STORIES ABOUT C.R.A.P. ARTISTS SURVEYS can be found at the links below:

Artists Survey Flash Mob Grafton

https://wotwedid.com/2013/09/23/artists-book-flash-mob-create-collaborative-artists-survey-book/

 

Artists Survey #19

https://wotwedid.com/2018/08/09/a-book-a-collaboration-time-19-artist-survey-book/

 

 

 

A BOOK, A COLLABORATION & TIME – #19 Artist Survey Book

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#19 Artists Survey Book

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The story of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice’s #19 Artist Survey Book

Between December 2013 until April 2015 Elysha Rei was working on a Masters of Business Administration project to develop an artist in residence program at Sam Rit in rural north-eastern Thailand. We had known Elysha for some time as an artist and director of Made Creative Space in Toowoomba. The Sam Rit project meant that she and son Kairo moved to Thailand for over 2 years and we followed Elysha’s activities on Facebook with interest on how her project was progressing.

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In August 2014 Elysha made a Facebook post in which the comments made seemed to indicate she was missing Toowoomba and her friends. We got in contact and suggested that we collaborate on a mail art project – something that connected her experiences in regional Thailand with the familiar space of Toowoomba, Queensland Australia.

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FB-Message 14 August 2014

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Elysha said “That would be amazing count me in!” And the project was underway…

Ideas were exchanged and the project began with making photographs of our different everyday surroundings and the thought that they would be presented as comparative pairs.

Since 2007 we had made little Artists Survey books as part of our activities in the entity we founded – Centre for Regional Arts Practice (acronym C.R.A.P.). So the project that we were undertaking would be published as edition #19.  A story on earlier C.R.A.P. editions and an event celebrating the Artist Surveys can be found HERE.

. Artists Flash Mob

2015

When Elysha returned briefly to Brisbane in January 2015 we worked through the progress to date in a meeting room at the State Library of Queensland. Images were ‘paired’ and other images, yet to be taken, were identified as well as other project discussions around other project details.

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Elysha, Victoria and Doug in a planning meeting January 2016

Discussing photographs January 2016

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2016-7

Our lives became busy with work and travel so continuing work the #19 Artist Survey book lapsed although a design was developed by Elysha for the extended cover of the book. Elysha also coordinated the Thai translations for the text. And Vicky and Doug developed the design of the book. Occasional connections were made to keep the project alive but at no time was there any thought that it would not reach its conclusion.

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World map cover illustration

World map cover (in development)

Colophon texts with Thai translation

 

2018

Not daunted by huge issues at the beginning of the year Elysha connected with us to finalise the project. Final text and colour corrections were made to the InDesign document and the file was sent off to MomentoPro in Sydney for the pages to be printed. The cover was printed separately in Brisbane by us.

On the 28th of July we met again in a meeting room at the State Library of Queensland to collate, fold, sew and sign the 30 copies of the book.

Making the 30 copies of the #19 Artist Survey book

#19 Artist Survey Book – The Thai/Toowoomba exchange

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Elysha, Victoria and Doug with the finished #19 Artist Survey book

 

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Some pages from the #19 Artist Survey book

Breakfast – Toowoomba/Thai exchange

Into the studio – Toowoomba/Thai exchange

View from my studio window – Toowoomba/Thai exchange

Local art gallery – Toowoomba/Thai exchange

Where I sleep – Toowoomba/Thai exchange

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A limited number of the books are available for purchase for $25+pack&post – contact us if you would like to order a copy.

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

August 9, 2018 at 10:39 pm

ARTISTS BOOK FLASH MOB create collaborative Artists Survey Book

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Artist Book Flash Mob and the Artists Survey Book @ Grafton Regional Gallery

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Artists Survey #15

Artists Survey #15

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During our Artist in Residence at the Grafton Regional Gallery we chose to conduct a Centre for Regional Arts Practice event that would culminate in a collaborative Artist Survey chapbook. The 15th edition of the Artists Survey comments on the idea that regional artists engaging travel as a necessary part of their arts practice. The book is entitled NOMAD: Journeying for art.

Whether it is for residencies, such as we are currently undertaking, or to attend conferences, seminars and workshops – or – just to encounter something new to inform one’s life or feelings for place, all artists travel. This theme was to be embraced by each of the participating artists. Three of the ‘Artists Book Flash Mob’ came from Brisbane, Lismore and Alstonville and were joined by 5 local Grafton artists for the two-day event. The contributing artists were: Julie Barratt, Cher Breeze, Darren Bryant, Helen Cole, Victoria Cooper, Jo Kambourian, Louise Kirby, Evey Miller, Cass Samms, Hayley Skeggs and Doug Spowart.

Each artist brought objects and materials that were then transformed by their approach to the theme through of their chosen medium. Art making techniques included stamping, collage, digital montage, altered pages, painting, photomontage, photocopy art, images of glass etching, stitching, sewing and paper sculpture. Many ideas were resolved through collaboration with fellow artists during the event.

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Artists Survey #15  NOMAD:Journeying for Art

Artists Survey #15 NOMAD:Journeying for Art

Two pages from inside the book – Artists Survey #15  NOMAD: Journeying for Art

Two pages from inside the book – Artists Survey #15 NOMAD: Journeying for Art

Two pages from inside the book – Artists Survey #15  NOMAD: Journeying for Art

Two pages from inside the book – Artists Survey #15 NOMAD: Journeying for Art

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The workspace – must be lunchtime @ the cafe

The workspace – must be lunchtime @ the cafe!

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Frenetic times of activity were interspersed with conversation, a sunset soiree, Thai dinner and coffee and cakes from the gallery’s café. At noon on the second day so much still needed to be completed. Each artist concentrated on their own multiple artworks – requiring 60 individual pieces. By mid afternoon, as each artist’s work was near completion, attention could be turned toward the collaborative outcome: cutting, printing and folding covers, collating of the pages, and beginning the process of sewing the finishing 3 hole pamphlet stitch.

At end of the weekend all that was left to do was the binding of the books and each artist has taken their five copies to finish in personal time. We all departed with a renewed energy enriched by the experience and enjoyment of artmaking along with the exchange of ideas and knowledge that was shared in the intimate space of the studio. Further copies of the NOMAD: Journeying for art will be passed on to significant artists book collections around the country.

We thank the participating artists for their participation and contribution to another C.R.A.P. (Centre for Regional Arts Practice) event.

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The artist team

The artist book flash mob

Helen at work

Helen at work

Hayley at work

Hayley at work

Louise at work

Louise at work

Jo at work

Jo at work

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© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. The copyright in individual artworks resides with the artists.

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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THE RANGE: Comments about the C.R.A.P. event

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The RANGE Festival Director Ashley Bunter and Arts Council Toowoomba President Jennifer Wright (Summers) comment on the Centre for Regional Arts Practice event at the GRID. SEE earlier post on the event HERE.

Jennifer Wright (Summers) and Ashleigh Bunter

FROM ASHLEIGH BUNTER: The event was a novel, performative/responsive format that drew together a diverse range of respected panelists of varied opinions. It was wonderful to see the room full of many esteemed artists, educators, writers and the general public. Through the provocations read from several issues of Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper’s (The Centre for Regional Arts Practice) series of artists books the panelists and audience mused what it is to be a regional artist and ultimately whether where one lives affects ones arts practice.
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It is lovely thing, perhaps semi-unique to regional centres, that young and old, creatives, bureaucrats and the general public from all walks can sit together and sustain formal, thought provoking discussion.
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I loved listening to Jennifer Wright (Summers) link her book ‘The Regional Artist and Mining’ to the work of Glenn Albrecht who I heard speak recently at the Regional Arts Australian National Conference about the ways that environmental concerns impact people mentally. He provided a language to describe the phenomena which Jennifer shared and employed.
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The audience and panelists will now pose new questions for ‘The Regional Artist and The Artist Run Space.’
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After all the discussion, I left feeling positive that I feel such a strong connection to my hometown and the engaged people around me but also that with the freedom afforded by travel and the internet, we are all more than just where we live.
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Thanks Ashleigh.
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A COMMENT FROM JENNIFER WRIGHT (SUMMERS): A belated response to Jack’s statement that since so many people have lost jobs in manufacturing in Toowoomba, mining offers the best option for employment of these people.
Mining jobs are temporary and have negative impacts with binge drinking, lack of affordable housing for any nearby community.Why can’t we continue to make Toowoomba a centre of creativity, art and culture? Arts Council Toowoomba’s mission statement has always been to create a vibrant and creative centre for the arts.
At the Regional Arts Australia Conference in Golwa Federal Minister Simon Crean detailed how collaborative creative projects and partnerships had renewed regional cities including Newcastle and Townsville.Mark Robinson from Arts Council UK talked about making adaptive resilience real. When industries declined, regional UK communities remained creatively productive and adapted with integrity to changing circumstances with lasting benefit for the community.
The Edinburgh Festival, now 21 years old is part of Edinburgh’s strength and creates formal and informal social capital and feeds the community.

Transformations have started here and I hope we can ride the momentum of the RANGE festival. Festivals become part of the environment, attracting the touring dollar.
We can support a growing ecology and develop critical discussion in the region if we stick together, continue to adapt, gain confidence but not wreck the community,
if we remain open, dynamic and creative we position ourselves behind a creative industry that has longevity stands to benefit the community in a long term sustainable way.

Jennifer Wright (Summers)

Thanks Jennifer
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THE RANGE: Centre for Regional Arts Practice Event

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ARE YOU A REGIONAL ARTIST?

Jennifer Wright (Summers) makes a point at the Centre for Regional Arts Practice event

The Centre for Regional Arts Practice (C.R.A.P.) event, ‘Are you a regional artist?’ was part of the 2012 RANGE festival of art and culture program. Attended by around thirty people from around the Toowoomba region the event took place at The GRID Creative Space. The stimulus for the event and its question is the series of artist survey books produced by C.R.A.P. founders Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. Topics covered by the books deal with the issues and the experiences that Cooper and Spowart have encountered over many years as regional artists. Surveys have included the following titles:

#1            How do you know you are a regional artist?

#2            How do you now you operate a regional arts business?

#3            The inland regional artist & the beach

#4            The regional artist & climate change

#5            The regional artist & the global financial crisis

#6            Swine flu & the regional artist

#7            Air travel & the regional artist

#8            Flooding in your studio

#9           Summer lethargy

#10         The New Zealand regional artist

#11          Vote 1: Campaign for Regional Artists for Government Election (Democracy)

#12          Checklist of the signs that extractive mining has taken over your regional community.

7 of the 12 Artist Survey books published by the Centre for Regional Arts Practice

Six local artists accepted the invitation to participate in the event by selecting an artist survey book that related to their experiences and interests. They were asked to select passages from the books and to present and discuss these passages. The artists were: Jack Atley, Fancy Darling, John Elliott, Elysha Gould, Sue Lostroh and Jennifer Wright (Summers) [Their Bios are included at the end of this post].  The panel members represent a diversity of practice  which is both grounded by necessity but also enjoying the freedom to be at the creative edge. Toowoomba’s art community is evolving and seemingly drawing strength from a fertile montage of place-minded inclusivity along with strident  individualism. This motivated group of young and established artists are moving with the changing landscape of the regional arts practice, while also operating within a national and global perspective.

At the Centre for Regional Arts Practice event @ The Grid in Toowoomba

The Artist Survey books acted as catalyst and provocateurs for discussion and commentary where each panellist presented a particular slant on their selected subject. What followed was an organic and freeform forum with a range of questions being discussed and challenged. The main theme—the identity crisis of regional artist—was at the centre; the responses made the issues relevant, while evoking alternative considerations.

After each panellist’s segment the audience was asked if the ‘agreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the proposition put by each Artists Survey Book. Some topics, such as ‘Do you need a week at the beach’, ‘How do you know if you operate a regional business’ and ‘The signs that mining has taken over your community’ resulted in a majority support. Other books, including ‘Would you agree that regional artists should form their own political party’ and ‘The regional artist and the GFC’, drew out other interesting issues and challenges from the panel and attendees beyond just the questions posed in the books. In some cases the outcome of the discussion recognised that all artists, from both regions and city, connect with the same issues. Perhaps all artists are regional?

Sue Lostroh asks ‘Do regional artists need a week at the beach?’

From the panellist’s responses it became evident that regional artists are passionate people with opinions and ideas about their practice and the opportunities and challenges of regional life. The feedback coming from some of the informal discussions at the end of the night suggested there could be future events of this nature in the form of a forum.

From our perspective this event brought not just consensus, but importantly new perspectives on, and challenges to, what it means to be a regional artist living and working on The RANGE.

Finally, attendees were invited to contribute comments to the forthcoming Artists Survey Book ‘The regional artist and the artists run initiative’. This edition of the C.R.A.P. Artist Survey book is intended to celebrate the role of the ARI in the Toowoomba region—the main theme of The RANGE festival.

Until next time …

C.R.A.P. event attendees chatting after the activity

PANELIST’S BIOS

Elysha Gould is a visual artist and Co-Director and founder of the artist-run initiative, made.Creative Space Toowoomba, and is the current Supervisor of Dogwood Crossing arts and cultural facility in Miles, Queensland. Living as an expatriate during the formative years of her childhood and having a mixed Australian-Japanese heritage, Elysha’s work incorporates paper cutting, drawing and installation that explore ideas of cross-cultural representations, contrasting contexts in the imagery and materials she uses.

Sue Lostroh was born in Sydney half a century ago, now living and working in Toowoomba, Sue has various tertiary qualifications the latest being a Master of Philosophy. However her study now happens on her travels to various destinations including Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and France so far. Sue trained as a printmaker but turned into an installation artist who has held a handful of solo exhibitions, her favourite was at the National Sculpture Forum in Canberra: Adopt my language say your farewells. She has participated in over 35 group shows in a variety of locations including Singapore, Brisbane and Toowoomba and she has a wide and varied arts experience curating about 80 exhibitions since 1987, she was an associate lecturer in visual arts and has supervised various research projects for students undertaking professional development. Sue is associated with the production, editing or authoring of over 30 exhibition catalogues, 4 CDs and a considerable number of education kits, didactics and exhibition support material. Sue currently coordinates the education programmes at TRAG

John Elliott is a writer/photographer based in Toowoomba and works all over Australia. He has 14 books to his credit, had his own exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and 25 works are in the NPG Collection. John’s work centres around his love of the bush and interest in people’s stories.

Jennifer Wright (Summers) is President at Arts Council Toowoomba and advocate for the establishment of Toowoomba Regional Council’s Public Art Policy. She enjoys building respectful relationships between councillors, businesses, artists and local community members. Jennifer was chosen to win the 2012 Regional Arts Australia award because she has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the Arts in her community, her commitment to creating opportunity for regional artists and tireless volunteering work.

Fancy Darling is an artist and musician.  Painting and drawing the erotic, classically trained pianist singer songwriter and cabaret performer, currently a resident artist at the grid.

Jack Atley: punk rock warlord.

Ashley Bunter, John Elliott and Alison Mooney

Jack Atley, Fancy Darling and Doug Spowart

INVITATION: Are you a regional artist? A Centre for Regional Arts Practice event @ THE RANGE FESTIVAL

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Centre for Regional Arts Practice event

Written by Cooper+Spowart

November 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

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