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ANIMATING SPACES: Toowoomba Projects Announced

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Animating Spaces is a state-wide multi-arts initiative, which is intended to revitalise and celebrate significant or unusual spaces within regional communities through locally-driven arts activities and events. Animating Spaces is funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Queensland, Regional Arts Australia and participating local councils. The initiation and coordination of the Animating Spaces in Queensland will be supported by Artslink over the next three years and will assist 15 regional Queensland communities and their local projects.


Toowoomba Celebrates Animating Spaces Celebration

After the invited guests and artists had time to mingle and participate in refreshments provided Community Coordinators Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould addressed the meeting. The following is from Elysha and Alex’s speech.

Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould

Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould


I firstly like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which we are gathered, and acknowledge any elders past and present. Formal welcome to Cr. Billl Cahill and Cr. Geoff McDonald, Artslink Queensland Regional Arts Development Officer Kerryanne Farrer, Curator of Art Galleries Toowoomba Regional Council Di Baker, and Animating Spaces Project Coordinators Andrew MacDonald, Tarn McLean and Ian McCallum and the artists involved in each project.

Tonight we celebrate the beginning of Animating Spaces in Toowoomba. We will start with an introduction from Kerryanne from Artslink Qld, then Cr Geoff McDonald will speak on behalf of Toowoomba RC, and then I will briefly introduce the Project Coordinators who will talk more about their projects.

So to introduce you to Animating Spaces please welcome Artslink Queensland Regional Arts Development Officer Kerryanne Farrer. [Kerryanne spoke of the Artslink connection with the Animating Spaces Project – SEE video for details]



Kerryanne Farrer addresses the assembled group


Now welcome Cr. Geoff McDonald from TRC. [Geoff spoke of the Toowoomba Regional Council’s support for Animating Spaces and the important role of art and artists in the community]

Cr Geoff McDonald speaks

Cr Geoff McDonald speaks


I am so pleased to be participating alongside my Co-Director of made.Creative Space – Alex Stalling as the Community Coordinators for Animating Spaces Toowoomba.
Animating Spaces represents an opportunity to identify, embrace and celebrate the some of the city’s unexpected places through the collaboration and creativity of some of this region’s best artists.
It provides a chance for everyone in the community to contribute to the cultural fabric of Toowoomba and inspire a sustainable creative culture.

Toowoomba is home to a passionate and close knit arts community. Through Animating Spaces, Artslink Queensland, have given this community the chance to establish and strengthen the needed skills to develop and coordinate projects like this, and nurture the potential for future projects. These are projects that can further promote the value and participation of the arts, which in turn contribute to the resilience and identity of our community.
We encourage everyone here to it to get involved. Whether you are an artist, or an arts lover, this project’s success relies on the generosity of financial and in-kind sponsors and volunteers.  A sign up sheet is available to record your details on the front desk.

There are three amazing public art projects which are Animating Spaces in late August. It is my pleasure to introduce the three project coordinators who are also artists in their own right.


Andrew MacDonald speaks

Andrew MacDonald
Andrew is a technician and sculptor with 20 years experience in the industry.  With a passion for recycling, Andrews practice has seen him through an amazing list of career success.  Working at USQ, Andrew was the visual arts studio manager and then later production manager working on productions such as the renowned Shakespeare in the Park.  He featured as an artist in residence at the 2010 Crush Festival in Bundaberg, and has been involved as an artist in the Woodford Folk Festival, Hampton Food and Wine and numerous other festivals.
He has public artwork in Brisbane’s West End, and I’m sure you’ve all seen his striking work cloud trees just down the road on Margaret Street. He is now working as the factory Manager at Cobb and Co Museum.

Andrew’s project is entitled Up the Creek and will feature the use of pest timbers (such as Chinese Elm, Camphor Laurel and Privet) which will be removed from Toowoomba’s waterways and made available as materials in timber whittling workshops in a public space. Participants work together to create large ephemeral sculptures from the timbers sourced. The artist-designed sculptures will then be displayed back along highly visible waterways.

Local artists Christian Low and Jesse Wright will be involved with the project.



Tarn McLean speaks

Tarn McLean
Tarn has 5 years experience as a painter who also bridges into design and video installation.  She launched her successful accessories and textiles label ochre designs in 2009, which services international clientele and is also located just down the road upstairs at 249 Margaret Street. As well as being a star mum and devoted wife, Tarn is Co-Director of the artist run gallery Raygun Labs which continues to connect Toowoomba with international arts communities.
She is currently working in collaboration with an architectural design company in Melbourne and has just started her PhD in painting with a cross over into design and architecture.

Tarn’s project is entitled Real Time Your Time and will animate the Toowoomba CBD.

Real Time Your Time will create a public, interactive video projection in the main street of the CBD illuminated at night. Described as a very different experience for people, encouraging them to play and interact with the installation. Free movement and painting workshops will encourage maximum involvement of people.

Participating in the Tarn’s project will be Beata Batorowicz, Ric Carlsson and Aidan Ryan.



Ian McCallum speaks

Ian McCallum
Ian is a sign writer by trade and a local street art advocate and artist. He is currently completing his Bachelor of Creative Arts at USQ, and also runs his business Kontraband right here at the GRID. Ian has worked alongside internationally renowned street artists at the 2012 crush festival in Bundaberg.  You can also see his work right here in Toowoomba’s CBD through his commission with Cracker Print and Press at Club Lane on Ruthven street, Ground Up alley’s Seales walkway just across the street, and the former Sojo’s collections on Margaret Street.

Ian’s project will centre on Serls Laneway including the wall of TheGrid in Chandler Laneway. Entitled Story Wall it will feature a large-scale, comic-book-like urban artwork drawn up by three graffiti artists from around Australia that depicts local children’s stories and drawings of our town. This project includes workshops for children and opportunities for all ages of the community to learn new skills.



VIMEO_Animating Spaces

ARTSLINK QUEENSLAND FAQs  http://artslinkqld.com.au/animatingspaces/faq

TOOWOOMBA REGIONAL COUNCIL http://www.toowoombarc.qld.gov.au/about-council/newspublications/8529-funding-for-toowoomba-arts-project-announced


In the Beginning…

Where the planning for the Animating Spaces project began at a community meeting at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery on May 24, 2012.

Animating Spaces workshop @ TRAG May 24, 2012

Animating Spaces workshop @ TRAG May 24, 2012


All  photographs  © Doug Spowart 2013.

Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

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


THE RANGE: Centre for Regional Arts Practice Event

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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


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

THE RANGE Arts and Culture Festival: The LAUNCH

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Last night, with much fanfare, social camaraderie and prominence, the Toowoomba art scene came alive with the launch of THE RANGE Arts and Culture Festival. The idea of a nine-day art event was masterminded by Ashleigh Bunter and was generously supported by Federal and State Government grants[1]. This activity promises to give a boost to the local arts community and will also serve as a celebration of the significant artist run initiative (ARI) scene in Toowoomba.

Attendees @ The RANGE Launch Photo: Doug Spowart

Attending the event at the Empire ‘Church’ were the glitterati of the local scene including two councilors (maybe more), the local newspaper art scene critic, gallery people, university art faculty members, art collectors, a couple of TAFE art teachers, art society members and representatives of the local arts council. Added to this group were numerous artists, performers, musicians, film-makers, creatives, art buyers and last but not least, members of the art interested public. SEE: The Chronicle Newspaper photos HERE.

Presented on one wall of the function room was a selectively curated group of artworks from what was described as  the ‘Darlings of the Darling Downs’ art scene. This display included works by Damian Kamholtz, Stephen Spurrier and Danish Quapoor and were presented for the appreciation by attendees, and later in the evening, these works were auctioned providing an unusual addition to the formal proceedings.

The crowd excitedly engaged in conversation and were revved up by Councilor Geoff McDonald who acted as master of ceremonies for the evening. The chant ‘The—RANGE’, ‘The—RANGE’, ‘The—RANGE’ made an auspicious start to the proceedings and was followed an introduction to the directors and gallerists of the ARIs featured in the program—Alison Mooney—Mars + The Grid, Sally Johnson—Blockwork, Alexandra Lawson and Tarn McLea—Raygun and Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould—made. Creative Space.

Introducing the ARIs Phtoto Doug Spowart

An address by USQ’s Head of the Creative Arts School, Associate Professor Janet McDonald commented on the ARIs and their importance within our community as providing a space other than the traditional gallery institution. These initiatives allow emerging artists and curators, including many USQ students and graduates, to operate in the public space presenting work and building their experience and professional practice.

A second speaker, Charlie Cush, Senior Advisor Arts Culture, Local Government Association of Queensland, spoke excitedly when he expressed that he was ‘blown away by the grass roots arts movement in Toowoomba’. He stated ‘that many arts communities around the country are looking towards what is being achieved here as a model for the how an ARI can foster emerging artists and contribute to the vitality of a region’.

The audience was then treated to the spectacle of works from the ‘Darlings’ being auctioned off by a professional auctioneer—bids were slow however the activity highlighted one approach to the many ways in which art is presented for appreciation and acquisition.

From my point of view the concept of ARIs has been around for a long time. My experience in this gallery practice goes back to the 1980s when I was co-director of Imagery Gallery in Brisbane. At the time artist-run-spaces as they were called then, provided a platform for artists outside of the commercial scene to present their wild ideas and art. They were experimental art spaces, often overtly non-commercial and supported by an ‘in-crowd’ associated with the artist’s demographic, their training institution and the social networking possibilities that the gallery opening provided.

The RANGE ARI’s, through the umbrella created by this Bunter Project, now emerge, not as isolated special interest groups, but rather as a powerful support mechanism for the advancement of all aspects of art from inspiration, creation, presentation, appreciation, criticism, merchandising and possession. Perhaps, for a regional arts community this event marks a new era of respect and opportunity for art. This attitude is desperately needed in our current political and economic climate which is seemingly ambivalent to the presence and the value of art and its important role in the community and life.

As we left the launch party a lone smoker was outside watching the last of the featured local films projected on the open air theatre set up for the night—I’m sure she was contemplating the meaningfulness of this moment for the arts in Toowoomba …or just enjoying the warm night air, the open air theatre and a smoke.

Watching a movie in the open air theatre Photo: Doug Spowart

ASLO SEE the Ash Bunter interview on the CHRONICLE NEWS Website


BLOG words and images by Dr Doug Spowart in support of the RANGE Arts and Culture Festival.


1. Regional Arts Development Fund–Arts Queensland and the Toowoomba Regional Council, and the Australian Government’s Regional Art Fund in partnership with Artslink.


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This post offers a pictorial view of 6 regional art galleries of western Queensland visited during an 800 klms  journey from Toowoomba to Roma, Surat and return.

Weblinks for the galleries are included for further information.

Dalby  Gallery: Closed at the time of visit, 6 July 2012


Chinchilla White Gums Gallery: Closed at the time of visit, 6 July 2012


Dogwood Crossing, John Mullins Memorial Art Gallery: Patterns in Nature


Elysha Gould Gallery Supervisor in her office @ Dogwood Crossing


Bungil Art Gallery, Roma

Bungil Art Gallery @ Roma: 6 July 2012: Shoot Straight You Bastards exhibition


Cobb & Co Changing Station, Balonne River Art Gallery: Open 7 July 2012


Cobb & Co Changing Station, Balonne River Art Gallery: Exhibition – Debbie Weinert Quilter

Myall Park Botanic Gardens Art Gallery

Myall Park Botanic Garden: Dorothy Gordon’s botanic paintings




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Living west of the Great Dividing Range places regional artists far from the arts hubs of the capital cities where the opportunities for exhibition, audience and critical review abound. And whilst most regional artists crave the benefits of urban proximity they may be overlooking plenty of career and professional development opportunities within their own regions.

For that reason Sally Johnson, Director of Blockwork Gallery in Toowoomba,  encourages regional artists to seek opportunities within their home boundaries. To show and share her ideas of what may exist for regional artists, she has curated an exhibition called Crossing the Divide at made.Creative Space, that featured paintings by Patricia Hinz, Carol McCormack and Catherine Rose.

The exhibition opening was well attended and the made gallery directors Alex Stalling and Elysha Gould provided a commentary about the exhibitions that were to open that evening—they also announced the imminent closure of the gallery and the new ‘pop-up’ exhibition strategy that they will be introducing, as well as Elysha’s new position in Miles as a ‘manager’ (?) of the Dogwood Crossing Gallery.

Attached to the exhibition was a workshop in which the featured artists participated in a discussion led by Sally that looked at the range of exhibition venues throughout the South West region. Emerging and mid‐career Toowoomba Artists were encouraged to expand their careers by considering exhibitions at the venues mentioned.

The artists represented in the Crossing the Divide show, Pat, Carol and Catherine then discussed the nature and history of their arts practice. Each had really interesting backgrounds in art-making and exhibition with experiences that included working with Mervyn Moriarty in the early days of Flying Arts, having exhibitions in New York and being driven on outback roads with a canvas spread out across the dashboard—painting.

A lively question and answer discussion ensued that connected the ideas and experiences of the three visiting artists with those from the local scene.

Carol McCormack, Patricia Hinz and Catherine Rose

Sally announced that this project will also include a managed interactive online forum that will allow for a continued engagement process beyond the workshop. It is intended that this forum will have the potential to act as a platform by which Toowoomba and South West artists can connect more broadly.

The workshop and forum received support from the Regional Arts Development Fund—a Queensland Government and Toowoomba Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture.

For more information on the exhibition and the online forum contact, sally@blockwork.com.au or 0418 227 784.

Words: Doug

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