James Allott’s latest post from Fremantle:
Our Australian adventure is now in its fifth week and we are avidly looking forward to our 3-day Drawing Camp ‘Down South’ next week. I feel like this week will take us into the next ‘chapter’ of our story here.
The first chapter was a couple of really relaxed and laid-back weeks. Being introduced to the extensive team here at Dadaa, the huge number of clients and participants involved in their programmes and the variety of different projects currently running.
It feels like the second chapter began in week 3. We started to get stuck into the work itself, working with the Midland artists, Patrick and Tim, running our own workshops on Fridays and meeting the young artists at ARTlink. Plus we have learned how to knit and have been involved in the Yarns Community Art project. A large variety of work to really get our teeth into and feel we were learning a lot, seeing a lot of great work and practice.
Now, as we are starting to end our involvement with some workshops, it feels to me like the exchange is evolving yet again. When we return to Freo next Weds, Mary, Renae and Poppy will have arrived from the UK. Our focus will shift from the workshops to the Conference and the outcomes of this exchange. I’m looking forward to seeing Mary’s familiar face and talking out all that’s been happening on both sides of the exchange. Looking forward to meeting our Australian counterparts and getting their responses to our work back in the UK.
The next fortnight is just going to fly by. The past five weeks have gone so quickly. Right now, we’re trying to make the most of the remaining time here, and be selective in our choices. Where we want to go each day, what work we want to be involved in. What will we learn the most from and get the most out of.
Here are some highlights from the last week or so…
We visited Rottnest Island on our Monday off. It’s a quiet, almost tropical island, a short ferry ride from Freo. Everyone told us that we really should pay a visit before we run out of time. The island is beautiful and almost car free. We took our bikes rather than hire them there.
It was a bit of a hard slog, especially for me, as my relationship with my bike has been a rocky road. My reluctance and hesitation to ride it on the roads must have made it feel unloved! It has begun to dismantle itself-a fallen off pedal, a punctured tyre. Jacqui told me I need to ‘give the bike some love’- I feel a 12km ride around Rottnest in the baking sun may have overdosed it with love!
- Last Sunday was a great busy day in Freo!It was a beautiful day so naturally we started with a couple of hours on the beach, then headed into town. To promote interest and involvement in the Yarns shop, we took part in a knitting flash mob- a bit strange at first, knitting out in the precinct with everyone taking photos. But it seemed to work, loads of people took info and joined in.
- Then onto the main street, which had been closed off to hold a huge chalk drawing event. Literally hundreds of people drawing and writing all over the street. Gave us both great ideas on how we could carry out a future Big Draw project back home.
At both the flash mob and the chalk drawing, we met The Guerrilla Granny, a fantastic arts performer who has been roaming around the town as part of the Fremantle Arts Festival. She’s just one of the many ‘Fremantle characters’ we’ve seen about what is a unique, creative and fascinating town!
From the chalk drawing to the Street Parade. Carnivals and parades – our gig! Simone and Pete’s sons (more of our extensive foster family) were part of the parade with their school, loads of other community groups were part of a really enthusiastic, noisy, homemade, colourful parade.
Such a great atmosphere, shiny fish structures covered in cds, a speaker system pushed along in a bright red wheelie bin, Chinese dragons and shimmering silver seahorses. And bagpipes galore!
From the parade it was back to the Flavelle’s household for dinner. It felt comforting and protective so be welcomed into a family. Fed and watered, sitting at the large dinner table with the whole family. Laughing, joking, listening to the boys playing music, Jacquie’s dog shuffling around under the table. Sunday was one the most enjoyable days I’ve spent over here.
As part of ‘UK inspired’ workshops, we’ve been giving a little lantern workshop to Catia, the arts worker we’ve spent the most time with. It was a little strange but made me feel proud that I could pass on the lantern knowledge that we’ve learned from Mary and our work as part of Roots and Wings. Hopefully Mary will be around for the tissue paper covering. Chickenley lanterns over in WA!
Pride was in the air again on Wednesday. We’ve been working quite closely with Rachel and Catia’s printmaking and textiles group. The group, art workers, participants and support workers have all made us feel part of the group. Involved and welcome. This particular term is coming to an end so they held an exhibition for friends and family to come and see both their final outcomes and all the preliminary work leading up to the finished pieces.
I think it’s really important to show process work rather than finished work in isolation. It’s too easy for an onlooker just to see a piece of work for just the surface value-without recognition of the hard work and processes that go into creating it.
- Morning Tea with friends and family. I’m really glad we could show our faces at the opening of the exhibition- we’ve gotten to know the whole group over our time here. Strange to think were starting to say goodbye to some people we wont necessarily see over the next two weeks.
- As this chapter finishes-the next begins. Christmas trees against bright blue skies. Getting ready for a road trip. Looking forward to Mary’s arrival. Anticipating the conference and surrounding workshops.