May I share Eco Deco

Here's some of my work for Western Riverina Arts, where I worked to raise the profile of local artists.

This weekend is the Leeton exhibition for the Eco Deco project delivered by Western Riverina Arts through funding from Riverina Local Land Services.

Artworks by children from Parkview and Murrami public schools will be on display in the The Roxy Gallery from 11am to 2pm.

Artists Melanie Baulch and Hape Kiddle were employed to run art workshops with schools in Griffith and Leeton using locally sourced resources from natural settings.

"The Griffith exhibition at Brett Naseby Gallery was popular, with many kids bringing their parents in to share their unique works," said Derek Motion, Regional Arts Development Officer with Western Riverina Arts.

"It was fascinating to see the individual artworks, as each was an expression of the vision and skills of that child. The results were varied, from domestic items to the fantastic, as well as things you might see in the natural world."

The materials were collected in a non-destructive and were used to inspire the children as well as introduce common items in their local landscapes. "We gave them a leaping-off point, starting with a story that they had landed on an island and had to make items. It put everyone on the same page," explained artist Hape Kiddle of the workshop held at Parkview on Tuesday this week.

The results were varied, as the workshop let the children decide what they would make from the materials. "It was open-ended and wasn't prescriptive. To help get them started we talked about how people approach creative work, how some people draw or talk or feel as a way of generating ideas. How some prefer working in groups or on their own," said artist Melanie Baulch.

"There were a lot of options, it could've been crippling for the kids creatively. I think the outcome was empowering as a result, they were very proud of their work. There is no right or wrong, rating or judging, and I think that's empowering for children."

"I found it really interesting to see the different approaches taken by the kids. We had only a few parameters, so it was a very creative exercise. Sometimes open projects can throw kids but they were into it," said Mr Kiddle. "It was surprising where the ideas went."

"The process was very playful rather than being outcome-oriented. I was surprised at how much they produced. Much of it may turn up as Christmas presents, I'd guess."

Melanie Baulch said the workshop went well. "The kids couldn't wait to get started and, at the end, the children were very respectful and helped clean up."

"We’re grateful to Riverina Local Land Services for supporting this project," said Mr Motion. "It's great to be able to challenge the way people think about the environment through art. Last year our Reimagining exhibition brought varying perspectives on the Murrumbidgee from artists.

"This year we aimed to continue that conversation and were able to generate even more individual expressions from artists through these workshops."

Eco Deco artworks by Parkview and Murrami public school students will be on display in The Roxy Gallery in Leeton from 11am to 2pm on Saturday 24 October.