Organic rice grows Leeton Memories

The next installment of Red Earth Ecology's Leeton Memories project is in the windows of the Leeton Community Op Shop this month

The display developed by local artist Jason Richardson reflects part of this interview undertaken with longtime residents.

In the accompanying audio Peter and Jenny Randall discuss their organic rice business with Kath Tenison, while the display discusses the effectiveness of this approach to farming.

"Biodiversity has been a significant environmental consideration in recent decades," says Mr Richardson, featured artist and project coordinator.

"However, I suspect it's one of those buzzwords that might not mean much to many people and the Randall's have beaut examples that demonstrate how it can contribute to our lives."

In the interview Peter outlines how the diversity of organisms in his rice fields assist with the growth of crops, while acknowledging the health risks that chemical inputs pose to farmers and our Riverina generally.

"Mr Randall has seen the impacts that poisons have had on farmers and I think his observations offer an important lesson, as many land managers are currently struggling with the concerns about glycophosphates for example."

The display designed by Jason illustrates how an 'environmentally-friendlier' rice crop can promote biodiversity, showing impacts such as microscopic organisms through to waterbirds like the Australiasian Bittern -- which has become a focus of conservation efforts.

"One of the themes being explored in this project is environmental change and the interviews reflect observations from local people in their own lifetimes," said Mr Richardson.

"This project developed from conversations we've had and a desire to help people understand their environment, in part because it's curious to see discussions like these often fail to acknowledge people are part of the landscape."

Text-based contributions have come from the Leeton Writers Collective, following a listening event to hear memories from the project.

Jo Roberts incorporated a poem written in response to Joe Errey's story about the packed trains arriving outside town during the Depression.

"It's great to share one of the poems from Sarah Tiffen's last book alongside the Randall installation," said Jason Richardson. "I admire her writing and like how that piece explores connections with places."

"Riverina,Writing House and Leeton Writers Collective have been so pleased to be part of this project," wrote Ms Tiffen.

"Telling stories in different ways is essential to belonging and identity. Red Earth Ecology's ethos of environment, place and honouring of our place within Nature is an important part of our community story."

The Leeton Memories display concludes a busy month of projects for Jason Richardson, including the launch of The Penny Effect video at LMAG, winning "Champion Exhibit" in the annual Art Society exhibiton and a program of events at Burning Seed in Matong State Forest.

"Red Earth Ecology held a series of talks and workshops on the applications for funghi at Seed this year, and I also installed over 100 wind organs as part of a display to raise-awareness about organ donation."

Those wind organs will next be seen as part of an open studio event organised by the Leeton Art Society and Narrandera's arts and craft network that Jason Richardson is joining during May.

Visit Leeton Community Op Shop to see the Leeton Memories displays and hear the interviews.

Leeton Memories is supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government. 

Paper planes

One of my initiatives at the museum has been flying paper planes

Groups of children can display a full range of emotions in these situations.


Action Day

One of the best things about working at the Museum is the people

There are so many passionate individuals who have contributed to the Park. You can scarcely look around without noticing a human touch, from the wear and tear to the gardens and plaques.

Many of the people who visit have their own connections or remember family members who were involved. This is what makes Action Day so special, as there are volunteers who appear and suddenly an old engine is running.

On Good Friday I observed one of those moments.

It was nearly time for the gates to open and a car was loitering near the Tractor Shed. I checked they knew and was told by the driver that he'd park at the top again.

Then a woman indicated an older man in the front seat and told me they had brought him to see the T-20 tractor. I don't know much about tractors but the T-20 is distinctive for its caterpillar tracks and I know the Museum has three of them.

Continuing to talk about the older man, she said something like "we haven't seen him smile for months and thought he'd like to see the tractor he restored."

A little later I was standing near the Machinery Shed and saw the T-20 rattling down the road.

I recognised the opportunity and started filming the tractor roll past, then panned toward the older man as he sat in his wheelchair. It wasn't clear if he was smiling, so I walked forward.

"How does the engine sound?" I asked.

His voice was a mumble among the engines that were running, but he seemed pleased.

By now the bloke who'd been driving both the car earlier and now the T-20 had parked the tractor and walked over. He explained the older man was born in 1935, the same year the tractor was released.

Life drawing class

Joined a life drawing class led by Anthea da Silva yesterday

It's always interesting to hear from established artists how they approach the simple act of drawing a model.

Anthea's guidance often aimed to unsettle established practices and prompted me to reflect on how art benefits from creating possibility, rather than settling into a rut.

One of the exercises involved drawing with both hand simultaneously, which is challenging as one can't look at two places as well.

However, while the result isn't something I want to share here, it was surprising to me.

I could see a different artist in my work and an entirely new style that was waiting to be explored.

As the class progressed I got bored with drawing the back of the model and started sketching my classmates, while recognising that I seem to work best with the short-timing of earlier sittings.

Champion Exhibit: Summer Equinox

I won a prize at the 2023 Leeton Art Society exhibition

This photograph of a culturally-scarred tree I called 'Summer Equinox' as the theme for the acquisitive award was seasonal and late summer is when trees will give up their bark.

The printing onto pine was an opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of pine plantations in the Murrumbidgee Valley, since critics have said these take 110% of rainfall as they'll draw groundwater from neighbouring properties.

My entry was declared "Champion Exhibit" and it's led to my family calling me "champ"!

Penny Paniz

Penny Paniz made art by many names and was central to the creation of the Leeton Art Society and Western Riverina Arts.

A couple of years ago I was commissioned to produce this portrait of her to accompany the exhibition held annually in Penny's name.

After delays it's now a permanent feature at the Leeton Museum and Gallery.