Of course, by choosing to explore ‘creativity in our region’ in this edition of Gippslandia we've been inundated with fresh ideas on how Gippsland can further develop and enhance its creative scene. Our contributors are some of the most innovative and freethinking folk out there (we love them for it!), and so nearly every piece presented in this issue provides several cracking concepts or improvements to boost creativity in our area. After a fine bottle of red and some quality chin-stroking, we’ve developed the following collection of nine concepts to help turn our area into an artistic powerhouse. No matter your preferred creative medium, we hope there’s an idea here that you may be able to draw inspiration from and assist in making Gippsland a masterpiece.
It’s a solid stretch of highway between Melbourne and the far reaches of Gippsland. As we were slowed through the current road works happening between Yarragon and Moe we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a series of large-scale sculptural pieces down the median strip?’. Let’s turn some barren stretches of highway into positive talking points – think of the effect the giant pheasant at Gumbuya Park or the Spud Shed has on kids.
Could we unify a local council and business community to really invest in street art? Moving beyond covering a random wall or laneway with street art for the sake of it, but instead inviting respected artists to develop a high-quality visual dialogue between the space and the community. Graff heads will travel to view notable artists and the tourist visitation of Hosier Lane, Melbourne, highlights the public’s interest. Sale artist, Jeremy Kasper’s ‘Reclaim Our Lanes’ project is one to keep an eye on.
We’ve commented on the positive flow-on effects of Gippsland’s growing coffee culture, but what if more cafés and restaurants presented a more curated collection of artworks on their walls? This very simple shift provides further opportunities for exposure for our growing artistic community. The accompanying ‘opening nights’ for these collections would improve our nightlife offerings, promote community engagement, demonstrate support of our artists and bring like-minded people together, as well as being good for business.
Let’s get serious and offer a hefty art prize! Gippsland Art Gallery’s John Leslie Art Prize and Print Award are two fine examples that demonstrate the lure of a substantial prize purse. Could we turn up the heat, offer a few thousand dollars more and have the opportunity to attract a higher tier of artists while making the prizes acquisitive, so that the competition benefits the community for years to come? Anyone willing to sponsor the first Annual Gippslandia Acquisitive Art Award?
Promoting creativity throughout our communities requires focused integration. Would local government consider tweaking their town planning program to place further emphasis on positive cultural impact, enhanced public space or artistic endeavour? After all, substantial research highlights the positive correlation between exposure to art and livability.
Gippsland already has cool community and Internet radio stations, check out 104.7FM and the Shack, respectively. They form an awesome medium as they’re, “…operated by the community, for the community about the community and by the community”. With some increased support, these stations could further promote local musicians and artists to boost the growth of our music and creative scene.
For a long time now there’s been chatter about a large-scale Gippsland festival, a celebration that can represent the whole region. Could we have a unique and inclusive Gippslandia Festival that’s supported by our region’s councils with a different council hosting the festival each year? Or perhaps Gippsland can host a regional leg of a major arts festival? The Melbourne Festival or International Jazz Festival spring to mind right away (imagine seeing Chick Corea in Warragul or Sonny Rollins in Sale) and you should read about the awesomeness of Spraoi International Street Arts Festival, in Ireland. Plus, we’ve got some eccentric venues, such as the Meenyin Town Hall or Seaview Mechanics Hall, ready to enhance memorable performances.
Can our young entrepreneurs gain access to unused spaces to hold events? If our youth can more easily work with local councils and business owners to revitalise neglected spaces and potentially reach agreements on the serving of food and alcohol, then who knows what can blossom. We spent time on the Gold Coast and watched an old shed morph from a place where art students held raucous exhibitions to hipster hangout to a leading contemporary art space over a couple of years.
With so many empty retail units visible on the streets across the towns in the region - could we allow practising designers, artists, makers, crafters and doers to use these windows spaces to exhibit and promote their wares? After all, a street full of ‘for lease’ boards is far less inspiring than a collection of talented people opening up their souls to the world.