Gippslandia #4 - Oh, For Arts Sake

Release the beast.

Do you make, move, do, dream, create, paint, sculpt, write, rub, press, watch, listen, design, illustrate, photograph or sing? Do you express creativity inwards or outwards? Is your brain constantly in a battle between the world you see and the world that could be? If you answered, “yes” to any of the above – you may be a ‘Creative Beast’.

I threw the rulebook out the door when I started TOPshelf in 2016. I became a mentor with a goal to hunt out other creatives with artistic “soul goals” and equip them with the tools to realise their goal. A ‘soul goal’ is the thing you’d do if you were faced with dying tomorrow.

When hunting, I found and encouraged my creative beasts to be in a constant state of flux. They’re completely free to be their most authentic expression of themselves. Liberated to change themselves and their beliefs at any time. Society’s stereotypical outlook on gender, roles, responsibilities and labels don’t exist in our TOPshelf world. This way we encourage the creative beasts that roam Gippsland to roar for our right to create the best possible world.

Creative Beast: Ash Neill
Species: Graphic Designer
Description: Rigorous, organised, fluid, calm, big heart, condenser, autonomous
Soul Goal: Altering The Design
BIG win: Co-Director of TOPshelf

Ash is a graphic designer with a massive interest in visual branding and its psychological influence. He fell in love with design in high school after completing a project on creating a faux brand. Ever since, it’s become Ash’s passion to create well-executed brand identity designs for a large range of clients.

His soul goal was to rebuild his portfolio after feeling a bit chewed-up by the TAFE system. Ash developed the TOPself program branding and various other projects, and is now extrapolating that into creating intelligent designs for a small community group. He is further demonstrating that altering the design of a business can shift the cultural landscape of that community into a place of visually pleasing aesthetics.

Creative Beast: Jeremy Kasper
Species: Fine Art / Street Artist
Description: Dynamic, intentional, thorough, observant, builder, perpetual motion
Soul Goal: Reclaim Our Lanes
BIG Win: Regional Art Victoria $15k Community Art Grant 2017

Trained in classical French cuisine in Canada and qualified as a Red Seal Chef, Jeremy has had an extensive, 20-year, cheffing career, with his menus and dishes showcasing fresh, seasonal and colourful ingredients to create art on a plate. In 2015, Jeremy decided to change career to pursue his passion for the arts at RMIT, graduating with a Diploma Of Visual Arts and continuing into an Advanced Diploma.

Recently, Jeremy has been working on his solo exhibition, Inertia, which is an exploration of landscape in motion.

Since 2014, Jeremy has been producing commissioned street art murals on walls and private residences. The murals are illustrative and colourful – providing blank walls a new lease on life.

Through TOPshelf Jeremy introduces his Reclaim Our Lanes Project, which aims to connect the community and youth through art. The project creates murals in Wellington Shire inspired by local people, their stories and cultural history. The project aims to improve the vibrancy of the street, remove unwanted graffiti and tags, and replace it with works of art. TOPshelf has helped Jeremy in his bid to gain funding through grants and donations to assist in material and paint costs to realise this project.

Creative Beast: Abbey Tucker + Emma Hellings
Species: Performers
Description: Synchronicity, intuitive, fire and air, movement, curious, daring, wonder
Soul Goal: Silent Soulful Sounds
BIG Win: Booking two workshops

Abbey and Emma are two groovy sunshine bringers, near to emerge from the other side of VCE. Their life aim is to touch souls, effect change, and make this world a more beautiful place. Abbey and Emma love people and are totally intrigued by the ways in which people connect and the psychology of human connections. Their hope is to allow people the opportunity to be one with each other in the beautiful realm of creativity and inspire. ‘Communication’ is so overused these days that we find people ‘bubble’ over the top of shallow, insignificant small talk.

Abbey and Emma’s exhibition connects people amongst the depths in a beautifully raw, authentic silence. They’ll gather a range of people, from all different walks of life, and ask them to communicate about an
indicated topic without the use of sound. They’ll push the barriers of body language and expression and demolish the predisposed stereotypes of ‘vibing’ with a total stranger. In short, they don’t play in the rock pools of communication, but dive in the depths.

Creative Beast: Kaitlyn Francis
Species: Photographer
Description: Unstoppable force, old soul, academic, self-taught, sponge, co-creator
Soul Goal: A Bag Of Skittles
BIG Win: Nailing two solo exhibitions and Winner of Wellington Youth Art Prize

A contemporary artist, Kaitlyn explores the nature of not only her own, but others identities, and the impact that has on their relationships. Currently completing her VCE certificate, Kaitlyn’s work reflects the way a teenager’s mind works. Exploring the experiences of today’s youth, including the pressures of schooling, relationships (platonic and romantic) and the looming fear of the future once school is completed.

Adopted as a six-month-old, her biological mother passed away in 2007, leaving Kaitlyn to navigate complicated relationships, fears of abandonment and quite strange coping mechanisms. A Bag Of Skittles, Kaitlyn’s first solo show at Briagolong Art Gallery, explored what it meant to live rurally, the idolisation of the ‘city’, and the lifestyles and architecture of the people that live in juxtaposed regions.
The show marked a stepping stone in Kaitlyn’s fine art photography career, giving her a confidence boost that photography is a possible career, not just a hobby.

Her recent solo exhibition, Zenskost, at Brunswick Street Gallery, explored how most of the people she surrounds herself with are feminine appearing or female identifying and how their surroundings reflect their personalities. Every photograph is a subconscious reflection of her life and the people she chooses to associate with.

Creative Beast: Grace Ware
Species: Artist
Description: Ephemeral, rebel, firecracker, problem solver, inventor, bold, badass
Soul Goal: Finding The Lion
BIG Win: Featured on Instagram, @dopelemonmusic

Grace is a self-taught artist from Traralgon, who displays a surrealist and quirky flair in her illustrations. Her artwork explodes with bold detail, through line work and tone, giving life to her offbeat and eccentric
characters. Grace paints how she feels using her distinct band of characters and symbolism. Grace’s surf punk-inspired style and thought-evoking graphics make her a distinctive young artist emerging from the Valley.

Grace stands by the Frida Kahlo quote, “Surrealism is the magical surprise of finding a lion in a wardrobe, where you were ‘sure’ of finding shirts”. Grace consistently strives to create a lion in my wardrobe – one that will disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. The dream is to bring a mighty lion to my wardrobe of wearable denim art. With the help of the Alt_Art collective community and mentors Grace has a strong force behind her to learn, experiment and bloom as a young regional artist.

Creative Beast: Tara Cornell
Species: Watercolor artist
Description: Healer, entrepreneur, hunter and gatherer, survival, inspirer, obsessive
Soul Goal: Adventures Of Tara’s Art
BIG Win: Nailing a residency at the Foundry

Adventures Of Tara’s Art is a Sale-based watercolourist that promotes healing via therapeutic artworks. After pursuing many different careers, Tara has finally begun chasing her passion in art through her business and selling works through various stores in Gippsland, including the Foundry in Bairnsdale and the Yinnar General Store.

Growing up, Tara was always told that she couldn’t be a successful artist and had to choose a ‘proper career’. Now, she’s defying the naysayers having started her business; selling her cards and art. For Tara star constellations and galaxies are integral to her being. Tara’s Aunt taught her art therapy and to heal from life’s troubles through art. Tara now uses this for herself, as well as healing others. The manipulation and flow of the watercolour on paper is one of the most calming things to watch and do.

Colours also help Tara self-reflect her moods, whether she’s angry (red) or calm (blue/purple) or happy (turquoise). Reflecting emotions through art conveys that emotion to others. Tara’s art describes beauty and healing, and needs to be shared.

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