Art Beat of the Country
Art Beat of the Country
This story begins in the 1970s, when Australia left the European Common Market and dairying suffered a large fall in commodity prices. Getting food on the table for the family became a real concern. Young people could not see a future for themselves on the land and left for jobs in the city. Land values fell. Local communities felt their way of life was being threatened.Mary Salce AO
The stories here describe how one rural region, Gippsland, in the south-east corner of Australia, responded to these hard times. The answer was found in art.
Art provided hope and social, cultural and economic pathways. Funding and leadership led to two projects which aimed to raise the self-esteem and confidence of women by offering opportunity to develop vital life skills and at the same time, produce something that would have a lasting benefit to the community.
The Uniting Our Rural Communities (UORC) Cultural and Community Leadership Project in 1997 and several years later, the Women Who Mean Business (WWMB) project, provided opportunities for women to develop skills in leadership, business and the arts. Not only did these projects accomplish great outcomes within the local community at the time, the women involved went on to lead remarkable and fulfilling lives, drawing on many skills gained through the projects.
The women, many now in their 70s and 80s, reflect on what happens when opportunity is provided to develop self-respect, focus on goals, and collaborate for amazing outcomes.
Stories from Art Beat of the Country
This selection of stories documents the firsthand reflections of women involved in two art and community projects in an Australian rural region from 1997-2007. Threads in women’s stories weave a rich tapestry of social history that preserves the voices, thoughts and feelings of making do and finding solutions during difficult times. Women, young and old, came together to participate and collaborate in the projects which served as group/community therapy as well as providing individuals with skills and leadership training. Many women said, if not for the projects, they would have remained isolated in their community; moreover, through participating, they were inspired to engage in self-enriching pursuits and careers.
Besides addressing issues of financial hardship and low self-esteem, the art projects provided relief from undercurrents of mental health issues, domestic violence, loneliness and isolation.
Read their stories below and be sure to check in regularly as new stories will be added, well into 2020.
Jessie McLennan is a West Gippsland-based figurative sculptor, arts advocate and passionate gardener and has four children aged from five to 24. Jessie was born in 1973. She had a creative upbringing, being home-schooled on..
After 42 years living at nearby Riverslea on a dairy farm, Trish Vardy resides in Maffra. Sadly, her husband died shortly after they had moved, but Trish keeps busy with family and community activities. She..
Maya Fraser has coloured her life and that of many others, with art, and her accomplishments reflect this. Maya lives in Morwell, Latrobe Valley, with her husband and four children. An only child of Frans..
If you ask Jean Downs what she has done with her life, she will probably say ‘not much’, because Jean is a quiet-living woman going about her daily life. Jean, who lives in the dairy..
So, you want to record stories about participating in a group or moment in time; you have decided the topic and have created a database of people who are willing to share their story. What..
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