Rebus Theatre and Project Alchemy Present
An exhibition which captures the ‘golden’ moments of the journey of 15 artist’s as they heal hearts and weave magic through a network of arts-based projects in response to the Black Summer Fires.
Official opening: 6.00-8.30pm Friday 23 February
The Queanbeyan Hive Gallery, 274 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan NSW 2620
Welcome to country by Aunty Dr Matilda House-Williams – Female Elder of the Year National NAIDOC Awards 2023
– Virginia Rigney – Senior Curator, Visual Arts, Canberra Museum and Gallery
– Dr Kirsten Wehner – James O Fairfax Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment, National Museum of Australia
– The Hon. Steve Whan, MP – Member for Monaro – Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education – Member of the Australian Labor Party
Exhibition dates: Sat 24 Feb – Sun 17 March
Opening times: Friday 5.30pm-8.00pm, Sat-Sun 10.00am-3.00pm
‘Alchemy’ is the final coming together of the 15 Project Alchemy artists who have worked together for the last year on a series of cross disciplinary arts projects to build community connection across south-east Australia.
The project is facilitated by award winning Canberra based Rebus Theatre and has taken place in Bega Valley Shire, Eurobodalla Shire, East Gippsland, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, and the ACT with three artists selected from each region.
In November 2022 Rebus led its first of 2 residencies for the artists to heal their own trauma from the Black Summer Fires, and to develop skills and networks to further the possibility of trauma informed practice and arts-led economic recovery. Following on from the second residency in early 2023, artists have developed their organisational, artistic and leadership skills by working individually and in collaboration on projects. Their projects were creative and diverse with a focus on bringing about increased hopefulness and enhancing community spirit.
Projects have included community dances and movement jams, wonder walks through fire devesated properties, eco dying, printmaking, lantern, music and chromatogram workshops, cosplay tree planting, music and dance performances and visual art exhibitions. As well as running their own projects our artists have partnered with a range of festivals sharing their creative projects with audiences at The Daring Festival of Possibilities (Bega Valley Shire), River of Arts Festival (Bega Valley Shire) and Lakes Lights Festival (East Gippsland).
Project Alchemy artist Michele Grimston shares her experience. “This opportunity has been so powerful for me. I feel like it has allowed me to explore my practice in a new way, and to understand more deeply how supporting my own artistic practice and need to create can open up deeper spaces for me to support others in turn.”
A participant in one of Michele’s workshops shared… “I’ve had such a beautiful day and such a restorative experience. Thank you so much for providing this space to come together and simultaneously be with ourselves. I’m so thrilled to have shared this space with everyone and with my new skill”.
Examples of community works created during Michelles breathing space residency including a few small embroidered works and a larger collaborative piece will be on display in the exhibition.
For Cecile Galiazzo, her project Wonder Walks were an opportunity to bring together friends and others from across the QPRC region and ACT, to walk and talk and share and to see first hand the regeneration of the bush that was fire-affected. She reflects that this has given her a ‘re-appreciation’ of the value of diversity of our community and landscapes and that they have been an inspiration that will continue to feed her arts practice.
A couple of concertina art books showcasing the drawing and painting taken during the walks will be on display during the exhibition along with a long string of prayer flags made from her eco-dying workshops.
After losing her studio and her lifes work Project Alchemy artist Sue Norman reflects… “At last, I’m living in the beautiful new home created from the ashes of my Kiah studio. For me, it is work to find my feet in the waves of grief coming at me from the wider knowledge of the government’s intransigence despite even more dire warnings from the IPCC…. I’m avidly learning about trauma to understand how it works and how to teach our brains resilience; how we can buffer those overwhelming emotions to be as effective as possible in this time of need”.
After seeking help from a bushfire counsellor, Sue started working with that counsellor on a public education project to present information about understanding trauma and the brain in an accessible way to volunteers and others working with people struggling with life’s challenges since the fire. She has produced an illustrated handbook for understanding trauma and the brain with Colleen Weir called Nye on the River of Life which will available for free during the exhibition.
This rich, multimedia exhibition will showcase the artists personal journeys as well as their collaborative work and reach to their own communites. It will leave you touched with the profound difference that Project Alchemy has brought about for the artists as well as the hundreds of participants in the communities they have worked in.
Those who can make it to the official opening will get a chance to meet some of the artists who will be performing dance, music and poetry readings.
Project Alchemy is made possible thanks to funding from the Australian Government for the Black Summer Bushfire Grant Program. Rebus is also supported by Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres and the ACT Government.