Gondwana Connections

Eco-Art Retreats with creative community collaboration 

Earlier this year Balijup Farm in Tenterden, WA was the location for two Green Skills’ Eco-Art Retreats and a youth field study trip. The farm hosts a recently fenced off fauna sanctuary, an extensive series of lake systems as well as remnant bushland and land that has been cleared for farming.

At the first retreat there were 23 participants with 3 facilitators from the Butter Factory Studios in Denmark. The program was full from early morning bird-song meditative sessions focusing on sensing place to bush creatures with Robyn Lees, eco-dying with Janine Mcrum and printmaking techniques with Nikki Green.

The second eco-art retreat had a Cultural focus with 3 local Noongar artists in attendance - Cheryl and Caroline Narkle and Joey Williams. Joey Williams facilitated the painting of a large scale canvas, mapping the lakes and the story of Balijup. There were 10 people in attendance – 4 Noongar and 6 non-Indigenous people allowing for intimate sharings of cultural knowledge and custom. Two Butter Factory Artists, Nikki Green and Janine McCrum were also involved in the creative exchange sharing knowledge of eco-dying and printmaking techniques.

The field study trip involved 18 young people from Denmark coming out to learn about the process of film-making through the development of story-boards. This was facilitated by artist and choreographer, Annette Carmichael and musician James Gentle who worked with the young people on creating sound scapes for the film.

The artworks, created at Balijup and in response to these events were showcased inexhibitions at the Butter Factory Studios (Denmark) and the Vancouver Art Centre (Albany) . Over 120 people attended the opening evening with a Welcome to Country, a poetry reading with live musical accompaniment and a film screening – all inspired by the Cultural and Ecological context of Balijup Farm.