A Little Piece of Heaven receives funding to tour region

Orana Arts is pleased to announce a successful application to the Create NSW Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund. The $20,000 grant will bring Aboriginal theatre — for the first time — to some regional NSW communities. Performances of A Little Piece Of Heaven, written and performed by Wiradjuri Elders Aunty Ruth Carney and Uncle Dick Carney, will be staged in the Gilgandra Shire and Bogan Shire localities later in 2019.

In A Little Piece of Heaven the couple tell their story in their own words, delivering a truly extraordinary and previously untold tale of Aboriginal life in country NSW through the twentieth century. The show received rave reviews when it was performed for Narromine and Dubbo audiences in 2018, with one audience member saying that the show:

“…gave me an important and extraordinary insight into the hardships experienced by Aoriginal people in rural Australia through the voices of those who had lived it. It also spoke to the dignity, integrity and strength of Aunty Ruth Carney and Uncle Dick Carney, and their love for each other. They have brought a special light to me personally.” 

The NSW Government funding will enable the show to tour to Gilgandra and Nyngan, towns which share a special connection to the Carney family and their story. The tour will take place in the second half of this year. 

Orana Arts Executive Director Alicia Rodriguez Leggett calls A Little Piece of Heaven:

“An authentic voice for regional theatre that transcends the place of its creation due to the universal themes of love, loss, grief and joy.”

The production has been created by an Aboriginal led artistic team under the direction of acclaimed theatre-maker John Harvey of Brown Cab Productions. A Little Piece of Heaven will also tour to Melbourne’s Footscray Community Arts Centre in May as part of the Yirramboi Festival.  

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A Little Piece of Heaven is proudly presented with support from the NSW Government.

Artist Profile: Barbara Scott on her photographic exhibition Country

We recently chatted with Gilgandra photographer Barbara Scott about her creative practice, inspirations and her new exhibition Country, now on display at the Gilgandra Art Gallery.

How did you first get into photography and what draws you to the medium? 

What draws me to photography is being able to be creative to produce something I enjoy. I first became interested in photography when I was given an instamatic camera by my parents when I was about 12. I knew I enjoyed taking photos and over the years discovered I wasn’t too bad. In 2010 I had burnout and it was recommended to me to do something on a regular basis that nurtured my soul. I did some courses in photography and was selected to exhibit in the student exhibition at The Australian Centre for Photography. 

Photographer Barbara Scott

Photographer Barbara Scott

Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking and photography?

Ken Duncan has been a big influencer as I’ve met him personally and have heard the stories behind some of his photos. He is very patient — more patient than I am — knows what he wants to capture and will wait for the right moment. Ken says that the hardest thing about photography is ‘getting out of bed,’ i.e. getting up in the morning to photograph, or just pushing yourself to go for that drive. This comment has influenced me greatly and has encouraged me to ‘just do it.’

My dad enjoyed photography and he encouraged me to make it my hobby. Tony Hewitt is another photographer who inspires me. He encourages photographers to find their own style and to be themselves, creating their own unique images. I love his work and enjoy his uniqueness.

Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

For me, if the photograph makes my heart sing, that’s enough. If it makes someone else’s heart sing, that’s an added blessing.  

Sometimes photographs have a story; other times I just enjoy the overall composition. Most photos that have a story will talk about issues of life. For example: I photographed an old rusted ute at sunset. I called this image ‘Retired.’ The story for me is about looking after your body while you are young so you can enjoy your retirement. Some photographs just ‘happen’ and others have to be carefully constructed.

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What do you find inspiring about the Gilgandra region — what motivates you to capture the country in this way?

I enjoy seeing life on farms: the cattle and sheep, the woodsheds, the crops and the people. The river and creeks, even when they are not flowing, provide inspiration. Forests and windmills, the bush and old dead trees also provide inspiration. The light and the clouds motivate me to take a drive and see what I can find. Having someone to ‘shoot’ with also provides motivation. I have a good friend I go out with often. 

What does this collection of images — Country — mean to you? 

They are a collection of my photography over the past three years. This is my artist statement:

Over the past few years I have been taking photographs around Gilgandra. My hope is that most of these photos will connect you to something you’ve seen or experienced in our local area. (A couple of favourite shots from Kakadu National Park are in the mix!)

Having grown up in Gilgandra and returned now forty years later, I am seeing the beauty of Gilgandra through fresh eyes. In 2016, the Castlereagh River at sunrise after rain, this year the land in drought, a closer look at sheep and cattle, and the pine trees that blow in Spring. 

After reading some articles on photographing concrete, I visited the silos on Warren Road and some walls in our main street. This led me to discovering other abstract options around town. 

Beautiful clouds can come up over our town and I’ve endeavoured to show you some variations of these. However, not all clouds bring rain!

Photography is my hobby and the way I have been nurturing myself after experiencing burnout. I enjoy creating images that make my heart sing. I hope they make your heart sing too!

The Country Photographic Exhibition by Barbara Scott is on at the Gilgandra Art Gallery at the Coo-ee Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, 9am–5pm from 12 September to 28 October.

Country photo.jpeg

Regional Writing: The Point Blank Writer's Group

In 2012 the Gilgandra Shire Library hosted a writing workshop and was delighted by the enthusiasm – another workshop soon after yielded the same strong turn-out and an enthusiasm for regular writing meet-ups. The Point Blank Writers’ Group was established and the group has been sharing stories ever since.

As a response to the interest in the Gilgandra community, the writing collective began as a Gilgandra Library program. Library Manager Liz McCutcheon says:

The library is the meeting place; library staff plan and promote the group, with Point Blank members providing the creativity and running the meetings. Point Blank is open to everyone and always welcomes new members. It has been an example of the way in which public libraries everywhere are responding to community need as places of equity and inclusion, and when they partner with community members to provide new opportunities for creativity and community development, they are a powerful resource. In this case, Point Blank Writer’s Group members and the library have partnered to develop a unique program that has enriched the lives of its members through the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and create new work.
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The name Point Blank Writers’ Group comes from a story by founding member Janet Cheal:

As a child I had noticed that often when the newsreader spoke about the shooting that it happened at point blank range. I’d heard of Point Cook and Point Piper so I asked Dad           
‘Why on earth do people even GO there?’   
‘Where?’ he asked.
‘Point Blank!’ I said. ‘There’s always someone getting shot there!’
Dad roared with laughter and then explained what it really meant – I was only about eight years old.
More than sixty years later, at the first meeting of our Gilgandra Writer’s Group we were throwing around ideas for a name. Somehow the link between a blank page confronting a writer, meanings and misunderstandings of words, as well as our target of writing stories to share, seemed to coalesce as I shared my childhood story of a foolish misunderstanding with my ‘wordsmith’ friends.
And that is how we came to call ourselves the Point Blank Writer’s Group.

The group has its members lead workshops and as such the topis have been varied: writing for advertising and press releases, editing, submitting work for publication, various kinds of poetry, the elements of style, comedy writing and more. In 2016 the collective was ready for a new challenge, and at the suggestion of local artist Judy Shaloub, set about creating illustrations to accompany stories. This series of illustrated stories resulted in an exhibition at the Gilgandra Art Gallery and the group’s first anthology.

The Point Blank Writer’s Group has been inspired by two resources: Round Table Writing: a workbook for writers groups, edited by Erin Heffernan; and Round Table Magic: keeping the magic in your writing group, compiled by The Pencil Orchids Creative Writing Group et al.

Point Blank Writer’s Group welcomes questions and engagement from writers and readers – contact Liz McCutcheon at the Gilgandra Shire Library: lmccutcheon@gilgandra.nsw.gov.au

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Orana Region Writing

There are a variety of groups around the region for budding writers to share their work and hone their craft. Here are a few opportunities for literary connection:

Coona Writers
A newly formed writers group to help, encourage and share writing. Meets at the Coonabarabran Library. Get in touch via the CoonaWriters Facebook Group.

Cudgegong Valley Writers
CVW meet in Room 2 of Club Mudgee on the second Friday of each month,
12–3pm. Anyone with an interest in writing is welcome to attend. They hold competitions and workshops, monthly themed readings and writing trigger games. Contact Jill Baggett for more information.

The Orana Writers’ Hub
Run by the Outback Writers’ Centre, the Orana Writers meet regularly in Dubbo. Contact Val Clark or visit the Outback Writers’ Centre for more information.

Point Blank Writers
Run through the Gilgandra Shire Library, this group meets once a month and have a different workshop on writing each meeting. All welcome – to join contact Gilgandra Shire Library on 6817 8877 or via email.