Anne Harris plant study 9

From Big Things Little Things Grow

Image source: IN Noosa Magazine

Noosa Regional Gallery Director, Michael Brennan, reflects on how small artistic and political actions can result in significant social and cultural outcomes.

I know – it was the other way around in Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody’s iconic protest song of the early ‘90s. But the tree that fell across Eumundi Noosa Road in September 2015 could hardly be described as little. And in the shadow of that 50 metre tall Forest Red Gum – albeit now on its side – the creative projects that took root are no doubt much smaller in scale.

While Kelly and Carmody built a song around the story of Vincent Lingiarri and the quiet yet profound stand of the Gurindji people which ultimately gave rise to the Indigenous land rights movement in Australia, at the heart of their tune was the idea that little actions could lead to the realisation of big ideas.

We are reminded of what can be achieved if we hold firm to our convictions and step up in those situations where there is an opportunity to show others what we believe in.

When Noosa Shire artist Anne Harris followed the fallen form of an ancient tree to the local rubbish dump and made the decision to salvage it rather than watch it be chipped, she set about a chain of events that has seen some 25 separate creative projects develop.

Each of these artistic offshoots will be revealed during Tree Place, an exhibition Harris has curated for Noosa Regional Gallery this summer.

With many of the artists in Tree Place living and working in the region, there is a real sense of connection to and respect for the local environment in this collection of works – a common attitude that runs through a grouping of projects that are compellingly various in their medium and form.

Several of the artists in this exhibition have worked directly with timber from the ancient tree. Others have responded to its energy and form in less direct ways. Using the languages of sculpture, ceramics, assemblage, installation and a range of other creative approaches to their projects, these artists ask the question, what is left now that this massive tree no longer stands in the space that it occupied for several centuries?

It will be fascinating to watch how these personal projects make their presence felt for both visitors to the exhibition and in the future works of the artists themselves. Perhaps from these little things, even bigger things will grow.

It is often difficult to know where the spark of an idea or belief will take you.

This is the nature of art. If nothing else is common across all creative people, it is the ability to nurture the sprout of an idea – to give it some care and attention and watch it grow. Sometimes these ideas require considerable effort to make sure they survive. Other times they seem to grow themselves. Once an idea gets form and takes root, however, the sky’s the limit.

Enjoy the very special Tree Place program on the following pages and view the exhibition from until 27 January at Noosa Regional Gallery.

Speaking of collective community beliefs and actions, Friends Noosa Regional Gallery are again celebrating the breadth and diversity of artists working here on the Sunshine Coast this summer with their annual members’ exhibition, Taste of Art.

It was the Friends – when they were known as the Noosa Gallery Society – who in fact drove the push for Noosa Regional Gallery to be established some 37 years ago.

This group of artists and culturally engaged community members sowed the seeds for the thriving Gallery that is planted on the banks of the Noosa River in Tewantin here today. They were persistent in their call for a public Gallery for the region and indeed continue to champion ambitious projects and exhibitions that stretch the limits of the current gallery space.

About the Author /

Director of Noosa Regional Gallery and described as an ‘accidental curator’ this prize-winning painter and sculptor has moved from creating works to curating them. It all began when he opened The Trocadero Art Space in Footscray in an effort to build an arts community in the area and 14 years later it is still standing we are lucky to have him taking the arts to a whole new level in our region.

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