From the UK Midlands to Central NSW

A long journey from Derbyshire’s damp green hills and dales to the wide brown plains of inland New South Wales; from Wirksworth’s Arts Festival to our own Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival back home in the small country town of Forbes. Continue reading

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Australian Pavilion Exhibition, Derbyshire Ecocentre

Eat your heart out Venice Biennale, we rural Aussie arts makers have an Australian Pavilion here in Wirksworth, England, too. Ours is in the Derbyshire Ecocentre, a solar powered architectural masterpiece built from local gritstone, limestone and European Larch, with a living roof of locally endemic native plants. Locals are very proud of this building, the first in Derbyshire to meet the highest design and performance ratings of Britain’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEM). Continue reading

Transforming a country town with art

It was true. Arts makers and arts lovers really did take over Wirksworth on the first weekend of this town’s rural arts festival in September 2013. Shop windows filled with contemporary arts and craftsworks, even the local fish and chip shop; the churches too. Dozens of locals offered their houses, gardens and sheds as galleries and willingly allowed artists to fill their walls, shelves and floor spaces with foreign objects, and let complete strangers to wander through their inner sanctums. Continue reading

In England’s navel

Wirksworth nestles in the valley of the Ecclesbourne, a trickle the locals call a river. DH Lawrence, who lived here in 1918, called this town “the navel of England”. We visiting Australians are living at the navel’s very centre, in a couple of houses older than European settlement in our homeland: all locally quarried stone, rickety stairways and small-paned windows overlooking a jumble of slate roofs and chimney pots and, beyond them, a view of dalesides dotted with contented sheep and cows. I’m in White Lion House, a former pub on Coldwell Street opposite the Baptist Church. Continue reading

Rural artists: a cultural exchange

The cereal crops were green and lush when I left Forbes, and the canola was blooming, hundreds of hectares of buttercup sunshine stretching horizon-to-horizon. Best Spring in decades, the farmers were saying. Continue reading