I'd been toying with the idea of running workshops for some time. People asked me about it; I said I'd think about; but nothing ever seemed to happen about it. I'd done several demonstrations, completing sculptural techniques for the edification and entertainment of small groups of interested artists and the general public but I'd never run a hands-on class. Then a sculptor friend suggest I go country and try for some Regional Arts Development Funding (RADF) to cover it and that finally got me motivated.
I've never received a grant before. Yet it seemed to me, a big part of many artists trade was the applying for, and awarding of, monies for the purpose of advancing their practice. While technically the grant was not awarded to me but to the Roma on Bungil Gallery for the purpose of having me run a couple of workshops, it was me that developed the program, formulated a budget and filled in and submitted the form so I'll take it as mine in all but name.
My first full blown workshop was a short lesson in observational drawing. It's a subject dear to my heart as it was Observational Drawing taught by Mia Clarke at the BIA which got me going just a few short years ago after not engaging with art in any meaningful way since high-school. And while I couldn't hope to cover in a couple of hours what She had taught me over many weeks, I thought it was a good way to lift the veil on the practical nature of art making and give the locals a chance to get to know me too.
One down, one to go. For my second outing, I ran a workshop on the process and materials required to complete a two part plaster mould, a process I employ quite often. The materials are inexpensive and readily accessible. No heavy tools or specialist equipment is required. As far as short workshops go, I felt it was a worthy sculptural technique (something people might want to learn) and more importantly, achievable no matter how remote the venue.
The planning required to head some 600 kilometers from home and ensure you've not left anything behind is no casual thing. Ask any new parent with small children preparing for an outing, even just down the road and they'll tell you much the same. I was hauling 80 kilos of plaster, 60 kilos of clay, buckets, bottles, measuring cans, tape, scrapers, chisels, hammers, ply boards, hessian, scissors, petroleum jelly, colour oxides, ink, pva glue, fibreglass, concrete and enough plastic sheeting to cover a tennis court. And honestly, I don't think I could have done without any of it.
Despite my getting slightly lost and arriving late, I think everyone had a great day and learned some things. Big thanks to Nikki and Peter Thompson for hosting the workshop at their property, Echo Hills Farm and a big thanks to the Maranoa Council for their support through the RADF.
With the dust settled on a successful campaign out west, it was time for my travelling companion Hermann and I to reflect over a couple of cold beers. We’ve had home cooked meals, been treated to Piano Accordion recitals, gotten lost, found our way again, met Cowboys and Bikies, inspected cattle, gazed at the stars and made a bit of art. As Hermann was fond of saying, you couldn’t buy this kind of experience.