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Regional Arts Development Central West NSW

New event series in Cowra launches album and blueprint for arts events


Artists of Cowra East launch a new album by ‘The Wildflowers’ on May, the first of a new series of arts events to bring community together.

Two events in 2023 will be supported by the NSW Government’s County Arts Support Program (CASP) via Arts OutWest. The first of these will be the launch of ‘The Wildflowers’ new album ‘Another Day In A Country Town’ in May and an exhibition of Brenda Stace’s latest paintings in October. These will both happen at Cowra Railway Station. Reactivating the station as a vibrant arts venue is just one of the goals of this arts collective.

The Artists of Cowra East group met up for cups of tea and cake under our big green tree one afternoon and gathered together answers to our questions about the project. Lucy Lehmann is one of the collaborators on Artists of Cowra East, and with partner Andy Baylor, is one half of ‘The Wildflowers’.


Cowra Railway Station 16 Mid Western Hwy,, Cowra, NSW, Australia

AOW: You applied for a CASP grant under the banner of ‘Artists of Cowra’. Who have you brought together in this group and what has drawn you all together.

Lucy: The core members of ACE are Ken Hutchinson, Brenda Stace, Andy Baylor, Helen Isaksen and me, Lucy Lehmann.  We are friends and neighbours living in the east side of Cowra, who share ideas and ideals about building community and culture.  We are all artists – Ken and Brenda are sculptors and painters, Andy is a musician and painter, I am a writer and musician, except Helen, though we have debated on counting her as a ‘culinary artist’.  An exception here and there keeps groups open and inclusive.  Ken suggests we are drawn together also by “a will to overthrow the state”; perhaps closer to the truth is a will to overthrow the status quo, and make something where there wasn’t anything.

AOW: What conversations or need promoted the formation of this collective of creatives ‘Artists of Cowra’?

Lucy: Andy quotes renowned Cajun luthier, Mark Savoy, “You make culture out of what you don’t have.”  ACE came together after the isolation of Covid.  We wanted to reaffirm ourselves as artists and as a community.  We felt that Cowra artists, despite having a regional gallery, needed more support; it’s easier for a group to champion its members that an artist to champion her- or himself.  Helen reminds us we also wanted to “have some fun”.  We all agree that putting on an event where you can get a group of people together from your neighbourhood and “have fun, forget your troubles”, is a worthy venture.

AOW: There are two parts to this project, tell us about part one, the album launch. Who have you lined up for the event and what can people expect?

Lucy: The first event is The Wildflowers’ Annual Show.  The Wildflowers are Andy Baylor and me, and at our Annual Show, we are launching our new album ‘Another Day In A Country Town’. I like to think of The Wildflowers as country music, but as I grew up in Sydney and Andy in Melbourne, there’s a fair bit of ‘town’ in there, too.  Andy and my collaboration usually involves me writing a lyric and Andy composing a tune for it.  I try to keep my song-writing less wordy than my novel-writing, but there is still a lot of story-telling going on.  Andy is known as one of the founding fathers of Melbourne’s roots music scene, and it’s still a wonder to me every time he lends his musicianship – a lifetime of performing, practising and listening – to my lyrics.  You read a lot of hyperbole when it comes to the arts, and I don’t like to add mine to the heap, but there’s no other way to describe it than as a wonder, or a small miracle.

AOW: What kind of sound can we expect from ‘The Wildflowers’?

Lucy: For the Annual Show, we have enlisted the Waugoola Ramblers, who are Stuie Sims on keyboard, Woolly Wooldridge on bass and Will Bennett and percussion.  Our special guest is poet Geoffrey Lehmann, winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry (and also my father). Geoff has written many poems about people and places around Cowra – even a whole collection, ‘Spring Forest’.  We’ll also be offering dinner.

AOW: You’ve chosen Cowra Railway Station as the venue for both the June album launch and October exhibition – what attracted you to this venue? How will you be using it?

Lucy: We’re putting on The Wildflowers’ Annual Show at the Cowra Railway Station, with the co-operation of the Cowra Antique Vehicle Club.  We ACEs have spent many hours walking down the railway line, playing there with children, walking dogs, picking wildflowers (also known as weeds), picking up old bolts, nice rocks, snake skins etc.  Andy’s art studio is in the signal room at the end of the platform.  We love the railways buildings, and have a lot of respect for the Car Club and how they look after the station.  The railway station is the landmark for the eastern part of Cowra.  It is a focal point capable of tying the different elements of our events together.

AOW: Is there a longer term goal for the ‘Artists of Cowra’ collective?

Lucy: Helen suggests “sustainability” as a longer term goal for ACE.  We would like these events, which are a little experimental, to establish a successful formula for subsequent community events at the railway station.  We’d like to be building a supportive community of artists and friends.  We’d like to be making something where there wasn’t anything.

AOW: How do you think small seed grants like CASP are best used to launch artist activity in communities?

Lucy: What we’ve appreciated about CASP so far is that it is locally-administered, given thoughtfully to people to whom a little means a lot.  For ACE, getting the CASP grant has been motivating, and has brought us together even more, giving us responsibility and focussing our efforts and ideas.

For tickets to The Wildflowers’ Annual Show:

To listen to the album:

For a film clip of ‘Another Day In A Country Town’: Another Day In A Country Town

IMAGE: The Wildflowers. Supplied.