prepare to exchange + pavilion project 
Exchanging the art of Central West New South Wales with Derbyshire, UK

The Australian Pavilion Project: Exchanging the art of Central West New South Wales with Derbyshire, UK.

In 2013 Arts OutWest presented a really exciting international project that has ongoing outcomes and professional connections even today.

There was two stages to this project:

Part 1: Prepare to Exchange

The first local part of this project was called ‘Prepare to Exchange‘ – and that’s exactly what it was: Preparing top level local arts practitioners for an international exchange and the kind of work that might entail; especially leading workshops and presenting their work in a new cultural setting.

Prepare to Exchange was funded by the Australian Government through the Regional Arts Fund.

  1. PlanningA visit in March 2013 from two representatives from Derbyshire.  The Arts Education consultant for Derbyshire County Council, Kim Johnston and dancer/choreographer Debi Hedderwick travelled to Australia to meet with practitioners, see arts practice in the NSW Central West and explore collaboration
  2. Preparing to Exchange: 7-8 March 2013a 2 day residential workshop at The Corridor Project was held for selected practitioners from the NSW Central West region to explore the partnership with Derbyshire.
  3. Local practice workshops: The delivery of collaborative workshopsat home in Australia (March-May 2013) by the participating creatives, putting into practice approaches developed at the residential workshop.
Part 2: The Australian Pavilion at the Wirksworth Festival, UK

Some of the artists from the initial activities went to participate in the UK exchange element of the project (those that that the time in their schedules).

A dozen Australian artists spent September 2013 in the UK: Harrie Fasher, Adam Deusien, Alison Plevey, Chrtistine Sweeney, Lanny MacKenzie, Christine McMillan, Ken Hutchinson, Kim Deacon, Aleshia Lonsdale, Nyree Reynolds, Merrill Findlay, Tracey Callinan.

The artists and creatives from Central West NSW Australia set up ‘The Australian Pavilion‘ at the Wirksworth Festival. We took over the Derbyshire Eco Centre, putting artwork on the popular art trail and hosted a theatre double bill in the town. Before and during the festival artists ran workshops, got hands-on and involved themselves in local art projects in Derbyshire.

The project was about providing rural-based Australian artists with international exposure, new artistic challenges and a cohort of fellow artists to collaborate with. It was about extending both artistic practice and workshop leading skills. It was about sharing a very Australian selection of art with a UK and international audience. It was about making connections and learning about your own sense of place by experiencing someone else’s.

Connecting and connections

Cowra sculptor Ken Hutchinson arrived in Wirksworth first and teamed up with National Trust stone carver Richard Hickton and together they produced beautiful and thought provoking new sculptures for our hosts the Derbyshire Eco Centre.

Alison Plevey and Adam Deusien from Bathurst physical theatre company Lingua Franca made great connections with Derby Dance (Deda).

Sculptor Harrie Fasher lined up metalwork studio space for herself in Derbyshire.

Lanny McKenzie learnt new techniques in weaving and in using natural dyes.

Painter Nyree Reynolds developed a new template for incorporating Aboriginal cultural work into her painting workshops.

Kim Deacon collaborated with musicians and Derbyshire’s poet laureate.

Aboriginal artists Aleshia Lonsdale and Tony Lonsdale were able to compare their own connection to country with some of the ancient traditions in the English countryside and link to the sustainability work of the Derbyshire Eco Centre.

Christine Sweeney used her skills in digital storytelling to reach a new audience of young people.

Forbes participant, writer and festival creator Merrill Findlay, used the experience to investigate commonalities of rural festivals and document some of the processes and practicalities of Wirksworth Festival. She used these to help further develop the Kalari Lachlan River Arts Festival and started an excellent blog on rural festivals (http://ruralartsfestivals.wordpress.com/).

Arts OutWest’s Arts and Health Coordinator Christine McMillan introduced belly casting to Derbyshire with great success, working with teenage pregnant mothers who are in the care system.

Ongoing outcomes

This form of intense collaboration fostered strong, genuine levels of ongoing professional collaboration between the Australian artists and also between some of the artists and organisations or artists in the UK.

Some of these include:

  • Adam Deusien and Alison Plevey from physical theatre company Lingua Franca collaborating with sculptor Harrie Fasher and production designer Becky Russell on the stage production ‘Mighty’(2018)
  • Collaboration between performer Kim Deacon and video maker Christine Sweeney on Kim’s show about Henry Lawson.
  • Harrie Fasher’s return to the UK for a residency with a mentorship at Butley Mills foundry with artist and caster Laurence Edwards of Suffolk (2015) via a Windmill Trust Scholarhsip.
  • Adam Deusien’s return to Derbyshire work with dance company Derby Dance (Deda)
  • Sculptor Ken Hutchinson’s month long residency and mentorship with master stone mason and the National Trust stone tutor Richard Hickton (2013).
  • Forbes-based Australian writer, academic, festival creator Merrill Findlay presenting remotely to the ‘Geography of the Senses’ session at the 2014 Wirksworth Festival (via a short film made with assistance from Arts OutWest).
  • An ongoing relationship between a number of the artists and The Corridor Project after that first encounter and weekend spent there in 2013.
  • UK’s Adverse Camber (who we met in Derbyshire) touring their production ‘Dreaming the Night Field’ to Australia in 2019 and presenting workshops around the Central West as well as reconnecting with some of the Prepare to Exchange artists.
The Australian Pavilion Project: Exchanging the art of Central West New South Wales with Derbyshire, UK.

Strategic area: Creative Industries

Location: Workshop weekend: The Corridor Project near Cowra; Test workshops: regionally. Exchange to: Wirksworth, Derbyshire, UK   

When: 2013

Funded by: (Part 1 of the project) Prepare to Exchange was funded by the Australian Government through the Regional Arts Fund.

Partnering with: Derbyshire County Council and the Derbyshire Eco Centre with Wirksworth Festival Derbyshire.

Prepare to Exchange presenters: Arts Education consultant for Derbyshire County Council, Kim Johnston and dancer/choreographer Debi Hedderwick (from the UK); Mathilda Joubert.

Artists: Harrie Fasher, Adam Deusien, Alison Plevey, Christine Sweeney, Lanny MacKenzie, Christine McMillan, Ken Hutchinson, Kim Deacon, Aleshia Lonsdale, Tony Lonsdale, Nyree Reynolds, Bill Mosely, Genevieve Carroll, Graham Sattler, Becky Russell, Joy Engleman, Merrill Findlay, Dylan Gower.

Thanks also to: The Corridor Project

Images: Australian ‘Prepare to Exchange’, Arts OutWest; UK images Chris Webb.