WILD DOGS from DOWN UNDER
2006 – 2008
‘Wild Dogs from Down Under toured with their exhibition Gippsland to…
West Gippsland Arts Centre, Warragul
Meeniyan Art Gallery, Meeniyan
Burrinja Gallery, Upwey
Parliament House, Queen’s Hall Melbourne
Jiu Jiang China
Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale
Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell
This is a wrap up of a most exciting arts project that I have thoroughly enjoyed coordinating over the last two and a half years… ‘The Wild Dogs from Down Under’, written for a presentation to the Baw Baw Shire Council and various sponsors.
This amazing project began as a small seed (as many projects do). In 2005 I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the Gippsland Community Leadership Program, GCLP. During that year my mind was opened up and stimulated to think about ‘Gippsland’ and ‘my place’ within the community.
The GCLP program encouraged me to initiate a community project that would embrace my passion, benefit my community and challenge my leadership skills – so that was where my mind was at when I decided to gather a select group of artists, create work, and tour state wide and internationally to our sister city, Jiu Jiang in China.
I spoke openly about the idea with fellow artist Leonie Ryan and Baw Baw Shire Council’s Arts & Cultural Officer who both agreed that it would be an exciting opportunity for the ‘Arts’ and for the ‘Community’ as we did not have a public gallery in the shire. ‘Touring’ a body of work would inspire exposure, publicity and cultural interaction. It would provide a meaningful experience to the artists who would work together and travel as a team.
The basic concept had merit; Leonie and I registered the name the very next day ‘Wild Dogs from Down Under’ which is our International Address – Warragul, Australia.
We relied on our instinct and advice from the Baw Baw Shire Council when we invited artists Eileen Harrison, Laurie Collins, Jenny Murray-Jones and Gary Miles to come on board which they did. We felt the group should reflect and represent our own community and include mixed Cultural Heritage, Male and Female Artists of various ages with diverse styles and mediums.
We were all excited about the concept of creating a major touring exhibition and we all agreed that we would base our work on ‘Gippsland’, our place – Our passion for ‘Gippsland’ was the common thread within our diverse group. We felt inspired to express our love of ‘Gippsland’ through Art and proud to tour with ‘Gippsland’ as ambassadors. It has been an honour to represent our Region and share this experience with other communities including Warragul’s sister city Jiu Jiang in China – where we initiated the first Cultural Exchange and crossed the language barrier through Art.
‘Gippsland’ on tour and the Wild Dog artists have been exposed to a wide variety of Communities, Environments and Situations. The touring exhibition was officially opened for the first time at the West Gippsland Arts Centre in Warragul by past Mayor, Mr. Ian Clark. More than 300 members of our own community came along to celebrate that night and we completely filled the Fountain Room, it was wonderful to feel their own excitement and interest.
Since, ‘Gippsland’ has been hosted at the Meeniyan Art Gallery in the Shire of South Gippsland, Burrinja in Upwey and Parliament House in Melbourne where it was officially opened by Mr. Ted Baillieu – Leader of the Opposition & Shadow Minister for the Arts. We were overjoyed that the Lord Mayor of Melbourne John So attended and even offered assistance through his office if we required. The ‘Official Welcome Reception’ in Jiu Jiang China was overwhelming. The Mayor Ms Wang Ping hosted an official Reception Ceremony for the Wild Dog artists and the Baw Baw Shire Council delegation. Mr. Christopher Wright, Senior Trade Commissioner & Deputy General of Austrade in Shanghai flew to Jiu Jiang to meet the Wild Dogs and to view ‘Gippsland’. Mr. Chen Anzhong – Secretary of Jiu Jiang Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China also visited the exhibition and was introduced to the artists.
Initial plans were to end the tour when we arrived back from China but due to popular demand, we have been asked to exhibit at the Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale and the Latrobe Regional Gallery in Morwell before we officially and finally do complete our tour with a Grand Finale back in Warragul in March next year – which extended this project to two and a half years…
The ‘Wild Dogs from Down Under’ tour has been predominantly funded by the Individual Artists, with very generous support both financial and in kind from a number of Sponsors, including our Major Sponsor and Supporter – The Baw Baw Shire Council.
I personally initiated this project (seeded the idea) and so have happily embraced the responsibility that has come with it as a Coordinator and fully immersed myself in the Project to ensure its success and it is hard to quantify the cost of something like this as hundreds of hours have been absorbed by it and hundreds of telephone calls have been made.
Each Artist has created a magnificent body of work and generously given so much of their time installing ‘Gippsland’ in each location, representing ‘Gippsland’ and attending the numerous community engagements whenever required. We have taken the time out of our own studios to do this and put petrol in our own cars to do so. Each artist has made an enormous financial and emotional commitment to create, exhibit, tour and inspire others (as a group, it has cost us approximately $60,000). The enormity and success of this project required the support of a number of people and organizations (listed below).
Our own community and region have been regularly exposed to updates about ‘Gippsland’ on tour and the Wild Dog Artists through many generous editorials written by the Warragul Gazette and Maree Wallace, editor of Baw Baw Country. Both Maree and the Gazette have been following our progress and supported this project right from the very beginning. A variety of Communities outside our Region became aware of ‘The Wild Dogs from Down Under’ on tour through media, promotions and advertising provided by the host Galleries.
In JiuJiang, we made it onto the front page of 5 different papers in one week and were interviewed by television twice! The community response in China was overwhelming – we were treated like pop stars! As you can imagine, the Wild Dog project has created thousands of dollars worth of media coverage and through this has promoted Gippsland, the individual Artists and the Baw Baw Shire in a very positive light. We have been seen as a team, working together, representing ‘our place’ and reaching out to others.
The Wild Dogs from Down Under were awarded with the Arts Business RAVE Award which was presented at Lakes Entrance in May this year due to the connections and links we have made to so many people, businesses and organizations.
We are still in the process of touring but we can already feel the positive impact that we have made along the way. Through this project, we have connected to Local, State, Federal and International Government, Businesses, Organizations and Individuals. We have built an impressive Contact List and established Networks throughout Gippsland and in China.
We have rekindled and strengthened the relationship with our sister city Jiu Jiang and have been promised by Mayor Ms Wang Ping that a delegation of artists accompanied by the Mayor herself will fulfil their part of the Cultural Exchange to the Baw Baw Shire in the not too distant future. This will in turn, create the opportunity for our own community to welcome and embrace another.
List of Acknowledgements follow:-
The Baw Baw Shire Council have supported this project financially and emotionally from the very outset; believing in the artists, the work and the concept of the overall project. They will officially manage the Cultural Exchange with sister city Jiujiang and will provide a delegation to travel with the artists to present the exhibition of ‘Gippsland’. Baw Baw Shire Council has also financially contributed to assist artists Leonie Ryan and Laurie Collins by means of pre-purchasing a piece of work from each artist! This will provide the artists with the funds to travel with the work as per the ‘Artist Supporter’ program. Paul James Design created the catalogue, the website, invitations and the postcards, providing the group with innovative tools to promote and present the exhibition, the artists and the project. Michelle Dunn generously gave her time and creativity to write and edit the project details and artists statements that feature in the catalogue on the website. Maree Wallace editor of Baw Baw Country has been a supporter and promoted the Wild Dogs from Down Under on numerous occasions by way of editorials and promotion. Ingrid Thomas gippslandartists.com has also been very generous in promoting our project. Wild Dog Winery supports this project and has created a very special Shiraz and Chardonnay labeled ‘Wild Dogs from Down Under’ and from each bottle sold, $1 is donated back into the Wild Dog project. You can purchase this wine from Wild Dog Winery and another supporter, The Courthouse Cellars, Warragul. Tarago River Cheese supports this project and have provided mouth-watering ‘Shadows of Blue’ for all to enjoy at each exhibition opening. Des Dillon provided financial support to assist in the production of the 5 minute DVD produced to give an insight into the concept of the project and the individual artists. The DVD was filmed and edited by Magyar Smith Productions. Logos Unlimited printed the Wild Dogs from Down Under t-shirts which have made a huge impact on the promotion of the group – logo designed by artist Jenny Murray-Jones. The Warragul Gazette have followed the Wild Dog story from the very beginning and have provided the group with professional photography, editorial write ups and community awareness. West Gippsland Arts Centre Warragul supported this project and provided the space, the ‘Fountain Room’ where the exhibition ‘Gippsland’ was officially ‘Opened’ for the first time by Mayor Cr. Ian Clark and well-known local business person Graham Stapleton. The opening was a huge success with more than 300 people attending. Stage Door provided catering and went out of their way to assist the artists throughout the exhibition period. Meeniyan Art Gallery hosted the exhibition during January 2007. Director Meg Viney coordinated the ‘Opening’ and ‘Artist Talk’; sponsored by Meeniyan Art Gallery and the Shire of South Gippsland. Burrinja Gallery hosted the exhibition during Feb / March 2007. Director Ross Furnell and Indigenous Collection Programs Manager Nicholas Boseley were very enthusiastic about the work and coordinated ‘Artist Talks’ on a variety of weekends during the exhibition. Burrinja Gallery, Wild Dog Winery and Tarago River Cheese sponsored the ‘Opening’. International Power / Mitsui Loy Yang B has confirmed that they will financially support artists Eileen Harrison and Jenny Murray-Jones by means of pre-purchasing a painting from each artist! This will provide the artists with the funds to travel with the work and International Power/Mitsui Loy Yang B will receive the work at the end of the tour as per the ‘Artist Supporter’ program. Latrobe Regional Gallery generously donated the use of their International Touring Crates that will safely house the work while it is in transit via sea. Angela Betheras Consultancy is managing the packing, shipping and customs requirements of the work during its overseas tour. Multiplex Capital sponsored the cost of the Art Partitions that the group was required to install in Queen’s Hall, Parliament House for their exhibition in the first week of May 2007. The partitions were erected with assistance provided by the Rotary Club of Warragul. The catering on this special night has been generously sponsored by the Baw Baw Shire Council and MP Gary Blackwood, Member for Narracan who also supported this project and communicated with the Parliament of Victoria to exhibit this work in Queens Hall and Ted Baillieu MLA, Leader of the Opposition & Shadow Minister for the Arts who officially ‘Opened’ the night on1st May 2007. We were overjoyed to meet Lord Mayor of Melbourne John So when he came to the opening at Parliament House accompanied by Lady Mayoress Wendy Cheng! Warragul Hire & Drive has generously offered to loan a truck to transport the exhibition to and from the shipping port in Melbourne. Oamps Insurance Brokers Warragul have generously donated financial sponsorship to assist the project and have been a big help in sourcing the necessary insurance required for the journey. Peter & Lois Juratowitch created a slide show of JiuJiang and prepared the artists with very helpful tips and advice which came into great use – thank you! The JiuJiang Municipal People’s Government and Ms Wang Ping who embraced us and provided us with interpreters, publicity and the opportunity and means to meet the artists of JiuJiang. The S&N International Hotel in JiuJiang who provided a welcoming and warm service, also hosting a very special evening with Ms Betty Yang!
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
The Wild Dogs from Down Under were awarded with the Arts Business RAVE Award which was presented on the 5th May 2007 in Lakes Entrance.
The Gippsland Series by Kerrie Warren features below – collected by McKenzie Allen Lawyers and the Government of Jiu Jiang China