Talking Points Paper
(written by Jessica Blythe for inaugural meeting of Tallebudgera Valley arts group/club/collective)

An artist is “someone who does art” and that is all of us in this group.  We are a company of equals and every artist from the valley is welcome. None of us have reached our full potential as artists but we have all gained wisdom along the way – some more than others – but we all have something to share either as wisdom of experience or as practical assistance such as carrying someone’s basket or setting up the tent.
This was my idea, but only as the first initiative. I will take executive decisions on everything that the group is not ready to decide upon for the first year.  I’m hoping everyone feels they have a say and can participate in decisions. After a year, we should have a cohesive group and someone else can politely take executive decision-making from me.
Artists of the group/club/collective may come and go as they please. There are no joining fees and money will only be associated with the costs of projects we all agree upon, such as a joint gallery exhibition or publication or paying special guests.
My thoughts are long range. I am concerned that the valley is changing rapidly and no one is here to document it for future generations. Every new house built in the valley means land is cleared, wildlife pushed further to the margins through noise, pressure from pets and Council intrusion into wild areas.  Even now, we do not know what we’ve already lost because we can’t see or experience it anymore. For example, do we still have little green frogs climbing up our windows in the wet season? I don’t. The pressures for irreversible change are enormous. Myrtle Rust will decimate every Lilly Pilly in the valley. Climate change’s droughts and floods will change watercourses, kill trees and change food sources for wild animals. Each year the pressure on Council to open up land for housing grows. With the stroke of a pen, we could have an urban housing estate somewhere in this valley.
I’m not suggesting everything should stay the same, I’m saying in the artworld, who is documenting the world we know now for future generations? We learn a great deal about Australia’s early history from artists of the Colonial days, but who’s documenting our life story now? That is what has drawn me to Realism in my art practice. I want my art to be about where I live and what I think about that, not whether I can paint blue splodges next to orange ones on huge canvases. I want to remind people that beautiful wildlife gems such as glowworms and fireflies live in our backyards and not just in tourist spots such as the Nunimbah caves. And that’s why I hope you will join me doing plein aire/outdoor paintings because they capture the essence of the fleeting moments of nature’s brilliance much more than technically perfect studio works (although both are valuable).
We live in the buffer zone to the World Heritage Listed Tweed Valley.  This is a privilege which our Council needs to be reminded of when they give permission for a tourist attraction for thousands of visitors to the Garden project on Connection Road or the Extreme Sports centre down Mt Cougal Road way or the Skywalk and Cable car down Springbrook escarpment.  Think about the number of cars involved and parking spaces required by Council. And once these wild places are gone, once they are lost, they are lost forever.
But think also of the cultural history – of the Araluen Rope tree chopped down recently. Who painted a picture of how wonderful it was to use?  Who painted a picture of the old mandarin tree moved for expansion of the Syndicate Road intersection? It doesn’t matter if these places are drawn by a child or beginner artist or a professional.  The art is what matters most…that someone loved it enough to spend time with its essence and witnessed the life force for others to experience it through art. The other thing that is important is to share these experiences with others (through publications and exhibitions perhaps).
Things you will learn about plein aire:

  • How to control your body so you can devote up to 4 hours away from home comforts. (eg water, food, toilet needs  and preparing for the weather)
  • How to read the best time to capture the light for your painting theme or focus (eg  time of day, seasonal changes, after the slashing, during drought)
  • How to protect yourself from misadventure (eg. Mozzie, tick or leech bites, falls, getting lost)
  • How to finish a painting when you forget to bring something (paint colour, eraser, hat, brushes)
  • How to keep records of time/place of painting for future reference.


So this is what I’d like to see happen for this group (all open for discussion):

  • a. Three-monthly focus meetings to share skills, plan upcoming projects and decide on calendar of events for the group.  (1-2 hours)
  • b. Outdoor art adventures in big groups once a month within the public parks in the valley (2-4 hour sessions)
    Small Independent group meetings on private land (after permission is granted) with reports back to the larger group.
  • c. Individual Participants of the group taking the lead on hosting events such as painting days, gallery events, workshops etc
  • d. Courteous and respectful interactions with landowners, wildlife and cultural life of the valley.
  • e. Personal Safety precautions taken at all times at all gatherings, large and small.
  • f. Constant showings of artwork to the collective wisdom of the group for comments and positive suggestions for technical improvement.
  • g. Regular professional style gallery exhibitions to the public which include artist talks, artwork sales and raising awareness of the awesome treasures of the valley.
  • h. Workshops to improve technical art skills and knowledge of the art industry.
  • i. Regular public exhibitions to fundraise for our projects and/or for individual sales.

Tasks for the day
Fill out a card for ‘in case of emergency’ and ‘what you want’ and ‘what you can offer’
Demonstration of plein aire painting/drawing (horizons, form, light, detail form, light)
Show Tool Kit/Porchade baggage required (seating, easel, what to paint on, how and with what)
Personal Safety Rules and what to carry (medical kit, phone, map, etc.)
How to seek assistance of the Spirit of Place to find your spot, settle and choose the theme for your painting.

We need:
A Facebook Friend to keep postings on Tallebudgera Residents Page updated
A photographer to upload photos and keep the archive.
A video documentary maker to document the workings and outputs of the group so we can make Youtube videos and promote our paintings and our valley.
Workshop contact/Facilitator (connect tutor with group, manage funds, setup venue etc)

For each meeting, if there’s no park shed, there will be a tent available for weather protection, drying and display of day’s work, refreshments and informal discussion afterwards.
A lot of information will be passed on at the start of sessions. Keep that in mind if you are in danger of being late.
Contact: Jessica Blythe

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