On Wednesday 29th November, Flying Arts Alliance hosted our first Art and Fine Wine Affair, as a fundraiser for our 500 Club, a donor circle to assist with special projects.
50 invited guests attended the current exhibition of Beautiful One Day, Fruit Salad the Next at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, to view the art while enjoying a ‘fine’ selection of reds and whites. Guests were treated to some entertaining and moving speeches by Chair, Prof. John O’Toole, Executive Officer, Kerryanne Farrer, and 2016 Queensland Regional Art Awards ‘Art for Life’ Major Award winner, Karen Stephens.
In its second year, the 500 Club membership has increased from 7 members in 2016 to 24 members in 2017. Current Members include:
Nikki Accornero, Shane Astbury, Sarah Barron (Board Director), Dr Graham & Judith Bell, Wendy Brooks, of Wendy Brooks + Partners, Bill Buckby, Michael Byrne QC & Tracy-Lynne Geysen, Peter & Geraldine Castleton, Prof. Glyn Davis, Marilyn Domenech, Nick & Dianne Eden, Peter & Louise Hickson, Bart Mead of JLL Mortgage, Sue Macaulay, Ari McCamley, Bob & Chesne Nason, Lee Nevison, Mary-Louise North (Board Director), John O’Toole (Chair of the Board), Kathy Schaefer (Board Director), Andy Stephanosa and Karen Stephens..
In 2017, the funds raised through the 500 Club will go directly to the ‘Art for Life’ major award of the Queensland Regional Art Awards.
Prof. John O’Toole (Chair of the Board): Opening Speech
I’d like to start by paying our deep respects to the indigenous guardians of this land we are standing on today, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and to their elders past, present and in the future, with a particular acknowledgment, from those of us whose ancestors came from elsewhere, of their stewardship of the arts, and the lead they continue to provide for us.
I’m here to tell you why you’re here. In case you don’t know – you can take your choice of any of these three reasons, or preferably all of them:
- To find out who Flying Arts are, if you’re a Queensland art lover who is either extremely young or has never left Brisbane in the last forty-seven years;
- To indulge your love of art with some of the cream of Queensland’s young and middle-career artists – here on my right;
- To feel your purse-strings loosening as we tell you about all the benefits for you and us if you are a member of our VIP or 500Club
The most immediate benefit for you is that your name will go into tonight’s draw for a genuine bottle of Grange Hermitage, which I’m told is a passable drop.
The longer-term benefits for you are all outlined in the club pack that our Board members and Staff are waiting to bestow on you.
And third and best is the glow of satisfaction you will get from knowing that in a real and tangible way you are keeping Queensland’s visual arts, our traditions and our innovations alive and healthy.
The benefits for us this year are that we can properly fund the Queensland Regional Art Award – and you’ll shortly hear how beneficial that is. Next year Queensland’s youth and young artists will benefit from your loosened wallet.
Now here’s our CEO, Kerryanne Farrer, to tell you more about Flying Arts and about tonight’s exhibition: Beautiful One Day, Fruit Salad the Next, which is an art show, not a description of last week’s elections.
Kerryanne Farrer (Executive Officer): Opening Speech
It’s my great privilege to be in the pilot’s seat of our little light “art” craft, Flying Arts Alliance. In terms of size we are small, but in terms of reputation in the visual arts sector in remote, rural and regional Queensland, Flying Arts is more akin to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner! We exist to connect with artists, educators and communities.
Established in 1971, by an artist, the inimitable Merv Moriarty, a man with a mad idea to get a pilot’s licence and take art to the bush. And He did – literally!
As flight has evolved since the Wright Brothers, so has Flying Arts since the halcyon days of Moriarty.
Today we continue to support the professional practice of individual artists, just like the ones behind the art works on show tonight, and to develop the creative capital of the communities in which they live and work. I could pick a hundred examples but one that comes to mind is the recently “Drawing with Determination” workshop delivered by a Flying Artist for the Julia Creek Art Group, which ranged in age from 7 to 70 – literally!
We assist educators to provide quality art experiences in classrooms and support them to mentor the next generation of young artists. Earlier this year, a small school of 6 students on the post cyclone devastated Hayman Island, still not open to tourists, was visited by a flying artist, who engaged primary students in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander perspectives, a curriculum imperative, through exploring the art of weaving.
We also deliver touring art exhibitions to a network of remote and regional galleries, from Texas on the southern border of NSW, to Cloncurry in the North West, and Atherton in the Far North and everywhere in between.
Tonight we are proud to present the work of the 19 talented artists, who, by happenstance, discovered relationships between their works. Over half of the exhibiting artists hail from regional Queensland, and all participated in our Exhibition Development Program, either in Cairns or Brisbane in 2017. Of the 30 or more in our annual schedule of programs delivered by Flying Arts, this program in particular, instructs participants in the art of proposing exhibitions of their work to increase their chance of selection by galleries. It is delivered by an experienced curator in an intensive weekend of workshops to design, plan and manage a solo or group exhibition. And the results speak for themselves!
And this is just the wing tip of what we do. In 2016, we held over 200 individual activities, for over 32,000 participants and attendees in 64 locations around the state.
I couldn’t be more proud of the work that our small team achieves in any one year, but we do need friends, like your good selves, to consider joining the the Flying arts 500 Club tonight, and becoming frequent flyers of, to assist us in continuing this inspiring work. Together we can encourage Queensland artist’s to not only believe, but see, that dreams can become reality, that regardless of age, background or location, it is possible to sustain a lifelong interest or career in the arts.
John O’Toole (Board Chair): Introduction to Karen Stephens
Like so many of Flying Arts’s initiatives over the last nearly fifty years, this exhibition has changed lives, not least for the award winners. Here to tell you about what it has done for her life already is last year’s Major Award winner, Karen Stephens. Karen represents everything that Flying Arts stands for: she was born and raised in Winton, the child of parents who are still out there battling to keep our rich country arts heritage alive after the terrible fire that destroyed their magnificent Art Gallery and Waltzing Matilda Centre. Karen now lives in Ipswich, where she painted the artwork that so enchanted our judges in the Colours of Queensland Award and exhibition, the mysterious, symbolic and very colourful painting Noogooraville. Ladies and Gentlemen: Karen Stephens.
Karen Stephens (Artist): Speech
This opportunity to be a guest speaker today is important to express the value of philanthropic donations to artists and how it is beneficial not only to individual professional development but the endless possibilities of where it can lead.
I was bowled over when I received the news that my one of my favourite paintings ‘Noogooraville’ (2015) was chosen as the Major Prize Winner of the 2016 Queensland Regional Art Awards – Colours of Queensland and, that my painting would tour Queensland galleries and be accessible to people in Brisbane and the wider areas of Queensland. The generous prize money of $10,000 would allow me to develop my professional Fine Arts practice and stimulate my career.
Being a professional artist is challenging – it’s a slippery slope that requires devoted time and energy. A regional or remote artist has further challenges – one being distance – which is not only physical – the distance can also be believed to be – cultural and social. I understand first-hand what these challenges are because I am from the remote town of Winton – some 1500km from Brisbane.
Even to source a tube of paint can take some serious patience, perseverance and creative thinking! Working in 40 something degrees all year round is not easy either. But we do it and we find a way. While the stories these adventures create are priceless and internet reduces some distance – freight, fuel or physical travel comes at a cost.
The Flying Arts Alliance is a magnificent organisation that connects people through the Arts. The longevity and success of this alliance – 46 years – means that there is a definite need for this service. Until you have experienced remoteness or distance you will never know the feeling that this connection can give to someone who genuinely wants to succeed in their chosen career – it has been invaluable to me.
The value of a monetary prize can be lifechanging to a regional or remote artist’s career –
- It gives freedom that was not previously there
- It makes us visible and our work visible
- It creates hope, excitement or the capacity to complete a goal.
- It creates opportunity and allows us to network further afield
I can speak personally of how the QRAA prize money has impacted my career. In the last 12 months
- I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours to refine my painting discipline and love of landscape painting.
- I have exhibited four solo exhibitions of new works in recognised Brisbane art galleries.
- I produced new work during a two-week artist residency in Lightning Ridge, remote NSW.
The generous monetary resources from the QRAA prize has boosted my professional practice and two highlights have also occurred this year –
I was excited to receive news that one of my paintings – inspired by the Winton landscape – was selected as a finalist in the 2017 Elaine Birmingham – National Prize for Watercolour in Landscape painting. I cannot describe what it felt like to be an emerging artist and see my little Winton landscape amongst the works of professional long-term career artists in that gallery.
I have also been accepted to undertake an artist in residency programme next year at the Margaret Olley Centre, Tweed Regional Gallery NSW.
I am forever grateful to those who sponsor the arts. Because art has no boundaries it can travel and reach people where other fields simply cannot.
I want to also thank the Flying Arts Alliance who support, encourage and develop the rich and diverse culture of Queensland.
John O’Toole (Board Chair): Closing remarks
So if you do feel you can support this work, and have the means – in other words $500 now and as long as you can afford it annually – please join our 500Club… and that bottle of Grange could well be yours! Sign before 6.45 and your name will be in the draw!
However, that might be a dip too deep for some pockets, and so we will welcome any donation – we ain’t proud. Though you won’t go into the draw for the Grange, we are grateful you’ve come to listen to us, and we hope you are enjoying the fine wine and food you’re drinking now. Our staff and board members will be only too willing to relieve you of whatever you would like to pledge, and you can find the benefits for you in the pack they will hand you…
And In case you’re not sure who is us and who is you, can I ask all the Staff and Board members to raise their pack and wave it around? See, there are plenty of us around… you’re almost surrounded!
And if you really can’t afford any substantial donation at all, there is one of us with a hat or a bucket at the door, to drop your loose notes in as you leave. As the old rhyme has it: If you can’t spare a shilling then a penny will do and if you can’t spare a penny then God Bless You!
Enjoy the food; the bar is open until 7.00 – and of course the exhibition. The Draw takes place at 6.45. Finally, thanks to this lovely home of ours, the Judy, for hosting the exhibition and this event; thanks to the amazing and totally dedicated staff who keep Flying Arts flying, and in particular our own national treasure and financial wiz Andy Stephanos, whose idea it was, and whose first generous donation kicked off the 500 Club. And most of all, thank you all so much for coming.