I live in Ballarat, a regional town of Victoria, Australia and I must say that I am starting to love living here – as a an artist. I did the ‘tree change’ from Melbourne to Ballarat in 2000, because I love the history here, and the property I live on is beautiful. However, not much was happening in the ‘art’ scene at the time – but in the last few years that has been changing rapidly!
In recent years artists in Ballarat have stood up to be counted – Facebook pages have been launched, art groups have been funded, artist registries have been created and council committees have been re-invigorated!
It has been amazing!
The most recent initiative, a public art exhibition, funded by the City of Ballarat, via the City of Ballarat Public Art Committee (PAAC) entitled What Lies Beneath officially opened on March 28th to a huge crowd of art enthusiasts. The exhibition features images from eighteen artists (including myself) printed on a commercial product – Earth Wrap, a non-slip aluminium backed pavement product normally used for commercial signage or safety applications. This exhibition is the first time it is being used in a public art context.
Julie Collins, Ballarat Public Art Co-Ordinator and the curator of the show was inspired by an existing public art piece in Police Lane and Alfred Deakin Place entitled The Goanna Totem designed by Dianna Nikkleson. The goanna image is impressed into the pavement and recalls the indigenous history of Ballarat. The participating artists in What Lies Beneath were asked to create an image that explore what lies beneath the surface – physical or metaphysical. The response from participating artists was diverse – from the literal presence of minerals, water or archaeological fragments beneath the surface through to the more abstract notions of listening to the Earth.
Another new initiative present in this exhibition is the presence of QR codes with each image, allowing an interactive experience for the viewer who can scan the QR code with their smart phone and learn more about each individual artist.
As an exhibition that incorporates these original notions into the viewers experience, it is well worth checking out if you in or near or visiting Ballarat. It is at the Backyard Gallery in Alfred Deakin Place until 5th May 2013.