Art and community growing together / The trail that develops a sense of belonging.
- Subhashini Maniam -
Sri Gurubhyo namaha ||
The path to being a full time artist and making a living out of it is a challenging one. Not everyone is lucky to establish and sustain a decent living. When I moved to Australia, I wanted to explore the possibilities of painting full time. The challenges of starting a life in a new country was overwhelming but I continued to take steps to know the local artist community and got involved in various art related activities.
One such event that I connected with was the Open Studio Arts Trail. It is organised by the local council to bring exposure to various artists living or working in the community. It is an annual event where the artists open their home studios and galleries to the public offering the community a chance to see the artists at work, participate in art activities and purchase directly from the artists.
The first art trail I attended was the City of Melville Open Studios in 2019. It was delightful to see artists work in their home environment and share their artistic processes. Some had demos and workshops as part of their activities for the trail. I was fascinated to see some very unique printing processes. Some of the artists from the neighbouring suburbs also joined them in this venture.
Over time I realised that various town councils did similar art trails far into the country side such as Margaret River & Peel region (100 - 200 kms from Perth city) mostly in spring. The scenic beauty of Western Australia attracted the public to not only experience the creative journey but also to plan short holidays.
With the advent of Covid, Western Australia closed its borders with strict guidelines. This forced me to delve into my artistic side. Once normalcy was restored, I came across a catalogue for Armadale Hills Open Studio Arts trail (https://armadalehillsartstrail.com). This location is about half an hour’s drive from Perth city and is set across a stunning natural hill environment. Accompanied by a few artist members from Saraswati Mahavidhyalaya (an Indian art school where I volunteer. www.smv.org.au) I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to showcase Indian art to the local community.
On meeting with artist Lynda Everitt at her studio, we were introduced to the Armadale Artists Society and she also stressed upon the benefits of becoming a member.
Armadale Hills Open Studio Arts trail has been running for seven years and has seen the participating artist numbers grow along with the visitors attending the trail. The Town council’s arts officer held regular meetings from June of this year to organise and support the artists to get ready for the arts trail in September. Fellow artist members volunteered in various roles from photography, designing brochures, managing promos in social media and so on. The Council also conducted workshop on how to promote one’s work on social media to educate new artists and set them up for success. Experienced artists who have been participating regularly gave insights into creating engaging experiences with visitors. Over all, there was a lot to learn and share.
Artist members Dr Saseedaran Anandan, Dr Sarasa Krishnan, Mrs Uma Kulaendra & I jonied together to showcase our work at SMV Art Sanctuary for Armadale hills Open Studios Arts Trail 2021 ( https://armadalehillsartstrail.com/smv-the-arts-sanctuary/). During the event that was held from 3rd to 12th September, artists opened their studios to public welcoming upto 400 visitors. The sentiment of developing together and supporting each other was strong.
Now looking back at the experience of being part of something so inspiring is elevating. The feeling of belonging to the local artist community, developing professional network and bonding as fellow human beings to help and support each other is rewarding.