Positive feedback for Wedderburn Open Air Gallery

Published on 30 November 2017

The Wedderburn community has responded positively to a proposal to develop an open air gallery in the town.

A community meeting held earlier this month saw almost 30 people attend, including the Wedderburn Open Air Gallery Project working group and Regional Arts Victoria Creative Arts Facilitator Kim Bennett.

The group put forward their thoughts about the project, with the agreement to move ahead with the Open Air Gallery Project with strong community support.

Working group Chair Councillor Gavan Holt said it was good to see a number of community members attend the meeting and provide their feedback.

“What impressed me most was that it was a diverse group in attendance with a diverse range of views,” Cr Holt said.

“A wide range of views was canvassed from everyone present at the meeting and I think there was certainly enthusiasm for the project.”

The Wedderburn Open Air Gallery Project will encompass a series of outdoor murals located around Wedderburn to form the open air gallery. It is envisaged the murals will follow a common theme that showcases Wedderburn and provides a point of difference for visitors to explore the town.

The idea for the project originated from local artist Ross Currie, who approached Wedderburn Tourism regarding developing murals around Wedderburn. The working group was formed and a meeting held with key stakeholders, including Regional Arts Victoria, Regional Development Victoria and Loddon Shire Council.

Mr Currie said the meeting went extremely well and was “very positive”, adding that he first got the idea for the open air gallery during a visit to Tasmania a number of years ago. 

“I first brought up the idea 14 years ago when I arrived in Wedderburn, however, more recently I brought it up again.

“There has been a lot of talk around town about it, including talking to people at the shops and keeping up the conversation,” he said.

“There has been a very positive community reception to the project idea and a lot of support. It’s great to see the project gain momentum within the community.”

Loddon Arts members Sheilah Gaines and Denise Nichols both voiced their support for the project.

“I think it’s a good idea, it will help encourage visitors to stay in town,” Mrs Gaines said.

“It will also encourage people to look at local art in the area – we have a lot of artistic talent here,” Mrs Nichols added.

“We both like the idea of the interactive side of it. People are very interactive nowadays with their phones. The more we can encourage people to stop in the town the better.”

Mrs Gaines and Mrs Nichols agreed that the meeting was very positive.

“I think it was a good chance to explain to the community about the project. Ross is to be commended,” Mrs Gaines said. 

“He has done so much research into the project and has spoken to people that have completed a similar project in Benalla and elsewhere too.”

Cr Holt said the working group would be looking to external resources for funding for the project, adding that the project also had educational value.

“There are two aspects to this educational component,” Cr Holt added.

“Number one, we would be looking to attract high-quality artists, this will enable local artists to learn from them. These artists may also go into our local schools and provide an educational component of the project to students.

“Secondly, the project could also be an opportunity for the members of Loddon Arts to take advantage and to interact and learn from artists.”

Cr Holt added that the project could have economic benefits for Wedderburn.

“One of the focuses of Loddon Shire Council, in order to grow our local economies, is we need to make our towns more attractive and vibrant. We want people from the more than 1300 vehicles that travel through Wedderburn each day to stop in our town.

“Coupled with additional plans that are happening in our town, such as the Jacka Park sculptures and the streetscape improvement project, we are just trying to make Wedderburn a more vibrant place.”

The working group will now reconvene to continue moving forward with the Wedderburn Open Air Gallery project.

For more information about the project contact Cr Gavan Holt on 0408 943 008 or Robyn Vella on 5494 1233.