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April 23, 2021

The art of activism at Lismore Gallery

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Benny and the Angel of Bentley – Photo Eve Jeffery

Eve Jeffery

Last Friday evening it was standing room only at the Lismore Regional Gallery as the faithful gathered to pay homage to the art of activism for the opening of the exhibition Protests Songs: Artful Actions, a show that begins with activism from the 1960s through to the present day, and seeks to articulate the various ways in which creativity has helped to promote awareness of issues of the day.

Gallery Director Brett Adlington welcomed many of the exhibiting artists to the event and spoke of the recent local protest action.

‘Many might be thinking that this project is a recently conceived response on our behalf to the current political climates, including the recent Bentley Blockade’, he said. ‘But when exhibition curator Kezia Geddes started discussing this show with me, Barry O’Farrell was premier, Julia Gillard was prime minister, we had carbon pricing, and if you said the word “Bentley”, most of us here would add “Art Prize” after it.

‘What this exhibition is really seeking to do is to look at how creativity has long been used as a way to highlight various political issues.’

Activist, academic and educator Aidan Ricketts officially opened the show.

‘It’s fascinating coming in and looking at the incredible diversity of activist art we see here’, said Ricketts. ‘Covering indigenous people, HIV/AIDS, the environment, human rights and war. What that really reminded me was how much activism is absolutely woven into the fabric of our lives. It’s impossible to think of any social change that has happened in history that hasn’t really had its origins with activists.’

The exhibition covers the work of fine artists, photographers, filmmakers, performance artists and knitters and features many local works.

Protests Songs: Artful Actions continues until September 7.

~ Photos Eve Jeffery & David Lowe

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  1. I have long believed in my heart, that the Artists, Poets,Writers,Musicians,Actors,Dancers and Film-makers are the New Age Healers, the Spiritual Warriors and Godesses capable of encouraging the paradigm shift in consciousness so desperately required if we are to learn to live in harmony with this earth and each other.This idealistic view is being supported daily by the range of Artists and Arts Workers who are offering Principle rather than product in the out-pouring of their daily creative persuits. This exhibition of the Art of Activism at the Lismore Regional Gallery is not only an inspiring example of community concerns, it is a bell ringing loudly as a “Call to Arts” challenging the rampant greed and corruption which is undermining the holistic health and harmony of our very existence. I believe that the Arts are the Standard Bearers of the coming Revolution. Viva La ARTS !!

  2. I’m keen to get in and have a look!

    I wish I’d been on the gallery’s contact list for exhibiting artists… I’ve been venting quite a bit over the last few years, using art as my pressure cooker safety valve! :-):-)

  3. Yes! Spot on! I would have liked a little more historical context for Art Activism in the Northern Rivers – perhaps that is more evident at the exhibition? During the 1970’s when the ‘new settlers’ arrived here, there was a vibrant continuum of art, music, film, poetry and drama used in all forms of activism. I was a member of the Rainbow Players who performed at festivals, demonstrations and ‘events’ in the old Arts Halls that our forebears built in all the hamlets of this region. We did a radio play at 2NCR FM every week, called ‘Up the Creek’ – those days we were intent on changing building codes and preserving forests, particularly the last 400 acres of unlogged rainforest at Terania Creek. The same corporate behemoths, the same greedy morons. I minded the gate at Bentley and there are so many more of us now!


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