In the hills behind Mullumbimby something unexpected has grown in the forest. An art movement. It began humbly as a result of a rather grand art studio that made visiting friend and occasional artist Mandy Nolan exclaim ‘Wow this would be an amazing gallery!’ A seed was planted and when the conditions are right that very studio morphs into Forest Art ‘The Biggest Little Show in the Universe’, an impromptu artistic happening that brings creatives crawling out from the undergrowth.
Forest Art is the brainchild of artists Brendan Kelly and Claire Yerbury. Nurtured with love, and with a vision to create a unique sensory experience beyond a traditional commercial gallery, Forest Art was conceived around 18 months ago when Brendan and Claire decided to ask a handful of their artistic friends to join them in a small party to show their work. It was successful, but the pair wanted to expand the experience, so they built a winding staircase through their forest to the gallery where you were greeted by a panda playing the musical saw. Performance art popped out of the shadows, along with sculpture, installations, video art, paintings and conversation. Lots and lots of conversation. And lots and lots of art!
With the third exhibition on the horizon, Forest Art has flourished, this time blooming a vibrant Blue, asking contributors to offer a work drawn, painted or constructed in this hue. The vision for the upcoming exhibition was to create a giant forest bower, where deep in the shadows is a treasure of the unusual, the challenging, the confrontational and the beautiful. And being Blue, part of the proceeds from sales will go to Beyond Blue. And it’s got lots of people coming up with innovative ways to participate.
‘We spoke to our friend who works with people in mental health and asked if they’d be into making origami butterflies. She loved the idea. We gave her a stack of blue paper and the next thing we knew she phoned us asking for more because they’d already run out! She said that one patient in particular was really benefitting from it because it was so therapeutic. Claire and I were over the moon when we heard that!’ said Brendan.
So how did this happen? Who are these people forging ahead with their Avante Garde grass roots gallery?
Brendan and Claire’s vision for Forest Art is echoed in the words Brendan heard from one of his mentors many moons ago: ‘You’re an artist. You’ve always been an artist, it’s just that you don’t know it yet.’ For artists, those established, and those still emerging, having a place to show your work is crucial. While there is a place for commercial and more mainstream galleries, there is a need for the excitement and innovation of an organic artistic happening – where many hands come together to create a sensory overload. This is an immersive experience. From the minute you arrive until the minute you leave, when you enter Forest Art you are somewhere else. It’s like you nibbled Alice’s mushroom, and stepped inside another world. But the portal door only opens for one night only.
Contributing artists for the upcoming show are: John McCormick, Steve Waller, Zion Stewart, Sarah Jane McGrath, Courtney Cook, Danika Cottrell, Hannah Massey, Mandy Nolan, Solveig Svendsen, Kim Brereton, Dianne Ingram, Charlotte Haywood/Ed Horne, Olivia Bradley, Justine Tasker, Lou Whittaker, Lindy Lynch, Brad Gould, Tim Adlide, Claire Douglas, Krista Fuller, Hamish McCormick, Andy McGlone, Astro, Stu and Amber, Heartworn Highway and Luke’s Sunset Cocktails.
To find out more about Forest Art, Friday 22 March: [email protected]