Gippsland’s Creative Harvest festival January 2022 – growing from strength to strength

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Did you buy some indoor plants over the last couple of years? Maybe you planted out a window box with a few herbs for your pandemic cooking sessions?  Perhaps you got the kids out into the backyard and started a no-dig garden. Not for nothing, did garden centres sell out of seedling and potting mix in early 2020.

The Covid pandemic has highlighted the tenuous nature of our food systems, prompting many people to invest in growing some of their own food. Whether your harvest was small or grand, there’s no denying the simple joy of eating something you’ve grown.

If that has left you hungry for more, Creative Harvest Festival (January 22nd  & 23rd ) could be the weekend event you’re looking for. Now in its fifth year, the group behind the event – Baw Baw Sustainability Network – are hoping to top last year’s record-breaking number of attendees, and they’ve pulled out all the stops to get you there.

There are 15 gardens open to visitors, from small suburban backyards to larger family-run farms. But it’s not all about growing your own food. The weekend also brings together more than 30 local artists and producers across a number of locations, showcasing their work and practice. Because as we also all learnt over the last couple of years to tap into our own creativity, when we’re not buried under the day-to-day busyness of commuting, working and socialising.

Creative HarvestGIVEAWAY

To celebrate the launch of Creative Harvest 2022 – the first weekend pass ticket purchases, will receive a tote bag designed by Helen Timbury Design valued at $30.


Creative Harvest Committee Chair, Wendy Savage sums things up perfectly.

Making our event more accessible to broader communities is a celebration of connectedness and creativity in all forms. It is fundamental to our wellbeing, especially in these uncertain times, and it is wonderful to see how a day out in the garden can inspire and create positive change.

So, here’s a taste of just some of the growers, makers and producers featured across the weekend.

  • AgriSolutions will be on hand to help gardeners get the most out of their soil and composting with their targeted approach to soil health management.
  • Join Come Fly With Me Beekeeping with their hives at Green Hills Farm in Yarragon South and learn what bee colonies have to teach us if only we pay attention.
  • Green Hills Farm produces grass-fed beef and garlic, as well as an orchard and vegetable plot that supplies local cafes & restaurants.
  • Based at the Butler Garden in Warragul, print-maker Helen Timbury will be displaying her work which celebrates the Australian landscape in all its wild, natural beauty.
  • Paul Stafford, self-taught tree craver and chainsaw sculptor will be on hand at Paul & Maureen’s Patch in Warragul, along with Kouark Wines and their wild-ferment pinot noir.
  • In Neerim South, you’ll find Kay Lancashire and her permaculture garden creating all manner of jewellery and wearable art, inspired by the natural shapes and textures she finds in her garden.

Children 17 and under are free and what better way to encourage the next generation of gardeners to get their hands dirty. There are plenty of treats and refreshments to keep you going throughout the day.


WHAT: Creative Harvest
WHERE: Various locations across West Gippsland
WHEN: Saturday & Sunday 22-23 January 10am-4pm

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong and Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Conjuring happy dances for makers – Sarah Jane Jewellery

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

The health pandemic resulted in the cancellation of markets and the closure of retailers everywhere. This hasn’t just been devastating for businesses, but also for those who showcase their works and products within these spaces.

According to teacher and maker Sarah Johnson, however, there is still a multitude of ways consumers can support artists and creators. One half of the creative duo that is Sarah Jane Jewellery, the Gippsland resident says supporting small businesses isn’t just about making purchases.

‘We know that everyone is struggling at the moment, whether it be mentally or financially,’ Sarah says. ‘Small businesses thrive on word of mouth referrals and feedback and sharing or liking of social media posts. Any sales are an added bonus and let’s be honest, always welcome. When you make a purchase from a small business, it makes our heart happy and we do a little happy dance!’

Sarah and her friend of 15 years Jane Irwin have lived in Gippsland their entire lives. As teachers, they say they are grateful to live in a region that is not too far from the city and which boasts premium services and programs catered specifically for children.

‘We are blessed,’ Jane says. While the ladies spend most of their days in the classroom (COVID life notwithstanding), they say they have always enjoyed dabbling in arts and craft ventures – including painting classes, workshops and cooking lessons. But it was during a period of family leave that the pair decided to take this dabbling to the next stage.

‘We began designing pieces by hand, painting every individual wooden bead in addition to hand-rolling each clay bead. We have retired our hand-painted pieces now, (but) we still roll all of our clay jewellery by hand, fingerprints and all,’ Sarah explains.

The current range includes necklaces made from a variety of mediums including clay, felt, wood and silicone, as well as earrings, lanyards, key-rings and DIY kits, with new pieces added regularly – including works for mini fashionistas.

‘We first began our business predominantly through local markets. After we started to create a little interest amongst the locals, we began an online store,’ she says. ‘Seven years later, we are blessed to have our work featured in local galleries and stores across Australia, in addition to being listed on various online platforms.’

As is the case with all artists during this time, there’s no denying Sarah Jane Jewellery has faced its fair share of trials.

‘The biggest challenge is definitely time constraints,’ Sarah says. ‘We have had to make the change to almost solely selling online, so we have had to photograph our entire stock for online stores, keeping up with quantities, orders, enquiries, making and creating, and post office runs while also working full time, engaging our classes in online learning and also just being mums. We have also experienced delays with postage, ordering supplies, sourcing supplies – the list goes on.’

That being said, Sarah says there were some positives associated with the pandemic due to people being confined to isolation. ‘In a ‘normal’ world, we would be attending regular markets and any online sales would be a bonus,’ she says.

But our online business drastically increased throughout the pandemic. We hope that our online sales continue to flourish, with the support of local businesses and online platforms such as One Hour Out, who have enabled small businesses to continue trading during this time.

As well as managing their own side hustle, Sarah and Jane serve in a volunteer capacity on the Gippsland Creators Collective, which operates the largest market in the region.

‘We would love to get back to the market scene,’ Sarah says. ‘We are currently in the process of organising a Creators Collective Christmas Market in Gippsland but, understandably, in a pandemic world, there are many hoops to jump through and boxes to tick to see any large scale events come to life.’

As COVID continues to create endless obstacles for those in the arts industry, they will continue sourcing motivation from their love of making and from connecting with their beloved community. Sarah says. ‘While jewellery making can be relaxing at times, it is also time-consuming. For us, we really value the networking and friendships we have made along the way.’


WHAT: Sarah Jane Jewellery

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

$50 million Shepparton Art Museum finally unveiled

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

The time has finally arrived. The state-of-the-art Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) is set to open this month following multiple delays due to the COVID pandemic.

Dubbed a landmark cultural destination, the $50 million awe-inspiring museum has been designed by internationally renowned architects Denton Corker Marshall. The design was unanimously selected from an architectural competition in 2017 and endorsed by the Greater Shepparton City Council.

According to Denton Corker Marshall founding director John Denton, SAM represents an important cultural contribution to a regional city.

‘Sitting between the lake and the main road into town from Melbourne, it presents a strikingly bold signal – a new contemporary building added to the fabric of the city,’ he says.

The structure is designed to act as a ‘live’ building, the space is characterised by simplicity and clarity, with every surface presenting an opportunity for display, event or installation.

Conceived as a land sculpture immersed into the surrounding landscape, the museum is the tallest building in Shepparton and acts as a beacon in the town’s low, flat topography.

The museum houses over 4,000 artworks, four main gallery spaces including a dedicated Kids Space, Visitors’ Information Centre, Kaiela Arts Aboriginal community arts centre, outdoor amphitheatre and Art Hill, as well as a cafe and 150-person event space and terrace.

‘The building is about hope and aspiration, with a range of welcoming spaces and places designed to invite all members of the public to meet, enjoy, and call their own through arts and culture,’ SAM artistic director and CEO Rebecca Coates says.

‘There’s a play of theatre, performance and comfortable reflection with natural light and views to the landscape connecting people to context and landscape.’

SAM only recently transitioned from working under the council to operating as a not-for-profit independent model.

It was also during this time that the museum started moving into the newly-constructed building. Nestled upon the banks of Victoria Park Lake, the museum was to open earlier this year had it not been for the extended lockdowns.

‘It’s been very challenging this year,’ Rebecca says. ‘It’s meant we’ve had to reschedule, rethink, and look at timelines. But all-in-all, given what’s happening in other sectors, it could be so much worse.’

One of Australia’s leading art museums, SAM is renowned for its significant connection to ceramics as well as indigenous artists and works. Located in a regional town with a rich multicultural landscape, the museum serves to further the town’s flourishing community through welcoming, inclusive and engaging spaces for all.

The new museum’s inaugural suite of exhibitions will feature works by emerging and established Australian artists, spanning sculpture, painting, video, photography, ceramics and installation. It is also set to showcase Australia’s most significant collection of south-east Australian Aboriginal art, presented alongside a dynamic lineup of world premiere Australian exclusives and commissions celebrating artists from across Australia and around the world.

‘SAM holds a special place in the hearts of Australians, presenting work by some of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, locating their work within a global context,’ Rebecca says.

‘These first exhibitions speak to our unique people and place and acknowledge and celebrate our local Yorta Yorta people and shared culture.

‘This is the most significant and exciting moment in SAM’s history as an organisation. I look forward to sharing this new chapter that will build on its past legacy and create a new vision for the future.’


WHAT: Shepparton Art Museum opening
WHEN: Saturday, November 20

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Collection of significant Aboriginal objects digitised at Hamilton Gallery

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

The largest and oldest collection of Australian Aboriginal objects on Gunditjmara Country are set to become digitised as part of a significant cultural project at Hamilton Gallery.

The project is being led by Gunditjmara woman Denise Lovett, who boasts a strong background in Aboriginal heritage management and protection.

Having worked with the Gallery team for the past three months as their Aboriginal Digitisation Support Officer, Denise has analysed almost 100 works within the gallery collection, with a specific focus on Gunditjmara objects.

‘There’s a small collection at the Dunkeld Museum, the Glenelg Shire Council office in Casterton, and other small collections in Warrnambool and Portland,’ Denise said. ‘But to have a collection of Aboriginal objects of this size and age is quite rare.’

The project has involved digitising hand-crafted instruments by Gunditjmara peoples onto collection management software, capturing images and details of each item, managing records, and ensuring key information surrounding background and cultural significance is documented.

The objects in the collection include wood-carved boomerangs, shields and digging sticks, as well as intricately woven baskets.

Having benefited from the mentorship of local Gunditjmara-Boandik Elder Uncle Johnny Lovett, Denise said it was a privilege to work with the largest, oldest collection of Aboriginal crafted objects on Gunditjmara Country.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity as a Gunditjmara woman to handle these objects, especially the Western District collection, which I found particularly interesting.

The project is taking place as part of the state’s Regional Gallery Digitisation Project, with the process laying strong foundations for future partnerships between the Gallery and Gunditjmara First Nations.


WHAT: Digitisation of Gunditjmara Country Aboriginal objects
WHERE: Hamilton Gallery, 107 Brown Street, Hamilton

We wish to acknowledge the Gunditjmara people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Grampians creatives Stacey Rees and Sara Bowers talk art, inspo and surviving COVID

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Stacey Rees doesn’t consider herself a long-term artist. While her interest in art and creativity stems back to childhood, it wasn’t until later in life that she really turned her hobby into a career.

‘I’ve only seriously been an artist since 2017,’ the Grampians artist says. ‘I decided to really push my capabilities further after I had kids. I actually set myself a goal by giving myself a year to ‘make it’ because I knew my creative talent was possibly the only thing I was okay at!’

Dedicating her spare time towards exploration and expansion, Stacey soon discovered that her attitude of ‘what have I got to lose?’ was well worth it. ‘I haven’t looked back since.’

Stacey’s contemporary work is quite feminine in its aesthetic – composed of striking colours and abstract portraits that immediately awe the observer. ‘I’m not painting anyone in particular,’ she says. ‘I’ll flip through magazines for inspiration, or I’ll see a colour I’m drawn to and really try to incorporate that into the piece.’

Exhibiting since 2002 – albeit in a non-professional capacity initially – she was a finalist in the Percival Portrait Prize in 2020. Stacey’s debut Sydney solo show was held at Saint Cloche Gallery 2021. Unfortunately, due to COVID, she wasn’t able to attend.

‘In 2020, I kind of thought ‘this is ok, I’m managing pretty well here’, and then came 2021,’ she says. ‘The effects (of COVID) have been interesting. I know that galleries have had to be more creative with reaching out to their audiences.’

I think the hardest thing for buyers is to not have that physical, ‘real life’ viewing experience of the work. This is what’s fundamentally had the biggest impact.

Juggling homeschooling and work, Stacey says she has had to scale back on her art this year, but hopes to get back in the swing of things when the world calms down. ‘Finding the focus has been the most challenging thing, as well as finding the time,’ she says. ‘I’ve decided it’s just not worth the stress as it really shows in my work. I’m waiting until school goes back, and then I can really knuckle down and get some pieces finished for some exhibitions I have coming up.’

Stacey’s experience throughout the pandemic is not an isolated occurrence. Artists all over are confronted with significant stresses and many struggle through financial losses and emotional tolls.

Grampians graphic designer and fine artist Sara Bowers says this year has been particularly difficult to navigate. She says while the first round of lockdowns attracted an increase in work, with more clients wanting to finesse their brands and work on increasing their online presence, the last six months have not been as kind. Her work was also scheduled to appear in this year’s Grampians Brushes Festival, which was then cancelled, and some of her workshops were not able to go ahead.

‘From a personal perspective, I obviously understand, but it has been frustrating to lose that work as a tutor and also the creative momentum. It is unfortunate for the attendees as well – it is just the kind of social creative outlet that we all really need right now. The last six months of lockdowns have really shaken small businesses,’ she says. ‘There is so much uncertainty and many are afraid to invest in design without the stability of income. There is certainly still work, but a bit less.’

Hailing from Seattle, Sara graduated in 2000 with a degree in both Graphic Design and Fine art. She says she wasn’t able to decide which avenue to pursue.

‘For the last twenty years, I have done both – some years have a heavier sway in design and other have had a stronger art presence, but the two always intermingle.’

Having exhibited all around Australia as well as overseas, she says her over the last couple of years, her work has transitioned from a focus on fine art towards her graphic design business – Studio 8 Design. But whether she’s forging a website or creating on a canvas, her work is similarly inspired.

‘I love digging really deep and getting into the true essence of the thing I am representing,’ Sara says. ‘Nature and the environment are huge influences in everything I do. I don’t think it is intentional so much as it happens organically. It is just part of who I am and has always been part of my artwork. My artistry is what makes me unique as a designer and there is a lot of crossover between the two.’

While Stacey and Sara try their utmost to navigate through the struggles of the pandemic, preparing themselves for when restrictions ease, there is one thing that spurs them throughout it all – the ability for art and design to bring solace to all.

Buyers have definitely been proactive when it comes to purchasing art during the pandemic. All those hours spent at home looking at empty walls has been surprisingly positive.

‘You can never have too much art. Whether you are new to the art world or an avid collector. Art just makes the world a better place. Go out there and buy some art that makes you happy and finds a special place in your home and heart.’

FIND OUT MORE: Stacey Rees, Studio 8 Design/Sara Bowers Art

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Goulburn River & Ranges Road Trip

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images supplied

Central Victoria was sometimes seen as a drive-through rather than a drive-to area; a place where you’d stop to use the restroom facilities, grab a coffee or fuel up the car.  Our Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip proves otherwise.

Goulburn Rover Things to DoIt is a place that is filled with a rich history, both recent and more ancient. A place of sweeping landscapes, enchanting waterways and stunning scenic drives, all within an easy drive out of Melbourne.

Head north-east from Melbourne firstly to Marysville and Eildon then on to Yea.  From Yea it’s over to Trawool and Tallarook before heading north to Seymour, Avenel then Nagambie and finally arriving at Euroa.


EuroaOn the edge of the Yarra Valley is the (in)famous Black Spur Drive. Marvel as the road twists and turns beneath towering eucalypts and movie-worthy mist. Soon enough you arrive in Marysville, a pretty little town with a big heart. It is also a convenient jumping-off point to visit Lake Mountain, with plenty for adventure seekers no matter the time of year.

If you want to stretch the legs a little further, Steavenson Falls (Victoria’s tallest with a drop of 84m) is just the ticket. Be well-rewarded for an easy 250m walk from the carpark with sensational views of one of the region’s most iconic waterfalls.


Lake EildonNext up is the town of Eildon and one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, with a whopping 500km coastline. Lake Eildon was created in the 1950s with the damming of the Goulburn River for supply of drinking water, hydro-electricity generation and irrigation.

Naturally this makes it a popular spot for all the water recreational activities you can think of: boating, fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and house boat hire. It’s also an ideal place to just kick back and watch the changing reflections of the clouds and hills on the water.


Yea WetlandsOur next stop is Yea – yay! A perennially popular stopping-off point to refuel both the car and the driver, Yea easily recalls the grandeur of the area’s gold mining past with historic buildings and graceful wide streets. It is also where the Goulburn River meets the Yea River and the Yea Wetlands, a treasure trove of flora and fauna.

Yea’s historic Gothic-styled railway station is beautifully preserved with its red brick façade. It’s a great place to pick up The Great Victorian Rail Trail or allow the kids to let off some steam at the playground.


TrawA short drive and it’s on to the district of Trawool, for there is no township as such. It is here that the Goulburn Valley Hwy plays cat and mouse with the Goulburn River and its lagoons. Holiday makers have been visiting Trawool Valley from the early 1900s to take in the area’s scenic charms and it’s easy to see why.  A visit to the iconic Trawool Estate will not disappoint.


Tallarook Farmers’ MarketNext stop is Tallarook and the start of the 134 km Great Victorian Rail Trail connecting Tallarook to Mansfield. Whether you choose to explore the trail by foot, by bike or by horse it certainly offers a unique way to take in some fresh air. Like so many townships along this great drive, a weekend trip to the farmers’ market is a great way to sample local produce and stock up at the same time. Since 2009, locals and visitors have been filling up their baskets and supporting producers and makers alike at Tallarook Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of the month.


Food SeymourA short drive from Tallarook is Seymour, located on the banks of the beautiful Goulburn River. Very much the platonic ideal of a country town with its wide, welcoming streets and riverside parks, Seymour has always been a major stop on the Melbourne-Sydney route. The area has also had strong military connections since the establishment of a nearby training camp prior to WW1 and then later Puckapunyal Army Base.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during blueberry season (summer) a stop-off at Blue Tongue Berries needs to be top of the list. The Brewer’s Table is your best bet for quality local food, craft beer and cider. While your wine needs are all taken care of with a visit to Wines By Sam, Sam Plunkett’s cellar door in the expertly refitted old Seymour dye works building.


AvenelThe historic township of Avenel was established in 1849 as a stop-over point between Melbourne and Albury. It is also known as the place where Ned Kelly’s family lived in the 1806s. Ned is now known as a bushranger and outlaw, but he was once hailed a hero after rescuing a young boy from drowning in a local creek. Fowles Wines is the perfect lunch spot; after all who can resist a wine with the name Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch?


Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal ArtNagambie calls and it’s our next stop. It is little wonder wineries are a great drawcard of Nagambie and surrounds. The cool climate (influenced by the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) combined with the area’s red sandy loam soil adds up to a distinctive wine region.

Look no further than the historic Tahbilk Winery and Mitchelton wineries for evidence. Situated within the Mitchelton estate in a disused underground wine cellars you’ll find the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, regional Victoria’s largest indigenous art gallery, celebrating the art of Australia’s First People, including local Taungurung people.


EuroaOur last stop is Euroa at the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges. You’re definitely in Kelly country now – Ned Kelly and his gang bank robbed a local bank here in 1878. These days the town is a good base to explore the nearby Strathbogies, take a scenic drive to the Gooram waterfalls or perhaps take a quick dip in one of the popular swimming holes if weather allows.

Whether you are seeking a nature-lovers paradise, a taste of the region’s best restaurants and wineries or a relaxing getaway full of country hospitality, a Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip has it all. Murrindindi, Mitchell and Strathbogie regions are an easy drive out of Melbourne with no end of things to experience whatever the season.

We suggest you plan to stay a while.


Goulburn River Road TripDiscover the huge variety of attractions across the region with this printable map. Download here.

Or use our helpful itinerary to plan your trip around the region.






We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.


Shepparton Art Museum director talks lockdown, creativity, and maintaining connection with community

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

For over six years, Rebecca Coates has been harnessing her love for art and curatorship and channelling it for the benefit of the Shepparton community and beyond.

As director and CEO of the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), Rebecca says her goal has always been for SAM’s exhibitions and programs to not only be locally relevant but to engage with global contemporary ideas. But once the health pandemic hit in 2020, Rebecca and her team were forced to reconsider how these aims would continue to be recognised and implemented.

‘It was all about how we would continue to work with our community and connect with them – because this was all new to everyone,’ she says. ‘We took our programs digital, and early on they were all so hilariously amateur, but we’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t work, so that has been invaluable.

‘We documented and photographed our collection so we could make that available to the public thanks to some Work for Victoria funding, and were able to support local people and keep them employed.’

We continued to remember and, if we could, celebrate what we loved about the arts and cultural space.

As if the advent of COVID wasn’t enough of a challenge for the SAM team, the museum was also transitioning from working under council to operating as a not-for-profit independent model.

At the same time, the museum was in the midst of moving into its newly-constructed contemporary building nestled upon the banks of Victoria Park Lake. While the new building was set to open early this year, the extended lockdowns really threw a few spanners in the works.

‘It’s been very challenging this year,’ Rebecca says. ‘We were meant to open in March, but that was delayed because of COVID so we had to again rethink how we engage and what we do.’

‘We’ve increased our online programming and digital collection online, and have continued to work where we can installing programs so we can open as soon as we can. (But) we have freight coming from interstate so there are considerable parts of our install that have been affected. We like to think we are totally an essential service, but we’re not.’

The state government recently announced that regional Victoria would ease out of lockdown restrictions – with the exception of Shepparton which is still exhibiting relatively high case numbers. Rebecca says as soon as restrictions do lift, they will be able to focus on restarting their installations safely and appropriately.

‘It’s much better to be sensible about it,’ Rebecca explains. ‘It’s meant we’ve had to reschedule, rethink, and look at timelines. But all-in-all, given what’s happening in other sectors, it could be so much worse.’

One of Australia’s leading art museums, SAM is renowned for its significant connection to ceramics as well as with indigenous artists and works. Located in a regional town with a rich multicultural landscape, Rebecca says the museum serves to further the town’s flourishing community.

‘(The museum) needs to be something you can bring your own experience to, part of a larger whole. And that’s what I call the wider contemporary art world,’ she says. ‘I think that will continue and it reinforces Shepparton’s rich multicultural community.’

While it’s hard to know when exactly Shepparton will open up, Rebecca says she’s extremely proud of how her colleagues have been managing the crisis.

The museum recently launched its Sketch program, a five-week series that celebrates artists in the region, while providing art-lovers and dabblers with the chance to participate in workshops aimed at inspiring creativity in lockdown.

‘We want to showcase artists and creators doing good things, engage with a community who values art and culture and wants to have fun, and do that in a way that is part of a larger whole,’ Rebecca says.

‘We just need to be really clear about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we’re doing it. We have to be a bit more flexible, but we will find a way to do it with our friends and colleagues in the arts and culture space.’


WHAT: Shepparton Art Museum

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Supporting musicians in a gig-free world – Freya Josephine Hollick

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

‘Music is not respected.’ It’s a sentiment that is sadly shared amongst most musicians and has become more evident over the past 18 months with the advent of the COVID pandemic.

According to Bungaree-based musician Freya Josephine Hollick, it’s this disrespect for the arts that has caused so much suffering to those in Australia’s entertainment industry.

‘Athletes are respected as having a serious vocation, whereas music is not respected. It’s treated as a hobby. It’s unfortunate but that’s how the arts are treated. As soon as any (COVID-related) announcement is made, music is one of the first industries to be shut down and all gigs are either rescheduled or cancelled.’

Freya started performing when she was 15, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that she started touring professionally. In her 17 years in the industry, she says she’s never faced an obstacle as challenging as the current health pandemic, which has indeed proven itself as a financial and emotional rollercoaster.

As a single parent dealing with the demands of remote learning as well as working two casual jobs in order to make ends meet, the cosmic country musician says her entire livelihood has taken a significant hit.

‘I have lost in excess of $40,000 in work since the start of the pandemic – all from shows. So that’s not even including what we might’ve sold in merchandise,’ Freya says. ‘I also have a manager, booking agent and five musicians who rely on the shows for income.’

A recently-launched country-wide campaign #vaxthenation is urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible in order that concerts and festivals can resume. Gathering musicians from across the country, the movement already has the support of artists the likes of Ocean Alley, Peking Duk, Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, and The Amity Affliction.

But Freya says there are plenty of other ways music-lovers can show their direct support for the music industry. ‘On Spotify, there is this option for artists to activate so listeners can donate funds and none of the money goes to Spotify. Even if it’s $5, it’s a small gesture that could go a long way and I think it’s a really good tool for supporting musicians.

If you can find a way of getting money direct to the artist you admire, even through a direct Instagram message, that’s the best thing you can do.

In the past year, Freya says she performed numerous shows online, but soon found the excessive amount of time online, and performing solo, was much too draining to be sustainable.

Amidst it all, however, she still managed to release a new single titled Vivian, June, Dolly and Jolene. A hyper honest snapshot of the real world in both romance and country music, Freya says the work explores infidelity, jealousy and other ego-driven negatives. The single is taken from her upcoming album The Real World, which has unfortunately faced several delays due to the COVID restrictions.

“The thing I’ve found most difficult is that because the studio I record in is in Melbourne, my record has been delayed 18 months. With every subsequent lockdown we lose five days in the studio, so now (the album) is likely to come out much later.

“I have another record written that I can’t get started on because I can’t get to the studio, and I think watching venues, booking agents, managers, musicians and roadies all suffer through this whole thing has been quite devastating.

‘I think the government needs to take some steps to get us in the mode of COVID being a thing we are going to have to live with. Businesses need to get back to operating and musos need to get back to gigs. Festivals need to go ahead and venues need to open. We all want to be making records on the other side of this.’

As she strives to do her best to get through this ordeal – as is the case with all her comrades in the music industry – Freya says she is taking the time in lockdown to take it slow, detox, read, exercise, meditate and enjoy the small things.

‘I’ve hit a wall with technology and social media and I just want to detox from all that stuff,’ she says. ‘There’s no point going online these days. There’s so much hatred going around when we are really requiring the opposite at the moment. We should be supporting one another.

‘I’m lucky I’ve been able to be present and just enjoy the small gifts every day brings.’

To show your direct support for Freya Josephine Hollick, click here.

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Guilt-free fashion that turns trash into treasure

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

They say in the midst of chaos, there is always opportunity. And this was most certainly the case for Jessica Yorston. Her jewellery-making story started last year as she was dealing with the chaos of managing an ailing tribe.

“I was home with sick children, looking at all the single-use plastics, and I thought ‘what can I make with this? Let’s make something useful, and potentially nice to look at.”

After some quick scouring online, Jessica came across videos of people melting plastics using sandwich presses. And so started the Single Use Multiverse (SUM) journey.

Having studied Fashion Design at RMIT and with years of practical experience, including the creation of her own ethical fashion label, Jessica already had an eye for good design and a passion for sustainable practices. It was just a matter of harnessing these into another medium.

Disheartened by the copious amount of waste produced by the fashion industry, Jessica decided to use her creative prowess to make a difference.

I’d arrived at the realisation that I couldn’t bear to make anything from new materials and to be honest, I was completely over the fashion industry – so wasteful and vacuous.

“I was about to begin studying something completely not-fashion, when the maker in me began playing around with creating colourful sheets by melting waste plastic.”

“It’s been deeply exciting to continue creating products by turning trash into treasure for our ears. The awful feeling that my creating was contributing new matter to the huge expanse of it wrecking the earth, was gone.”

“It’s so satisfying.”

Jessica’s statement earrings are bright, bold and edgy – certain to make an impression.

Her items are made from 100 % recycled single-use plastics such as milk cartons, straws, plastic lids, shampoo bottles, pot plants, formula lids and more. Using a portable oven, Jessica melts the plastics into colourful sheets before cutting the eclectic shapes that form her earrings.

A Blackwood resident, she says her lush and serene home provides the perfect backdrop for the forging of eco-friendly products.

According to Jessica, she’s become the “crazy plastic-collecting lady”, with her fellow Blackwood comrades encouraging her and supporting her along every step of this creative journey.

“We were living in Melbourne, but finding ourselves chasing trees on nearly every day off. So we thought, let’s just live where we want to be on our days off,” she says.

“Besides the very beautiful forest setting, and the dreaminess of being able to wake up to it every morning, the creative community here is epic! Lots of talented and friendly characters experimenting in their fields – it’s inspiring.”

“I also love the amazing encouragement I receive, in the form of words and plastic donations. All the local townsfolk leave bags of their single-use plastics at the top of my driveway, or in their letterboxes for me to collect. It’s brilliant! I’ve also got some amazing neighbours who help me process the plastics for melting by washing and chopping it. Carbon emissions are low!”

While Jessica’s business is primarily based online, with the exception of a few stockists around the state and the odd market appearance, she says the onset of COVID didn’t have too drastic an impact on her – even though she started just as the pandemic hit.

“Perhaps I was at an advantage as people were online more,” she says.

“It was really nice being able to connect with people, through social media platforms, regarding what I was making. Lots of lovely Instagram chats with people excited about my materials and process, which helped ease the bizarreness of that first lockdown.”

What did have an impact on Jessica’s creative process, however, was the fierce storms that hit the community of Blackwood and its surroundings earlier this month.

Jessica says the whole landscape changed as a result, and her business faced a temporary halt.

“I couldn’t melt plastic with no power!” she says.

“I’ve been so blessed to have so many earring orders, both wholesale and online, that I had absolutely no backup stock before the storms.”

“Every pair has been made to order the last few months, so no power meant my lovely customers had to wait longer for their orders.”

“But I’ve been so blown away by everyone’s understanding and patience.”


WHAT: Single Use Multiverse

2021 Archibald Prize to takeover Gippsland Art Gallery

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Join in the centenary celebrations of Australia’s favourite art award with a visit to Gippsland this October/November. Gippsland Art Gallery is rightfully excited and proud to be chosen as the sole Victorian venue to host the 2021 Archibald Prize on its regional tour.

The Art Gallery of NSW whittled down some 938 entries to just 52 for this year’s prize. Visitors can play spot the familiar face amongst subjects ranging from politicians to celebrities, sporting heroes and artists.

For his winning portrait, Peter Wegner chose fellow artist Guy Warren (also celebrating his 100th birthday) as his subject. Incidentally, Warren won the prestigious award himself in 1985.

Painting styles vary as widely as the subjects and no doubt much discussion will be had over the various merits of them all. One highly commended piece from Sydney artist Jude Rae – Inside Out – deals with themes many will be able to relate to from the past year.

As Rae herself states, ‘It seemed to me that the self-portrait is the most compelling expression of this inwardness, but also a reminder that, while we might feel singular, we are not separate. We think of ourselves alone at our peril.’

Overlooking waterways and parklands in the Port of Sale precinct, the gallery expects to welcome over 50,000 visitors during the exhibition’s 45 days and with free entry there’s no excuse not to bring the kids along for a bit of culture.


WHAT: Archibald Prize – Gippsland Art Gallery
WHERE: 70 Foster St, Sale
WHEN: Friday 8th October – Sunday 21st November 2021 – open 7 days
MORE INFO:  2021 Archibald Prize

Image Credits:

Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Peter Wegner
Portrait of Guy Warren at 100
oil on canvas, 120.5 x 151.5 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Jenni Carter
Sitter: Guy Warren
Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Natasha Bieniek
Rachel Griffiths
oil on wood, 13.5 x 18.5 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Sitter: Rachel Griffiths
Archibald Prize 2021 finalist
Kirthana Selvaraj
The green suit, a self-portrait
oil on canvas, 150.2 x 90.1 cm
© the artist
Photo: AGNSW, Mim Stirling
Sitter: Kirthana Selvaraj