Oil painter Tracey Jones is already down to work in the sunlit E3 studio beneath Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, adding foundational tones to a sketched-out canvas.
“Mostly, I deal with notions that challenge beauty,” she said, indicating the source photograph of roses climbing an ageing wall beside a Georgian doorway.
“Memory and longing and nostalgia are all wrapped up in that as well.”
Tracey is one of six artists or collectives to be selected for the gallery’s Regional Artist Development Program along with Linzie Nardi, Lyndall Phelps, Elaine Camlin, Brittany Hefren, and Vanessa Keenan and Nat Ord.
Each recipient receives a stipend, the use of a spacious studio environment at the gallery for four weeks and the chance to exhibit the finished product.
“I’m developing work for a project called 60 Miles as the Crow Flies,” Tracey explained.
“What I’m doing is exploring the quintessential rural towns of Australia within 60 miles, which is about 100 kilometres, of the Wagga radius and looking at that friction point between beauty and decay.”
During her residency, Tracey will travel to small towns around Wagga to capture some of the “daily quiet backdrops to our lives”.
Gallery director Dr Lee-Anne Hall said it provided a great opportunity to tap into the region’s creative community.
“The program aims to provide a platform for regional artists to develop their skills, connect with new audiences and showcase their works, while also supporting the growth and vibrancy of our local arts community,” she said.
Program coordinator Mary Egan said the program had a strong local focus.
“It’s great to support artists from the Riverina telling the stories of the Riverina, and that’s what I think Tracey does beautifully in this residency and also her upcoming exhibition,” Mary said.
“All of the residences and exhibitions coming up this year are going to be looking at the region. They’re going to be looking at the environments, the communities, the landscapes, telling those stories and doing it in a way that allows artists to stay here and develop professionally and creatively.
“There’s such a strong creative community in the Riverina, so it’s great being able to support that community of creative artists and artistic people.”
Tracey will return to the E3 Art Space in May to present a solo exhibition of the works she has created.
Next in residence will be Leeton painter Linzie Nardi in June, exploring the theme ”View From My Studio” and capturing the beauty of the E3 studio’s lagoon-side location.
In August, photographer Brittany Hefren will present her first solo exhibition, Windows of Wonder, blending botanical photography and portraiture.
In September, Lyndall Phelps will travel from the Northern Rivers as part of a partnership with Earth Canvas, linking artists with regenerative farmers.
In October, local printmaker Elaine Camlin from Unique State Art Space will create a new body of work exploring her identity as an artist and art therapist.
In the final exhibition of 2023, Snowy Valley photographers Vanessa Keenan and Nat Ord will unveil Mid Stories II, looking at the ongoing effects of the devastating Black Summer bushfires on landscapes and communities.
You can find more information here.