22 April 2024

Gill Sanbrook hosts Sydney artist at creative workshop in Bibbaringa Woolshed

| Vanessa Hayden
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man and woman at art shed

Artist Joe Frost and Gill Sanbrook. Joe is currently in residence at the Bibbaringa Woolshed in Bowna and will be sharing his extensive knowledge with practising artists at a special workshop on 27 April. Photos: Supplied.

Practising artists have the opportunity to learn from renowned Sydney artist Joe Frost at a one-day workshop being held at the beautiful Bibbaringa Woolshed in Bowna.

The workshop on 27 April is part of the Earth Canvas project, which since 2019 has been linking artists with regenerative farmers to create a better future.

The initial collaboration encouraged artists to explore the farmer’s vision of creativity within the landscape and express their impressions through art.

The artists were asked to create a body of artworks to express their experience of a regenerative farm. It was hoped the experience would encourage land managers and food consumers and agencies to see the landscape in a more empathic way, and thereby help to create a healthier world.

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Bibbaringa owner and founder of Earth Canvas Gill Sanbrook is well known for her regenerative farming skills and the transformation of her own 950-acre (384-hectare) property in the Wymah Valley.

Regenerating and caring for the landscape that surrounds her is at the heart of everything she does and connecting the message of maintaining healthy soil and environments with the language of art is another way to reach audiences who may not ordinarily be engaged.

man working on his art at woolshed

Joe Frost has exhibited consistently since 1999 and has come from Sydney to help local artists refine their approach and visual expression.

She said the Joe Frost workshop was part of a much broader program and one of several residencies that Bibbaringa offered each year for artists as well as agricultural students interested in regenerative land management and holistic practices.

Both offer a chance for all participants to immerse themselves in the landscape and gain a deeper empathy and understanding of the land.

Collaborating artists so far include Idris Murphy, Rosalind Atkins, Jenny Bell, Janet Laurence, Tony Nott, John Wolseley and Jo Davenport.

Gill met Joe through Artstream, another of her initiatives, which involves a group of art enthusiasts from Albury and surrounds who together are building a collection of Australian art from emerging and established artists as well as iconic works.

“We met Joe at his studio in Sydney when our buying group Artstream was attending the Sydney Art Fair,” she said.

“He was talking about feeling cramped in at the time, wanting more space and wanting to get out, so I told him about Bibbaringa Woolshed and the residencies that Earth Canvas offers and he took up the opportunity.

“This will be great for practising artists as Joe is also a lecturer at the National Art School in Sydney and a writer for art magazines.

“I think he’ll also have a transformational experience when he’s here because he’s got no idea about the farming land here, he’s very much an urban artist, and if you look at his art it’s about building and angles of building, it’s so different.

“It’s very exciting to get an artist like that coming out here and who will be face to face with students.”

The focus of Earth Canvas and its activities is on the intersection of creativity, sustainability and the natural environment.

group on hillside at a farm

Bibbaringa Station in the Wymah Valley at Bowna has been transformed through the practice of regenerative farming and holistic management.

Gill said she realised through Artstream the importance of artists in society.

“Artists see things differently and often see things before other people do,” she said.

“If we can get artists to talk to farmers and to anyone that eats food, which is all of us, and use the language of art to get people to think about what they are doing in their own landscape and how they are managing it, it becomes a really nice message.

“It’s another language that some people might hear that they wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

“The basic idea is that we are trying to get people to look at the landscape through a different lens and from a more creative perspective.”

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At the Joe Frost workshop, the morning session will see the group identify key visual and creative issues in their work, with the emphasis on recognising the potential and identifying the problems. The afternoon session will see students start a new work (or a rework) in light of the review, supported by focused, one-on-one discussions with Joe.

“I really hope the participants drive over the grid at the entrance to the property and start looking at the landscape for what it is, rather than looking at the houses and buildings,” Gill said.

“I want them to get the feeling of connection to land similar to how the Aboriginal people connect with the Country, ‘just be’ and allow the energy of the land to direct how they feel.”

Gill can’t help but talk about her surrounds in an empathetic and understanding way – it’s the way she feels about her environment.

“It’s not just business here. It’s about, firstly, the landscape, it has to be healthy and improving and then the finances follow. It’s really important and that’s what regenerative farming is about – it’s about balancing environmental outcomes, or natural capital outcomes, with financial outcomes.

“You have to get the land right, the water right, the soil right, and from there everything else should flow.”

To book your place at the workshop, visit Trybooking and find out more here about Earth Canvas and Bibbaringa Woolshed.

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