Reflections from Outback Connections
Last time Paper Bou spoke with go-getter Ruby Purple, she was pushing boundaries both personally and professionally within her art practice. Just recently she has participated in an artist residency in Curtin Springs (Central Australia) on a remote cattle station.
What's Ruby been doing?:
What did you do while you were there? ~ What didn’t I do haha. The days began quite early seeing every sunrise! The view from my accommodation was so beautiful with the sun hitting Mt Conner at the horizon, the birds singing good morning and travellers moving about, what a way to begin your day!
My residency included learning the entire paper making process, from the cutting of the grasses to rinsing, pulling paper sheets, drying and then creating a body of work titled Outback Connections from these papers.
I managed mural and painting projects with the students of Curtin Springs School of the Air (CSSOTA), and 55 students and five teachers from an Alice Springs school. The mural was painted on two of the outer walls of the CSSOTA classroom where I had the students adding leaves (hand prints) to a big Desert Oak called the half way tree and grasses to the landscape.
The property was huge! With over 1 000 000 acres to explore! The Severin family took me to several remarkable places including Swansons salt lake; a transient crystalline lake connected to the salt lake system that travels from Uluru to Lake Ayer, AMAZING! The texture and movement, the mummified creatures, the sunset and moonrise, outstanding!
We travelled to several of the cattle yards on the property although the one at East Lake (40 minute drive from the homestead) had sights of the big scrub bulls to the cutest little calves, and then there’s the iconic Mt Conner! The sunset was just amazing! So many colours and changeable each couple of minutes. All of these treasures were on the Severin family’s property, such a privilege to visit, to see the amazing sights and have so many amazing experiences!
What challenges did you face? ~ There aren’t any shops close by (4hr drive to Alice Springs, which is the closest art supplies location) so I needed to be organised and anticipate what supplies I'd be working with. This was a bit of a challenge due to the size of my suitcase and the need to pack warm clothes, but all worked out ok.
Also being away from family had its challenges and I found myself wandering my thoughts back home sometimes. However the opportunities were amazing and I’ve definitely been oversharing how much I loved the experience and how I can’t wait to take them there!
What connections did you make? ~ I found new friendships formed, along with connecting to the staff who come from all over the world, the students and their teachers, the locals (85 – 100 kms away) who brought their children to participate in the painting projects.
My Outback Connections project is all about bringing art to the outback and making connections. The families who were invited saw the art projects as an opportunity for the kids to come together and to connect, they understand the importance of social interaction when living in a remote environment. I had many families, travelling many kms, 5524 kms actually with kids from country, city and interstate connecting with these projects. It was amazing!
You were crowdfunding as well - how did that go? ~ I’m so very grateful to everyone who donated, shared and supported me and who continue to do so, it’s a very humbling experience asking for help and then to see how people respond is remarkable! Thanks to these amazingly generous supporters, they helped me to reach my fundraising goal!
Which means Outback Connections is traveling to regional Queensland! HOW AMAZING IS THAT! THANKYOU!
Have you developed/planned out a body of work for a touring exhibition from the artist residency? ~ Yes. Outback Connections is currently in Tambo at Grasslands Gallery and the exhibition is on display from Friday 29 June 2018, to see What’s Ruby doing and where to next head visit here.
What did you learn about being in a remote area for an artist residency? ~ The remoteness to me was a peaceful and grounding experience, although, as my residency was on a working cattle station with a paper making facility and connected to the tourism industry, the most important element was to be adaptable as every day brought new opportunities!
Would you do it again? ~ Absolutely!
Has the experience influenced or changed you in any way? ~ Definitely. Keep an eye on What’s Ruby doing or come to an exhibition as my art will reflect this shift.
Favourite moment of the trip? ~ Impossible to choose! Here’s a couple to give you an idea why:
- Flying in and seeing Uluru for the first time!
- Such colours!
- The excitement, connection and happiness of the students when creating work
- The connections to people and place
- Sunrise hitting Mt Conner – spectacular colour variations all in a few minutes!
- Fascinating cloud formations and movement in different directions due to the changing winds
- Sunsets over Mt Conner – the blues to purples, red ochre to magenta, colours I can’t even explain!
- Moonrise and sunset over Swansons salt lake – absolutely amazing!
- Holding a juvenile Thorny Devil who sat motionless and held my gaze
- Back burning and 4 wheel driving
- Huge scrub bulls kicking up sand and locking heads with their rivals
- The gentleness of a cow to her calf when she know it’s goodbye
- The chorus of birds singing good morning and good night
- Camels racing and their funny sounds and movements at the Camel Cup
- BBQ 40 kms from the homestead around the bon fire, the stillness, the dark, the stars!
- The dingoes howling nearby
- The adventures to different locations on the property
- Poppas stonework in the homestead and the bough shed
- Cutting the grasses, making the paper and then turning it into a body of work
- The activity in the station kitchen – so busy!
- The ringing of the dinner bell - as I know I don’t have to cook just enjoy what’s prepared!
- No neighbours as far as you can see!
- Flying out and knowing which formation is Mt Conner and that I was there!
Every day I would thank Amee (AiR organiser) for an amazing day thinking it can’t get any better and then finding myself doing exactly the same thing the next day and the next! So much to offer if you take the time to look, listen and see.
What would you do differently next time? ~ Definitely extend my stay.