16 May 2024

Free creative event coming to Bellambi Lane

| Dione David
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Artists Mignon Steele and Paige Northwood

Artists Mignon Steele and Paige Northwood’s workshops are booked out, but they’ll be out and about during Creative Dialogues. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

From the outside, Buckeroo Leatherworks might seem nothing more than a giant industrial warehouse, but an upcoming event will showcase Wollongong’s thriving creative industry and open our eyes to how spaces outside the CBD are being used in unexpected ways.

Next week Wollongong City Council will present Creative Dialogues – Connecting through Art, Music and Conversation: a day of workshops, discussions and live music celebrating local creative industries.

The free creative event will be open to everyone, especially local creative producers, performers and artists.

Wollongong City Council acting coordinator cultural development Shannon Kennedy said the “New York-style Buckaroo Leatherworks” warehouse in Bellambi Lane was the ideal place to make the point.

“Half the building is a leatherworks and the other half has been turned into creative spaces – recording studios, artists’ studios, a brewery, a furniture restoration place. People don’t realise it’s been a hub for creativity in Wollongong for years,” he said.

“Tanya Van der Water, the CEO of Buckeroo Leatherworks is a strong supporter of the arts. They had all this unused area in the warehouse and have created these wonderful art spaces.”

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The event provides the public the chance to go where artists work and get into the mix themselves, but also for creatives to gain professional development and insight into what’s happening at the leatherworks.

“The artists have all been very generous. They’ll open their studios during the day and host a number of workshops, panel discussions and a music event,” Shannon said.

“We’ve created a whole day of activations and hopefully, there’ll be something in it for everyone.”

Free workshops will include lessons with local documentary and music photographer Chris Frape, an experimental paper pulp sculptural workshop with artists Mignon Steele and Paige Northwood, a workshop on recording music in non-studio environments with the Stranded Recording Studio and a basic leather crafting and design workshop with Heaps Good Leather Work.

While this event is free, some activities require bookings, and many have already booked out.

Doors will also open to several creative studios located in Bellambi Lane so people can meet local artists and check out their work while enjoying delicious catering from The Barrel Shepherd.

In the evening, audiences can expect conversations on engaging topics such as ‘how to survive the robot apocalypse as an artist’, ‘decoloniality and culturally safe art practice’ and ‘the art of “shameless self-promotion” for creative types’.

The night will conclude with live music curated by Stranded Recording Studios and featuring Expensive Music Band, Punko, Solo Career and Dag.

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The mini festival is a departure from the council’s usual approach.

“In the past, we’ve done podcasts and industry events for professional development and capacity building for professional artists. This time we want to provide insight into some of the creative spaces people wouldn’t normally go to,” Shannon said.

“Wollongong City Council knows we have a thriving creative scene in Wollongong, but times are tough for artists and creatives. We’re committed to supporting our artists – they’re important to our cultural identity and it need not be confined to the city limits.

“Hopefully the idea of unconventional uses of spaces helps the community and even council to think outside the box more and use more spaces for creative purposes.”

Creative Dialogues – Connecting through Art, Music and Conversation takes place Saturday 18 May from noon to 9 pm at the Buckaroo Leatherworks, 16 Bellambi Lane.

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