They Are Us is launched

Some of the audience at the launch of They Are Us at the Mercure Ballarat

The They Are Us collaborative ekphrastic art exhibition filled the room for its official opening on February 27, and it was quite a blast.

The exhibition reversed the usual ekphrastic process, having 20 Soldiers Hill Artist Collective members create art in response to short fiction and poetry by Central Highlands writers, operating under the WOL banner, on the theme of They Are Us.

The artists were randomly matched to the written works and created responses in a range of media, including painting, photography, woodwork and textiles.

Writer Jean Flynn at the They Are Us launch

Writer Jean Flynn reading her work, ‘What Would Jacinda Do’

The writers engaged with a broad range of subjects, from intergenerational meditations, warfare and immigration, to alien encounters and environmental concerns.

The combined works comfortably fill the generous space at the Lounge Gallery, Billy’s Bar, at the Mercure at 613 Main Rd, Ballarat, and the launch crowd comfortably filled the room! Lovely to see some red dots on the walls by the end of the evening, too!

City of Ballarat’s deputy mayor, Cr Belinda Coates, again showed her appreciation of not just the exhibition and the project’s collaborative nature, but the role of art itself at a defining time in history.

Reuben Morgan (of the BallaRat Pack), who composed a gorgeous piece for the previous WOL-SHAC collaboration Weathering the Future in 2018, has again written a bespoke theme piece. He was unfortunately unable to perform it on the night, but a recording of the work (about seven minutes in three movements) played during the launch shows a piece well worth a closer listen when it becomes available as he reflects on the refugee experience.

We’re particularly grateful to Radmac Office Choice in Ballarat for the generous donation of foam core board on which to display the written works and to Robert Young Signs for their contribution.

The exhibition runs from February 24 to April 5.

Artist Judith Bryce explains how she used writing by Jean Flynn as inspiration for a woven basket

Artist Judith Bryce explains how she used writing by Jean Flynn as inspiration for a woven basket laden with symbolism.


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