Arts Program Overview

Karen Golland Cementa 15 Artstate Bathurst Tamworth 2019

Image: Karen Golland at Cementa 15. Karen presented her work last year at Artstate Bathurst. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Celebrate the Arts in the North West

Artstate Tamworth 2019 will showcase the profound artistic and cultural identity of the North West region of NSW. The Arts Program highlights the region’s rich, cultural Kamilaroi heritage, established artists and a new generation of emerging young artists, through a diverse music program (with some Country, of course), an amazing visual arts program and a celebration of the North West’s writers. Artstate 2019 recognises the ambition and talent of the whole arts and cultural ecology of the North West. It is an event where nationally and internationally acclaimed artists share a platform with tenacious and talented young artists who make North West NSW their home and the location of their professional practice.

The Artstate Tamworth Arts Program will feature artists from the vast creative diaspora of the region who began their practice in the North West and still maintain a strong connection to that place and a deep relationship with the community. From the bold opening ceremony through to the final day’s events, the work and practice of Aboriginal artists will be celebrated across music, dance and visual arts.

The opening ceremony on Thursday evening in Bicentennial Park is directed by Tamworth’s Peter Ross and will feature the Gomeroi dancers, local brass bands and a lighting design that references Tamworth’s history as the first city of light.

Friday night the park with be home to the Girrabul Murris featuring Roger Knox, a celebration of the Knox family’s contribution to both music in the area and to Australian music. The music program will also include performance by Radical Son and an eclectic range of musicians rounding off every night at Artstate’s Festival Club.

The North West region is more than Country music. Armidale’s contemporary recorder artist, Alana Blackburn will give a recital art the Chapel Theatre. Talented students from the Tamworth Conservatorium of Music will join with young musicians from across country NSW to perform in the Regional Youth Orchestra’s finale concert in the Tamworth Town Hall on Sunday morning. This orchestra was first established for ARTLANDS Dubbo in 2016, and has remained as a favourite feature at all Artstates. This free orchestral concert is produced in association with the NSW Regional Conservatoriums Association.

For the theatre buffs, Artstate presents local theatre maker Daniel Gillet’s production of I Am My Own Wife and Dona Gayford McLaren’s play, Winangalanga! The Story of Dhinawan, Burraalga, Yaraay that will be performed in Gamilaraay and English languages. The Tamworth Musical Society’s production of Kinky Boots will also be included in the program as part of the Made In Tamworth program at the Capitol Theatre.

The cornerstone of the visual arts program is the Tamworth Regional Gallery’s exhibition, Exploded Textiles.  As home of the Tamworth Textile Triennial (and  founding exhibitions) since 1975, Exploded Textiles presents an exhibition of contemporary, textile-based works from the Art Gallery NSW and Tamworth Regional Gallery’s collections that celebrates Tamworth’s famous focus on textile art.

In the second Gallery, Arts North West’s Caroline Downer is curating Art Word Place, 18 writers and 18 artists featuring ekphrastic works by key New England writers inspired by the best of the area’s visual artists. Additional site specific installations and projections can be discovered throughout the Artstate precinct.

The Peel River, so important to the Kamilaroi people, flanks the southern edge of Tamworth’s CBD and the edge of the Artstate precinct.

In creating Artstate 2019’s Arts Program my aim is to crystallise a sense of the area’s culture over a couple of days. To do this I have immersed myself in the region: exploring, driving its roads, watching sunsets, talking to artists and community members, and researching history and culture. Soaking in the sense of place. Tamworth and the North West are cross-roads in regional NSW and much of its sense of place is about the connections between and across artists and communities. Sometimes it is about reconnecting with artists who have left and come back. There is a passion here and this program demonstrates the strength of arts and culture in this region.

Dr Greg Pritchard
Arts Program Director