The With Drawing Project-connecting through creativity.

The Bellingen Shire creative community have found ways to stay connected during Covid-19. we chat with Lunci of Big Fig Arts

You could say that it has never been more important for our community to stay connected.  It seems that it is our creative community that are shining a light for how this can be done.  And as you would expect, they are doing it creatively.

The Bellingen Shire creative community have found ways to stay connected during Covid-19. we chat with Lunci of Big Fig Arts

Lunci- Big Fig Arts

“It’s vital for all sections of a community to feel and be connected. Creatives play an important role within any community in that they help to create connection for others,” says Lunci (Mark Renshaw) of Big Fig Arts.  Creatives being able to stay connected, while providing a platform for the whole community to come together was the motivation for the ‘With Drawing Project’, a Big Fig Arts Initiative.  We chat to Lunci about this inclusive project.

What exactly is the ‘With Drawing Project’?

The Bellingen Shire creative community have found ways to stay connected during Covid-19. we chat with Lunci of Big Fig Arts

Crystal Tate’s piece for the With Drawing Project ‘Love’ theme.

Big Fig Arts have been running weekly art classes, including the popular Dead Flowers Society, for about five years. So there is this great creative community that we wanted to keep connected, inspired and creating during social distancing.  We chose to post a different drawing ‘prompt’ each week with a new ‘theme’ and anyone can join in by tagging their drawings for us to share daily on our social media platforms. The themes are influenced by the withdrawn times we are now living in such as home, mask and food. We liked the idea of turning withdrawing into a more creative With Drawing. We aim to encourage exploration and personal interpretation of each theme. The response so far has been excellent.

What was your motivation for this project?

The Bellingen Shire creative community have found ways to stay connected during Covid-19. we chat with Lunci of Big Fig Arts

Work by #austroplatypus for ‘Pet’ theme

One of Big Fig Arts main aims is inclusion. People tend to come along to our art classes not only for the creative pursuit but also for community and self-healing reasons, so we wanted to provide a project that had all those elements still. Drawing can be a great way to relax, help with mindfulness, assist new ways of seeing and can provide quiet time, where you can increase your skills to suit your own style and pace. Drawing is the basis for a lot of creativity.   For the kids it’s so natural, we draw before we write. We also know it’s important to have something to work towards too, so a weekly prompt can kick start ideas and provides that gentle sense of purpose. We’ve had whole families creating together, which is fantastic to see.

How important is it for our creative community to feel connected?

It’s vital for all sections of a community to feel and be connected. Creatives play an important role within any community in that they help to create connection for others. I think for a lot of creative folks there is a balance between a kind of incubation, the solo, quiet, reflective studio time and then the ‘show’ time to exhibit and perform. However, that continual sense of staying in touch with others and their respective creative fields is essential. It’s how we grow and explore and turn ideas into culture. Artists are also generally very flexible and resourceful folks. We’re seeing evidence of this now throughout the world. New ways and approaches to culture-making. And new ways to get that out to audiences. Artists need to create and people need to connect, so I think we are all just adapting and making that happen. It’s also important for Interested people to be involved with creative pursuits. The challenge to meet at the moment is how to continue some of that without the physical interaction. This is a very unique time we are sharing.

There have been so many hurdles for our creative community.  How do you think our creatives will fare going forward?

Firstly, as most creatives are often self-employed I think there is a normality to inconsistency with income, work opportunities and practicalities like having a studio/ rehearsal/ retail space or the like. That’s not ideal obviously however, there’s usually a lot of tenacity that gets an exhibition up or the gig booked or the play or event happening to financially sustain an artist. This is just not as  possible now so this economic situation will have a massive impact on the whole Arts sector. There are many, many other people working in the Arts industries also that are consequently being effected.
We are seeing grants and funding changing to suit the new conditions although these only assist a minority. Traditional fallback jobs are also unavailable, even most teaching and tuition opportunities. Venues, theatres and galleries are closed or heavily restricted to numbers of people so viability is limited. And for how long?
More importantly though is the absence of culture we can interact with. I’m most concerned about diversity and local grass roots cultures disappearing. For every prominent and successful artisan there are hundreds of others having a go, creating vibrant local culture, entertainment and part-time careers. Financially it will be challenging.
The Bellingen Shire creative community have found ways to stay connected during Covid-19. we chat with Lunci of Big Fig Arts

Work by Carolyn Mutch for ‘Love’ theme.

Having said that I know for sure creatives will keep making and singing and writing and dancing because it’s who they are. They will even be inspired and provide comment and beauty and thought from all this. They will have creative content and wares. And they will have hungry audiences waiting.

Ultimately, a lot of art is an experience. In a space, a park, theatre or gallery. It can send shivers down your spine and make you cry and question and elated and all the stuff that is human. It’s what we ‘buy’ into. It’s why we attend and sample the goods. The artist puts themselves into their work and we connect to the bits that are us. Or not us. Either way it is that wonderful connection. I really believe with technology and flexibility creatives will navigate ways back to this. Creatives are great at finding solutions and people are very adaptable. Creatives will be ok through this but maybe culture is going to need a big hug.

Do you have any other creative projects in the pipeline we should watch out for?

We have online creative tips for kids #bigkidsartlab to help with homeschooling ideas.  We have separate projects for writers #19wordsbig and printmakers #thebigshareplate.  We are planning some new art classes around the restrictions which we will run as soon as we are able. These are adapted from workshops we already had.  Smaller classes conducted outside in nature, which is really the perfect classroom, especially for where we live in beautiful Bellingen.

For those interested in joining the With Drawing Project CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION

One Comment

  • Yvonne Evers says:

    Hi Runci. I would love to join this project. I was in your art classes at the stables earlier this year. I have since done an online drawing course which finished a few weeks ago. Please let me know how to join th is project
    Cheers
    Yvonne

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