Arts Northern Rivers and Lismore Tourism have put their heads together and created an Indigenous art space at the Lismore Visitor Information Centre so people can enjoy and buy homegrown Bundjalung art.
The centre attracts around 50,000 visitors each year (that’s an average of 140 every day) and in the words of artists Les Evans, it’s an advertisement of what Lismore’s all about “ working together.
There are some very good artists around the area but before this there wasn’t no place to put things anywhere, Les said. Now busloads of tourists can see something of the local culture and they can buy it and they can take it home. It’s a really good idea.
Les said having art for sale on the walls will not only bring about a better understanding of Bundjalung culture and provide income for artists, but also give them a much-needed boost to their self-esteem.
If you have a place like this and your stuff is on the wall it makes you feel proud of what you’re doing and inspires you to do more, he said. When someone likes your art, likes the way you think, it encourages your creativity. Every positive comment feeds you as an artist.
The space will be home to a revolving exhibition called Aboriginal Art of the Northern Rivers and Arts Northern Rivers is now spreading the word so there’s a bank of art from which to continually keep replacing works that are sold. There will be a particular focus on emerging artists and keeping the works fresh so there’s always something new to see.
Council’s tourism co-ordinator Mitch Lowe said international visitors were expressing a greater respect for and interest in Indigenous culture and were often looking for opportunities to experience it first-hand.
He said he hoped the art space would inspire people to seek out and explore Indigenous attractions beyond the walls of the centre, such as the 3 Rivers Aboriginal Art Space in Magellan St, the Wilsons River Experience Walk and Indigenous bush food garden in Riverside Park, and GunnaWannaBe Cafe, Gallery and Learning Centre in South Lismore.
Mayor Jenny Dowell launched the art space to coincide with NAIDOC Week, and was clearly enthusiastic about the venture. She said statistically, there was more art per square kilometre here than any other region in NSW.
I think it (the art) will be like hot cakes “ it will jump off the walls, she said.
She also pointed out it’s a great place to buy a gift for a visitor or for them to purchase a reminder of their visit to the Bundjalung nation.
This is one of the only places open on Sunday afternoons! she said.
The Lismore Visitor Information Centre is on the corner of Ballina Rd and Molesworth St and is open seven days a week from 9.30am to 4pm.
¢ For more information on the Indigenous arts funding announced by Arts Minister Peter Garrett on Wednesday, see page 16.