This weekend the small town of Lockhart, in the heart of the Riverina, will showcase local, emerging and Indigenous artistic and creative talents as part of the Spirit of the Land Arts Festival on the 24 “ 26 of October. The Festival is a multi faceted community event incorporating the Lockhart Picnic Races, a huge town-wide garage sale: ˜Lockhart goes on Sale’, a food and wine fair, live entertainment and not one but three Art exhibitions, entitled collectively and individually: Elements, Expressions and Emotions of our Land, there will also be a mapped arts trail throughout the weekend and an art auction to close the Festival on Sunday.

The categories for the exhibitions are: Elements: featuring ˜Farm Art’ created by farm and agricultural implements or features of the land, Expressions: works created with oil, water, clay, textiles, glass, ceramics, photography or multi-media and Emotions: Indigenous art: cultural and contemporary.

There is considerable prize money on offer for Artists, most notably he first National Sculpture Award for ˜Farm Art’ with a $10,000 first prize and $5,000 in secondary prizes (sponsored by Origin Energy, and multinational corporations Bilfinger Berger and Siemens Ltd). Around the district and in the centre of town local farmers will display their farm art creations which now are for some, like Andrew Whitehead, more than a pastime: It began as a hobby, he said. Now it has become a passion. I wanted to make sculptures that captured the toughness, resourcefulness and adaptability of rural families. There are also additional awards in all categories including a prize for a local artist (residing within 60kms of Lockhart), a separate prize for an Indigenous artist and the added bonus for artists of ˜acquisition sponsorships’ where sponsors have committed to purchasing artworks of their choice.

The Art Festival will officially open with an Award Ceremony at 11am on Friday 24th of October 2008 prior to the opening of the Lockhart Picnic Races, one of the largest country race meetings in NSW. It will close on Sunday 26th October following the art auction at 1.30pm at the Lockhart Ex Serviceman’s Club. Bids will be accepted by silent auction and in person where all works submitted for sale will be offered.

The Spirit of the Land Festival was developed to highlight the resilience, heart, soul and humour of the bush and assist the regions’ people as they cope with arguably the worst drought in recorded history. The Festival acknowledges the struggles of all the regions’ people and the strength of their survival, including that of the local Wiradjuri People. There will be a traditional ˜Welcome to Country’ ceremony to officially open the Festival, with a Yidiki (didgeridoo) performance by Cootamundra & Wagga Wagga artist and dancer Ondi [Andrew] Craig. Wagga Wagga’s Mount Austin High School’s Koori Education Team will also be performing.

With its broad and eclectic ˜something for everyone’ appeal the Festival promises to be a fantastic weekend. If you wish to experience the invention, creativity and imagination of the Riverina Region this weekend, check the Tourism NSW State Tourism Data Warehouse, at and Lockhart Council website and of course the Lockhart Spirit of the Land Festival website