…or how to have fun smashing things and why you should have an artist page on the HAN website.”

Way back in January when an email arrived from an unknown person in Jindabyne I very nearly deleted it without opening: Thank heavens I didn’t, she had found me through the HAN website, but more of that later!

It was an initial probing enquiry from Margie Ferguson, the Waste Education Officer of the Snowy River Shire Council wondering if I might be the primary tutor at their Waste to Art workshops in mid April as part of their annual Lake Light Festival.

Gads but its hard to control the excitement when all you want to do is scream ‘Yes’, but contain myself I did, long enough to find out that the travel and accommodation package was very tempting whilst the wages… you might have already guessed it- no wage, no stipend, not even a retainer. BUT, there was a sound offer for a “private viewing” at the Jindabyne Tip Shop!!! Irresistible! Ah, what the hell, I said ‘yes’ and so started the whole long-distance, creative thought process.
I am, a mosaic tragic! I live breath and dream mosaics! You can’t imagine how exciting it was to be thinking of mosaic heaven 650kms away on the banks of the beautiful Lake Jindabyne. This was definitely going to be a road trip and I was going to make the most of it. (Geez, I hope nobody raids the Tip Shop before I get there!) The problem of the long and tiresome drive was quickly solved when my (dear old) Mum, Barbara, said “I’m coming too”. Am I insane? Undoubtedly!

The various emails between Margie and myself ranged from ‘what brand of plate is best to smash’, to what type of community art piece would work best in the proposed setting/format. Having seen photos of a couple of my works, it was decided that a shop mannequin (remember, I am the dummy) would be ideal and so Margie set out in earnest in search of a 2nd hand, sturdy, torso. Just 1 day later I got a phone call with the exciting news that she had ‘acquired’ 4! Oh-oh!

April came so quickly, with car loaded and good old fashioned map in hand, we set off and relatively quickly (OK, lead-footedly) arrived at the Jindabyne Memorial Hall to be greeted by the lovely Miss Margie…gads, she could talk…someone could be raiding the Tip Shop!- couldn’t she just point us in the right direction? I should not have worried the Tip Shop was heaven and, especially opened for us to peruse at our leisure. That Margie is a quick learner and soon we had a booty that would inspire a
multitude of artworks.

Day 1 of the workshops arrived and having given Margie lesson 1- a crash-course in the not-so-delicate art of rapid-set concreting, the 3 of us braced ourselves for the unknown.

That 1st workshop was certainly full of surprises! We had 24 general participants AND then 16 kids from the local OOSH. Unbelievable! Thank heavens Barbara is a  competent mosaicist! Margie had learnt lesson No 2, limit the number of participants to each workshop! Whilst chaos ruled for a short while, it was quickly evident that these country folk were going to take mosaicing by the horns and give it a damn good shake. That 1st workshop produced many fine individual artworks AND saw the
initial flurry of tesserae embellish the small, child-size mannequin.

All the plotting and planning was paying dividends: It seems the eager locals were keen to try something new and were pleased to welcome someone new to their domain. Over the 9 workshops offered we tutored 92 people ranging in age from 3 years to 60 plus. All but 1 participant produced at least 1 individual mosaiced piece to take home and all contributed to the to the community artwork. The 2 workshops where no-one showed up gave us a chance to add a little direction of our own to the 2 mannequins that had made it to the centre stage- Damn they were looking good!

The workshops on Day 5 and 6 were held in Berridale and during these 2 days the embellishment was completed and rather dramatically so was the grouting! We’d done it! We had done what we had set out to do- teach people to mosaic, see some of the country-side, produce some community art AND have a break from our everyday lives! Yes, it was bloody fantastic. Yes, it was bloody exhausting. Yes, it was a learning curve. Yes, it was worth it! And Yes, I would do it all again.

The one amazing piece of this little story is how Margie Ferguson found me, Angie Parkes. Simple! She Googled “artists networks’, quickly found HAN and subsequently found ME!

And the moral to this story…HAN works in many quiet and mysterious ways- update your details, get some pics on our website and keep your fingers crossed that an amazing experience also comes your way.

Angie Parkes