Arts & Culture

2019 Year in Review – Arts & Culture

Amy McPhillips30 December 2019

Our 2019 arts and culture stories reflected the breadth of the interests of our readers from across the region. We covered music, cultural events, arts festivals and the achievements of locals on stage and screen. We showcased the region’s award winners, visited a selection of cultural venues and captured everything that’s wonderful about the local arts scene.

Here’s a look back at some of the top stories of the year.

10. The sculpture competition creating pride and community, and one very surprising garden
by Lisa Herbert

Philip Cox AO, and Janet Hawley opened their bush retreat to lovers of sculpture. Photo: Lisa Herbert

Philip Cox AO, and Janet Hawley opened their bush retreat to lovers of sculpture. Photos: Lisa Herbert.

In November, we visited Thubbul, the coastal retreat of Australian architect Philip Cox’s family since the 1960s. We were there in the magnificent bush retreat at an event garner support, patronage, and sponsorship for Sculpture Bermagui, one of the region’s premier events held over 10 days each March.

“All the winners of the Bermagui Sculpture competition are here on the property, evidence of the continuance of the prize. The pieces really have become part of the landscape,” Philip said.

9. Four generations navigate a new & exciting arts scene in Tanja Church
by Elka Wood

Louise Morris in one of the studio spaces on the grounds of the Tanja church, now owned by Louise, her partner Matt and her mother and grandmother. Photo: Elka Wood.

Louise Morris in one of the studio spaces on the grounds of the Tanja church, now owned by Louise, her partner Matt and her mother and grandmother. Photo: Elka Wood.

The old Tanja Church has had an injection of new life with the arrival of a former lecturer in arts and performance, a production manager and four generations living on the grounds, we wrote in May. It’s fitting that one of the new owners – Louise Morris – has a PhD which focuses on how sites hold history. Her passion is for site-specific theatre, creating performances in locations as diverse as an old abattoir in her previous home in Melbourne.

Now Louise and her partner, Matt, are working towards using the church as a performance space and creative hub for the community.

8. Merimbula whale mural grows as town watches on
by Ian Campbell

Simon Thomas from Chalk Talk Inc. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Simon Thomas from Chalk Talk Inc. Photo: Ian Campbell.

In April, jaws dropped in awe as residents and visitors to Merimbula watched Simon Thomas work his magic creating a massive marine mural on the side of Club Sapphire. The thrust of the work is to make people feel good and soften the harsh built environment of this already stunning seaside location.

“This is a natural progression, this is such a beautiful place physically and we wanted to capture a little bit of that,” said the artist.

7. Tathra Pub Choir – ‘titanium’ strong after first week
by Elka Wood

Musician and music teacher Robyn Martin, of Candelo, led the first-ever Tathra pub Choir on the 7th February. Photos: Elka Wood

In February, we reported that singers from all over the Bega Valley had together for Tathra’s first-ever pub choir, an event organised by Anne Hamilton-Foster and funded by a $999 grant from Bega Valley Shire Council, part of the Tathra and District Fire Recovery and Resistance grants. And crowd in Tathra clearly agreed that getting together to have a warble was therapeutic.

6. Rebellion starts in Bermagui for fashion designer Simone Ellis
by Contributor

Simone Ellis, La Studio owner. Photo: Sienna Turton

Simone Ellis, La Studio owner. Photo: Sienna Turton

During 2019, Bermagui’s Simone Ellis seized an opportunity offered by an Instagram post, added crowdfunding and a whole heap of rope, packed a surfboard bag with her high-end fashion designs and headed to the runways of New York Fashion Week. In March, we reported that independent fashion designer Simone showcased eight of her extraordinary designs at the Flying Solo show, one of the most cutting-edge and innovative events of NYFW.

5. National Geographic recognises three South East photographers
by Elise Searson

Eastern Quoll, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania. Photo: Charles Davis.

Eastern Quoll, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania. Photo: Charles Davis.

It doesn’t get much better than National Geographic when it comes to wildlife photography and this year three photographers from South East NSW were nominees in the Nature Photographer of the Year final. We caught up with photographer Charles Davis on his home turf in the Snowy Mountains for a closer look at his incredible images and to learn more about his art.

4. Batemans Bay Aboriginal boy scouted for Australian film – Smoke Between Trees
by Elise Searson

Robert-Joseph Slockee. Photo: MIFF

It can be a long arduous journey before an actor will get their first lead role in a feature film but for Batemans Bay born Robert-Joseph Slockee, fate presented a much grander plan during 2019.

“As soon as I saw his photo I just knew he was Ari,” explains producer Michael Joy who drove from Syndey to Robert’s Canberra home as soon as he saw the boy’s photo.

3. Frankie J Holden, a life in the spotlight while based in the Bega Valley
by Ian Campbell

Frankie J Holden at Tathra Beachside, a caravan park he is part owner in. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Frankie J Holden at Tathra Beachside, a caravan park he is part owner in. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Frankie J Holden was run ragged after his Logie win this year, but found time to chat to About Regional from his home base in the Bega Valley. He spoke about what he’d been up to on stage and screen, and why he chooses to live a long way from the bright lights of his trade. You can listen to our full interview with Frankie by clicking the link above.

2. Local wedding becomes a ‘festival of love’ at Mogo
by Elise Searson

Stuart Absolon and Kelly Henderson at their wedding in Mogo. Photos: Elise Searson.

In March, we shared the story of Mogo couple Stuart Absolon and Kelly Henderson, who opened their hearts to the community by turning their wedding into a music festival and an emotional celebration of local culture.

“We also wanted to get married so we figured if we made a festival out of our sacred union celebration it would make us do it, rather than leave it forever as a dream,” Stuart said.

1. 60,000 years of traditional aboriginal medicine touches the spirit of Katungul
by Elise Searson

Debbie Grant. Photo: Elise Searson.

Batemans Bay was gifted 60,000 years of traditional medicine with guest Ngangkari or Aboriginal healers spent two days at Katungul in June re-centring the spirit of their patients. There wasn’t one person who came out of the healers’ room un-rattled, in a good way, and it had such a profound effect on first-timer Debbie Grant that she returned in tears. Here’s a look back at the event.

Join us again tomorrow as we reveal the top news stories that had you talking in 2019.

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