Eyewitness accounts of community
WATERLOO: A wonderful group exhibition, Through the Communities’ Eyes, opened on Saturday May 27 at the Orchard Gallery in Raglan Street. The event, hosted by the South Sydney Uniting Church and sponsored by Family and Community Services, was organised by Counterpoint Community Services and the Waterloo Neighbourhood Advisory Board.
Contributors were invited to create visual and literary works which “reflect something that has meaning, whether it be a place, a moment or memory” in regards to Redfern and Waterloo.
Facilitator Charlie Aarons, a teacher at the Poets Art Group at Poets Corner, said: “Some people joined the project or come to the Poets art class because they seek a safe place to spend time with others … Others come because they enjoy the classes, activities and events on offer through services like The Factory and South Sydney Community Aid.
“Some people are long-time residents and others are relatively new … These communities [Redfern and Waterloo] are facing major redevelopment so it’s important to capture stories of them as they currently exist.”
As surprised as I was by the outpouring of talent, I would even go further and say it was stunning. I could feel that this exhibition brought new life into the gallery and displayed the community’s generous heart. The exhibition expressed the artists’ sensitivity towards their living environment – their streets, their homes, parks, public spaces, birds and so forth … and most of all the love they have for their neighbourhoods.
Although I am not currently a local resident, I felt I would like to return to this village in the middle of the busy city.
I noticed a lot of collages, which serve to endorse the unity of the diverse local population, from the lonely pensioner to the vibrant local youth, the migrant to the new resident.
Various abstract works are somehow expressive of the anxieties some people live behind, such as a work depicting the city skylines in a dark shade.
Poet Julia Martin’s “My Redfern”, beautifully printed and bound, includes evocative lines: “Lean lycra bodies/ cycle past … Homeless sit on footpaths … Hipsters sit laughing … The Martian Embassy/ once was/ Sydney Story Factory … Eveleigh Markets/ tempts with local produce … Now catwalks, art shows/ crafts and performance space … Along with/ restaurants and delis/ All join together/ to make up/ an all-embracing/ Redfern.”
I enjoyed the whole show very much and wish all the artists the very best as they continue to witness and give expression to their local community.