Local Insights – Central West NSW
Central West NSW is situated on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri Nation. It includes large regional centres like Bathurst and Orange alongside many smaller towns, and is home to a vast array of culinary and cultural delights. Conversations with locals from the towns of Kandos and Bathurst confirm the regions reputation for a warm welcome and spirit of curiosity. The strength of this community comes through loud and clear, and the hope of being able to gather again in person is key.
RAA: What do you miss?
Karen Golland (Artist Website): I've only just starting to realise what I've been missing. It's been such a rollercoaster. I recently installed work at The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, and when I walked into the gallery, I was awash with all kinds of emotion. I kept walking around the space thinking—this is fantastic! These artists are fantastic! Art is fantastic! I couldn't believe how much I had missed visiting art spaces.
Alex Wisser (Cementa, Kandos School of Cultural Adaption): Well of course I miss the people. Art is for me an essentially social activity and I love its capacity to bring people together to share in the making, the showing, and the experience of art. All other activity, from work to most forms of leisure are dedicated to other ends, while art is essentially a devised opportunity to get together … It’s why art is so often associated with community.
RAA: What do you need?
Karen Golland: I need more stability for the arts sector as a whole. It's been heartbreaking to watch so many suffer during Covid-19 times. I feel exhausted. Like many artists, I responded well to isolation. What I haven't coped with is the uncertainty. I've had to make hard decisions, and they've taken up much of my time and energy. Now I'm on the other side of those decisions; I feel more at ease. I'm looking forward to maintaining a change in pace. I’m coming out of this time with less commitments, knowing I will have more time to work on the ideas I’ve chosen.
Alex Wisser: I have no idea. The world seems very still, like someone hit pause or muted the volume and I am waiting for the noise and the action to start up again. It’s very spooky and it is something I can honestly say I have never experienced in my life; nothing I ever could have predicted I would experience.
RAA: What does a vibrant cultural landscape in your region of Australia look like?
Karen Golland: The cultural landscape in Central West NSW is ever-changing. As regional artists, we’re building strength; growing opportunities in our home towns instead of relying on city-based ways to earn our contemporary art stripes … A vibrant cultural landscape in Central West NSW breathes alongside the cultural landscapes of other regions and metropolitan centres. We're not just a box on a grant application form; we're a living and vital part of the Australian arts ecosystem.
Alex Wisser: It looks like a community, which means it is diverse, and includes people who don't always agree with each other but who work together, talk to each other, and hold one another in relative respect despite the sometimes difficult nature of our differences. I think it involves artists and audiences who exist as a sustained community of support for the continuous production of a culture that might not always be self evident, that takes risks, that is willing to be confusing, unknown, unexpected, challenging, but also that reflects the values and experiences of that same community.