The Spirit of Farming with Mary

This is an archived copy of an event that has already passed. It is online for informational purposes only.
  • Date:
  • Location: Mary Valley, Not Assigned 0000 Queensland

a surge of art in the landscape,
in 4 farming villages of south-east Queensland's hinterland
Winter 2005

a laboratory on how to share contemporary art
between international artists and rural villages
19-29th June 2005

The Spirit of Farming with Mary

Art, seen as a sharing experience

Farming with Mary is not only an ephemeral contemporary "art centre" that will show monumental works on an unconventional scene. It consists primarily into the combination of 4 farming villages of the Sunshine Coast hinterland and contemporary artists from all over the world, sharing between them the best they have to give and receive. The villages bring their territory, hospitality, assistance, meals and feasts. The artists bring their "acts of art", new and unexpected interpretations of the landscape, created for it, about it, offered to it.

The inhabitants organise the event, they ensure the logistics and provide the hospitality. They do not receive, as is usually the case, a "cultural package" parachuted on them from somewhere else, ready made and supposed to "do them good". They invite the artists in their homes, they share their meals with them. They welcome this art, here and now, for the sake of pleasure.

The artists, used to site-specific interventions, dedicated to the shape, spirit, memory, function… of a place, experiment the social dimension of that place. Coming from Canada, France, Germany, Korea, Italy, South Africa, they discover, far from the museum, a population who has not been initiated to contemporary art, but who not only is their passionate public, but also "curates" and "commissions" them. This is a very reassuring discovery: a large, unexpected part of the population would be ready to share contemporary art, without concessions?

Art and Nature

For the last 30 years, a few artists have gone back to nature, not as a subject or a model for their artworks, but as the place and material for their creation.

The artists of Farming with Mary are a prominent part of this movement. They believe that their artwork exist more intensely if it is dedicated to a place and a context. They believe more in the necessity of the "act of art" than in the conservation of the work. They live for the act and are ready to accept that their work will dissolve into the natural cycle. This act is rather a dialogue with nature than the usage of nature as a material or a flattering frame. They also accept that their process of creation be witnessed from a different cultural, lingual, and educational point of view…

The maintenance of the art pieces, if it was to become necessary, is not guaranteed. It is provided, case-by-case, by the inhabitants who would eventually wish to prolong the life of this or that piece. Otherwise, the artists accept that their trace will eventually be erased, as soon as it is not legible, nature having the last word…

The fragility and the hesitation of the creation process, accentuated by the confrontation with nature, corresponds to the uncertainty of the farming process. This will contribute to the communion of the two communities.

14 artists, 10 farmers and 4 bridges

Farming with Mary will principally involve ten international environmental artists, ten host farmers, and 4 regional artists.

For the first time in Australia, and for a change, art will be created on a farm, FOR that specific farm, or on the neighborhood of a bridge, FOR that bridge. It will happen in the villages of Imbil, Kandanga, Amamoor and Dagun.

The international artists will come from diverse multi-cultural backgrounds (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Poland) with a wide range of experiences and deep traditions, and different approaches to water issues, or maybe not…
Carlotta Brunetti, Germany/Italy
Ludy Feyen, The Netherlands
François Fréchet, France
Roger Gaudreau, Québec, Canada
Irene Hoppenberg, Germany
Cornelia Konrads, Germany
Anne Mangeot, France
Byoung-Tak Moon, Korea
Ludwika Ogorzelec, France/Poland
Bong-Gi Park, Korea

Looking at a regional issue through quite different eyes could provide the farmers and the regional artists with new ways of looking at their own territory. They will arrive in the Mary Valley, on Sunday June 19th by the Mary Valley Heritage Rail (the Rattler) and be met at the appropriate stops by their ten farm hosts. For ten days they will live with the families, who will accommodate and share their meals with them. The art pieces will be made, mainly, with natural materials available on-site.

Four regional artists will each choose the surroundings of a bridge in each of the 4 villages.

Margaret McArdle, Jolian Solomon, Maree Edmiston-Prior, Liz Woods   

The focus will be on the sharing experience, on the process. The resulting art pieces will therefore be possibly ephemeral. They should be visible at least until the end of August.

A project that fits with the Mary Valley "landscape"

For those who know the Mary Valley, it is not a surprise that of all the South East Queensland districts, it is where « Farming with Mary » decide to settle.

One and a half hour drive from Brisbane Airport, with an open window on the world, it is a rural territory that is surprisingly little affected by the inconveniences of modern life.

The Cooloola Shire extends from the Fraser Island Coast to the hills of The Mary Valley. Gympie is the economic centre of the shire but the population is scattered around many small villages, each of them keeping its own character. The tradition of welcoming for newcomers and helping from farm to farm is still very much part of the way of life here.

The low density of population has left very large wild areas, seemingly untouched by human enterprises.

The proximity with the Sunshine Coast, only 40 minutes away by car, with its international fashionable lifestyle, does not seem to have changed a "very Australian" culture. 

In this context, the four villages of Amamoor, Dagun, Imbil and Kandanga have already developed a major project. The Mary Valley Heritage Railway is a venerable steam train that brings visitors to explore the valley from Gympie to Imbil and back. The "Rattler" links the villages, 3 times a week. Each village has proudly restored their own station and its surroundings.

This is real country where dairy farms, pineapple and mango orchards are side by side with large Limousin, Brahman and Charolais studs. The Mary Valley remains, at the same time, true to its roots and adventurous enough to decide to get engaged in an experimental event of Contemporary Art.

Should that surprise us that much? Let us remember that this area has had to modify its activities many times in the last few generations: logging pioneers, extensive cattle properties, pineapple expansion reached a quasi monoculture on the hills, before diversification and the development of agri-industries.

Often ignored by the media, this small region surprises the visitors who would like to stay there longer, if there was enough places to stay. The few Bed and Breakfasts and very few cabins are booked in advance most of the time.

The last -but principal- reason why this project fits so well in the area is that it is being implemented by the farmers and associations of the Mary Valley.

It could not be more relevant.

Agenda of public events

Saturday 11th June 6pm Project Kick-off Gympie Public Gallery

Sunday 19th - Artists arrive to be picked up at each Rattler station

Monday  20th -
Tuesday 21st -

Wednesday 22nd 6:30 Winter Solstice Feast/dinner, Imbil Community Hall. $5 p/person

Thursday 23rd -
Friday 24th -

Saturday 25th
1:30pm Artists Workshops, Dagun Station. Free.
8pm Kandanga, Bush Dance
Old Kandanga Saw Mill (signed from Station)
$12 adults, includes camping fee. Free under 15

Sunday 26th -.
Monday 27th -

Tuesday 28th 6:30pm Farewell Dinner Amamoor - Community Hall - $5

Wednesday 29th 8:30am Public visit of art pieces. Starts at Dagun Station. Ends up in last farm, Brooloo, around noon. Free, drive your own car.

Thursday 7th July 6pm Mary Valley Art Festival Opening Night, Imbil Hall : Projected images and words by Francois Davin. - Free.

Visitors directions

The 4 art pieces created by the regional artists, in the surroundings of a bridge at each of the 4 villages will be visible to everyone from June 29, at least until the end of July.

The 10 art pieces created on the farms by the international artists can be seen free of charge from 9am to 12 noon, on the 3 first Sundays of July. Outside these times the public can visit by prior appointment with the farmers, from June 29 until the end of July,

A brochure will be available in the Information Points* and at the Gympie Tourism Office, from June 15. It will include a map showing the location of the art pieces, present the artists, give the telephone numbers of the host farmers, the location of the exhibitions in local Agri-Businesses, and the agenda of the public events.

Each Information Point will show a sign with the logo. Each art piece location will also be signalled.

* Dagun Station, Amamoor Souvenir Shop, Kandanga Shop, Imbil's Peppers at the Empire, Jones Hill Shop.

Partners of Farming with Mary

Farming with Mary is a project of the Cooloola Shire Public Gallery.
It has been conceived and is coordinated by François Davin, a French artist and one of the main contributors to the site-specific global movement, who now lives, creates and farms in Kandanga.
It is supported by the Queensland Government, Arts Queensland, and the Cooloola Shire Council.
It is actively implemented by the Friends of Amamoor, Dagun Station, the Friends of Imbil, the Friends of Kandanga, Landcare Gympie, the Friends of the Cooloola Shire Public Gallery, the Mary Valley Steam Train, the Art Department of the Gympie State High School,

Information :
François Davin, 5, Hyne Estate Road, Kandanga QLD 4570 - 07 54 84 32 47 - 04 08 149 111


Map Location ( get directions )

Mary Valley, Not Assigned

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