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Burragorang International Artists' Workshop (April 26, 2003)

Vietnam Artist -- Tran Ngoc Anh
Australia - Tran Ngoc Anh, a Vietnamese artist and teacher at the Hue College of Arts is participating at an international workshop here from April 12 to 27.

Beneath towering sandstone cliffs in the midst of the World Heritage region of the Southern Blue Mountains, is a remote, solar-powered site, two hours from Sydney. Encamped here over two weeks, will be 25 selected artists from Australia and around the world - Aboriginal and non-Indigenous Australians, and artists from Asia, Africa, Europe, America and the Pacific. Painters, sculptors and sound artists, using techniques as diverse as their cultures - from carving to painting, to using the electronics of the solar voltaic system - will create new work in response to the place and each other. Some have established international careers, others are just starting out - all have an interest in working with nature. Campfire meals together in the dramatic landscape, with its unique plants and animals, will encourage an inspired and intensive work environment, enabling cross-cultural exchange, collaboration, experimentation, and work across disciplines.

Burragorang Artists' workshop
The concept is simple, said Alison Clouston, a sculptor, and the organizer with her musician partner, Peter Boyd. Entice artists out of their normal studios. Deposit them in a remote location with inspiring scenery. Surround them with like-minded artistic souls. Encourage them to take artistic risks. And then stand back and see what they produce.

The results have been unusual. Kaisu Koivisto, from Finland, has daubed prickly pears in plaster and is adding a woolen jumper with an elk pattern to symbolize the meeting of cultures.

Tran Ngoc Anh, from Vietnam, has created a symbolic shrine among the gum trees, though he had to abandon carving once he realized the ironbark planks he had collected were harder than he thought.

And sound artist, Kjell Samkopf, from Norway, has recorded his fellow artists performing a work he has composed in which stones were the only instruments used. "I'm a hard rock musician," he joked.

The works are visually arresting. But, Clouston insisted, the finished works are not as important as the process. "It's very easy to get isolated as a visual artist," Clouston said. "The camp is about cross-cultural activity. It's about collaboration. With visual arts, even with language difficulties, we can communicate." She also believes the project will benefit locals. Many are helping with food and transport. "A lot of these people who know and love this land, whose families have been here many generations, are going to look at the land in a completely different way after seeing what the artists have produced," she said. More details can be found at www.burragorang.org.

By Steve Meacham
From the Sydney Morning Herald


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