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Ronnie Grammatica

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As a migrant living in Regional NSW, Ronnie Grammatica is still exploring what it means to be Australian.

Stage One

Tell us about the evolution of your concept through this creative development process.

During stage 1, I’ve taken the opportunity to attend a self-directed artists residency at Wellington caves as part of the program. This has been the starting point of discussion and meetings with fellow artists in the program. An intensive creative discussion has developed during the residency with sound artist and fellow storyteller Kim Goldsmith. This conversation has prompted me to create a video work for stage 2.

What experts/community members did you connect with during your creative development?

I have been communicating with Mervyn Bishop, first Indigenous press photographer, (Dubbo) and with prominent members of the local Indigenous communities both in Port Macquarie and Kempsey (Birpai and Dhungutti country) including the LALC, to listen and learn about their perspective on the past, present and future of our region.

I’ve met and interviewed members of the Goolawah Co-operative (Kempsey). Goolawah Co-op is a land-sharing venture with the objective of building a community in an affordable rural location. The Co-op is off the grid, member houses rely on solar energy, collect rainwater and use compost toilets; and gardens supplement food supplies.

I’m communicating with Sam Mehan, he is a solar and off-grid power systems installer. Sam is from a non-Indigenous background but has been growing up by Indigenous values. Sam is an artist himself. He is the producer of ‘Blackmans Point Massacre’ (2021) documentary.

I have connected with Tia McIntyre, Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC). This is a not-for-profit organisation whose role is to support the economic development of our region and is currently working on a circular economy project. I’ve been communicating with Kerry Grace (CEO of RDAMNC) but decided to meet with Tia because of her background in the arts.

I’ve have met Kent Buchanan, Exhibition and Curator Officer of the Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo and Rachel Piercy, Director of Manning Regional Gallery, Taree as the galleries are partners of the Regional Futures program. I’m particularly interested in working with Rachel because of her knowledge of the Mid North Coast area and its communities.

I have extended my connections within my local community because of Regional Futures, including Cameron Upcroft, Principal of Crescent Head Primary School. I’m interested in listening to the younger members of our community and how they imagine the future of our region.

“Regional Futures has been a great opportunity for me to connect and engage with felllow regional artists across the state, especially those
living in adjoinging regions.”

– Ronnie Grammatica

Describe where your work has reached in the development process and how you can see it progressing.

For the final work I’m creating a video presentation, sampling ‘parallax effect’ on black and white portrait and landscape photography that will be edited with snippets of the recorded interviews of the subjects. A short sample of what this might look like has been developed, with the final work expected to be between 3-5 minutes. The aim of the video work is to explore the cultural identities and stories of individuals and places in the region and to highlight their vision for the future. The focus is on energy production, land management and food. I’m working in the media of video to convey a thorough message, using both visual and audio cues, in a concise way.

The work will be suitable for presentation in different contexts: a gallery, a temporary public art installation and digitally. I have been offered the opportunity to exhibit the work as part of a group exhibition with fellow artists from the Regional Futures program at Manning Regional Gallery in Taree as well as an immersive, sound and light projection onto the Port Macquarie Historic Courthouse in 2023.

There’s also discussion between Kim, Allison Reynolds (Regional Futures commissioned artist for the Orana region) and I as to how we can engage with a broader audience including people with disability, in and out of a gallery setting. For this purpose the video work could be extended including an audio-guide using izi.travel app, with audio and written descriptions of the work.

If you were to tell someone about the impact of Regional Futures and this creative development opportunity on your practice, what would you say to them?

Regional Futures has been a great opportunity for me to connect and engage with fellow regional artists across the state, especially with those living in adjoining regions. During the program I have been able to contrast my practice with the practice and approach of other artists I’ve met, both on and offline. This has helped me to reflect on my artistic practice. The experience is leading me to deepen my knowledge in different media and think outside the box about presentation to a broader audience.

Exhibitions Fill 1 Copy 4 Created with Sketch.

Regional Futures, (2023), Group Exhibtion, Manning Regional Art Gallery, Taree, NSW, March