Held on the weekend of August 10 and 11, this year’s annual Surf Coast Arts Trail is loaded with every form of art you can think of. Artists, studios, and galleries have been busy preparing their artwork and art spaces for the annual event where they will open their doors and invite you to explore pottery, jewellery-making, blacksmithing, painting, woodwork and so much more.
Returning to the trail this year is Deans Marsh artist Kellyann Vaughan, who gathers, untangles and cleans kilometres of fishing wire and rope that she finds along the Surf Coast beaches and beyond in the name of art. We had a chat with her ahead of the event.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the path that led you to explore weaving as an art form?
Well art and creativity for me has always made sense, not in an intellectual format but more of an intuitive expression. I feel out of the way of thought when I work. For me it’s a different type of listening, and I believe art can serve in helping process the world around. Weaving really took off for me when my son, now nearly 21, was young. Perhaps it was all the walks in nature and slowing down to be more immersed in my surroundings.
Did you try many other mediums and forms in your path as an artist?
Just that tried ~ painting, drawing, print-making, photography, introductory silver-smithing.
Your art addresses the use of plastic waste, which is a topic that is increasing in conversation every day. Can you tell us a bit about your view here?
Firstly how positive it is that there are so many people doing great work around waste. There is such momentum with increased awareness about the human impact on our planet. Sadly though, there’s still so much washed up on our beautiful beaches from the fishing industry: ropes, nets, jigs with gnarly hooks, bait pots, etc. It breaks your heart to see marine life injured, or worse die, necessarily from human impact. That’s partly why I began to re-purpose what I was finding. I’ve also found it’s a great way to spark conversation and raise awareness. We have such a responsibility for others to come who will share this environment.
We understand you’ve been collecting detritus from the fishing industry across SC beaches for more than a decade, which you then clean and weave it into beautiful sculptural forms. Can you tell us a bit about detritus?
Detritus being just that – waste! It makes sense to me when it’s organic in its form so it breaks down. The natural world is so good at this, but boy I am kind of overwhelmed with the amount of unnecessary discard. Flotsam and jetsam just sticks around. It’s so harmful in the waterways. We shouldn’t disconnect as we are a part of cause and effect in our environment. It’s a concern when we think so short-term, so it’s important we all do our bit to be helpful and informed.
Using this to create art, what’s the main message you’re trying to convey in your artworks?
I didn’t deliberately set out to convey a message. To re-purpose the detritus was my way of coming to terms and understanding that it wasn’t going into landfill somewhere else. I then saw the potential to rely on the visual woven structure to help tell the story of how I was responding to the amount of detritus I was collecting off the shoreline. These woven pieces have a long shelf-life with no used by date!
What do you love about the Surf Coast Arts Trail?
What a fantastic opportunity, discovery of wonderful artists and their practice. It’s great to see that the arts are celebrated by an engaged and supportive community!
As it is letting people inside your studios; is it a hard thing to let someone into your creative space like that?
I guess it depends on the individual artist. Some are introverts of extroverts. As for me, my kitchen table is my studio, how funny that no one eats at the table in our house. I am thankful the Deans Marsh Store will are having me back again for this Arts Trail.
You’re also the winner of the inaugural Arts Development Seed Fund, DETRITUS. Congratulations! What does this award mean to/for you?
I am so very grateful for this award. It’s wonderful for me and my fellow artists to be recognised, together as a team, and to feel the support. For art to be backed and recognised in such a generous way can only bring great things, not just now, but into the future for all recipients.
Any last words of wisdom you’d like to add for our readers?
Let’s all try and participate in keeping a reduced footprint on our environment.
You can find Kellyann Vaughan at The Store in Deans Marsh across the weekend. For more information and to stay up-to-date with the artists featured in this year’s event, visit www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/artstrail.