By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The inaugural Draw on the Mountain festival not only created a world first, but lured visitors to and around the region and resulted in overnight stays.
The 10-day long drawing festival in September hosted the world’s first sketchbook trail competition as part of its workshops, talks and exhibitions program.
Participants toured key Blue Mountains and Lithgow destinations including Norman Lindsay Gallery at Faulconbridge, Lithgow Blast Furnace Park, Lawson waterfalls, Scenic World and the streets of Leura and Katoomba creating sketches for the sketchbook competition.
The judges for the exhibition (Lost Bear Gallery owner Geoff White, National Art School lecturer and artist Jeff Rigby and Wild Valley Art Park director and artist and Selena Seifert) agreed that the standard of entries for the inaugural exhibition was exceptional.
More than 80 sketchbooks were entered into the competition, including an under-16 section.
However, they could only award one winner for the $5000 acquisitive prize donated by Wild Valley Art Park at Wentworth Falls –Robert Shepherd of Glebe, who travelled and stayed at Katoomba during several days to complete his sketchbook.
He said the experience was “a unique way to tour the Blue Mountains and work in the drawing medium while creatively responding the unique environment’’.
Shepherd discovered the Draw on the Mountain competition through an email received from artsHub and believed it would be “an ideal opportunity to immerse myself in the mountains and draw this environment of wonderful expanse as well as intimate nature, not to mention its local community and its tourism culture’’.
He spent five days, “from early morning until late afternoon, in a multitude of environments, experiences and weather conditions including howling gales while drawing at Norman Lindsay Gallery and an affable encounter with a small contingent of enthusiastic elderly Chinese tourists lining up to have their photos taken with me and my drawing on the Scenic World observation deck’’.
“The mountains threw me a few challenges and a whole lot of rewards,’’ Shepherd said. “One thing that was truly rewarding though, was to see so many artists out and about drawing in their sketchbooks, a rare sight in today’s modern art practices.
“I’m a ‘plein air’ drawer: observation of the real world is the greatest teacher. And one thing that I always make myself conscious of when drawing, is that when I draw a mark on a piece of paper, the importance, strength or weakness of that mark is not governed by the way it has been put down, but the way that mark responds to the other marks around it, the way it responds to its environment.
“The Blue Mountains area is a truly beautiful place and a great teacher, whether it’s about drawing, nature or the people that live there or visit.
“I found myself becoming like the marks I was drawing, gaining strength in an environment that was challenging, inspiring, wonderful.’’
Wild Valley Art Park, Blaxland Rd, Wentworth Falls, is owned by artist Selena Seifert and her husband and business partner Jasper Russell. They bought the magnificent 17 acre property two years ago and have transformed it into an eco arts centre, sculpture garden and artist retreat.
Go to www.wildvalley.com.au for more details.
Got to www.drawonthemountain.com.au to see more photos by Emma Rowan-Kelly of the Draw on the Mountain festival.