My wife and I recently visited the ClimArt show in Wonthaggi. The community show is the second that has been run and organised by Bron Dahlstrom of Studio 40 whose husband Ray is well known for his ‘social commentary’ art including series on ‘acid oceans’, ‘Black Saturday’ and ‘climate change’. Liane Arno writing in the Bass Coast Post described the terrifying experience of the Dahlstrom family during the 2009 Black Saturday fires and noted “Bron Dahlstrom has no doubt climate change was a factor in the 2009 bushfire that nearly killed her. ClimArt is part of her mission to spread understanding.”
Liane Arno continued: “What Bron finds extraordinary is that despite the fact that 97 per cent of scientists agree on climate change, the few doubters gain a disproportionately large share of attention, causing many lay people not to take the matter seriously. With a wide and varied group of friends and acquaintances, Bron also finds that Australians tend not to take the issue as seriously as those of European descent who are very much aware of the consequences. Could it be that it is part of the Australian psyche to distrust academics and politicians?” and “If you think you can help to get the message about climate change across to people through your art, Bron encourages you to enter the art show. “It can be poetry, painting, sculpture, jewellery, video, performing art, or writing. Anything that tells the story of climate change. We hold the world in our hands.”
The show has had a wide range of community support and the various prizes (with donors) offered in both visual art and the literary categories include: Wonthaggi Medical Group Award for Best Painting; Goat Island Gallery Award for Best 3D; Crossover Cycles Highly Commended Award for 3D; Sunscape Electrical/Gippsland Solar award for Best Mixed Media; JB Insurance Highly Commended Award for Mixed Media; Studio 40 Award for Best Work under $300; EcoLiv Winners’ Literary and Performance Award; Country Fresh Herbs Youth Art Winner’s Award; Wheel Heat Youth Art Highly Commended Award and Serious Surf Stuff Youth Art Highly Commended Award.
The visual art winners were as follows: ‘Tree Deaths’ by Norma Stack Robinson won the 3D Award, ‘High Tide at Lake Reeves’ won the Mixed Media Award for Lisa Timms-Stevens and ‘Armageddon for all’ by Ken Griffiths won the Best Painting.
Of interest was the artist’s climate statement that accompanied each entry. Overall the impression was just how difficult it is to convey any message on climate change artistically and many works featured environmental aspects such as the plastic scourge – at best peripheral to the theme. Personally I preferred the more abstract works of the visual artists. Art is another tool to convey the threat and the solutions to the existential threat of climate change. The show at Artworks continues until June the 18. Hopefully there will be a bigger and better show next year.