Interview with local Artist Deborah Page
All images are from Deborah’s, 2019 Graduation Show in Lismore
It’s time for another dose of local inspiration. This week we were really lucky to have been able to pinch a little time with the lovely Deborah Page, she is a UNE Alumna, an incredible artist about to embark on a brilliant residency opportunity, an entrepreneur collaborating with the team from Renew Armidale and an honours student – talk about juggling!
Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your time with us, Deborah!
How did you end up in Armidale?
I’m a third-generation Armidale born and bred. I have moved away on occasions but always gravitate back home. 😊
When did you first realise you were creative?
I’ve always had an artistic bent and would be found drawing rather than playing outdoors as a child. I am primarily a painter where painting is a broad term that incorporates mixed media, drawing, printmaking, photography, and digital media.
You’re the founder of a-arts precinct, an artist lead studio space – can you tell us how the idea for this space came about?
Having spent the last three years sharing studio space with young and enthusiastic art students, the idea of working alone seemed rather depressing. Skill sharing and cross-disciplinary collaboration is inspiring. Having a dedicated space to paint and create is important for me. A space that is separate from home allows for a healthy work, life balance.
How did a-arts precinct come about
It came from the idea above with some assistance from a great local initiative – Renew Armidale, without them, a-arts precinct would not exist. The Renew team was so encouraging and appreciate the potential of creative practices and activities to breathe life into the Armidale CBD.
How can artists get involved with a-arts precinct?
Sharing a creative space allows artists to engage in practical skill-sharing and cross-disciplinary collaboration. In addition, an open studio enables alternative and engaging ways for the public to encounter artists and their practices.
a-arts precinct currently has studio and exhibition space available, artists can contact us via Facebook.
Has a-arts precinct How had to pivot due to COVID?
Oh yes. Galleries across the nation were closed during the COVID 19 lockdown with a-arts precinct being no exception. Restrictions have meant that some planned activities have been postponed however, this time has allowed a-arts precinct to spend some valuable time planning our future direction. The ‘soft’ launch of a-arts precinct has allowed us to respond to feedback, adjusting programs, and activities accordingly. Keep watching this space!
Why is it so important for us to support local artists in the community?
Artists are a fundamental component of a healthy community. The arts enrich and create meaning in people’s lives with the capacity to unify communities, activate spaces, tourism, and economic activity, supplement education and improve health while shining the spotlight on local, national, and global issues.
Rural, regional and remote locations are unique, complex and a significant part of Australian identity, defined in part by history and landscape. Arts activities and projects can re-define such locations in new and positive ways, providing both residents and visitors with a strong sense of a community’s unique identity.
With travel restriction lifted in NSW, I have had many out of town visitors giving positive feedback for a new venture and are enthusiastic for something a little different and unexpected in a regional area.
a-arts precinct places artists and creative practices in the CBD of Armidale with the awareness that artists and creative practice are central to this community.
The earth without art is just ‘eh’.
What should we be looking forward to?
a-arts precinct collaboration with Armidale Art Gallery allows for a vibrant, ever-changing display that enhances our Central Mall location. Still Life and Plein Air Drawing/Painting sessions along with a series of artist talks are planned. Warmer weather will be more conducive to these activities.
You’re juggling a lot! You’re also doing your honours!
Yes. Having recently completed a Bachelor Art Design through Southern Cross University in Lismore I knew it was time to return to Armidale full-time. However, I couldn’t imagine not studying. Undertaking Honours provides an incentive to continue painting and creating and a deadline that helps keep me on track. I enjoy learning and the academic stimulation that Honours provide.
You’re also just about to embark on an artist’s residency, can you please tell us about this?
I was awarded the 2019 Helen Dangar Bursary by NERAM that allows me to undertake a month-long residency in Lightning Ridge. This residency will provide me the opportunity to research the lived experience of women confronting a harsh, isolated landscape, that contrasts my own New England landscape. It will allow me the time to immerse myself in the region and my research. It will provide the opportunity to produce a body of work from a self-directed project, without distractions.
Where you find your inspiration?
There are multiple artist-run spaces throughout Australia with a history of providing opportunities for both emerging and established artists, serving the needs of their unique location and community. I am particularly inspired by those in regional areas, such as The Cad Factory in Narrandera.
What is one message you would give to any aspiring artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs?
Don’t listen to people that tell you it won’t work. If you are doing it, it is working.
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about being a part of the New England community?
The New England Community is my past and, more importantly, my future. It’s where I belong and where I’ll stay.
Thank you so much for your time, Deborah! We’re so excited to have you as a part of our community and can’t wait to see where your journey takes you! All the best with your Lightning Ridge Residency – we will be following along on Instagram and Facebook.