Customs House Artspace and EMAI By Anne Mawson
The Echuca Moama Arts Initiative (the Arts Initiative) has been running the Customs House building in the Port of Echuca as an Artspace since December 2013. Under a peppercorn lease arrangement, the Shire of Campaspe had provided the building to the group initially for a six-month period and then on a month-to-month basis. During that time the Arts Initiative has run 15 separate art exhibitions.
The well-positioned building has been open to the public everyday from 10am – 4pm, with a reliable group of volunteers willing to dedicate their time to keep the doors open. The exhibition program aims to be diverse and inclusive of all sectors of the local arts community.
So far Customs House has hosted: Ross Patterson, landscape painting; Art12 – Class of 2013 Regional Year 12 Art Exhibition Arts Amalgamated – group show featuring a range of leading local artists; Tania Flower – Indigenous Artist; Brian Nunan – Castlemaine based artist who paints the bush on a grand scale; Ben Winspear and Scott Wileman – Painting and ceramics; NAIDOC Week aboriginal community show; Tuesday Junction Contemporary Art Group Winter Blues Festival Show; Mal Gilmour – Landscapes and the Rathbone Collection; Buddhas from a Bottleshop – the installation art of John Bradley from Melbourne; Suzie O’Shea – Ceramicist from Bendigo – Frocks of Clay; The Gallery Shop – featuring local handmade produce for the holiday season; Art12 – Class of 2014 Regional Year 12 Art Exhibition; Drop the Dogs – group textile art show; Faces of the South West – Photography Exhibition and this month John Anderson New Ornithology Paintings.
The Arts Initiative’s long term goal is to secure a building as a permanent multi-purpose Art Space in Echuca Moama. As documented in the Art Space Feasibility Study and Business Case report presented to the Campaspe Council last year, the Old Town Hall building in High Echuca is the preferred location for this facility. Until the Old Town Hall becomes available in less than 2 years time, the Arts Initiative hopes to continue to run the Customs House building as a temporary Artspace. This will allow the group to further develop a management structure for an Artspace, capitalize on sponsorship and funding opportunities and continue to provide a focus for the local arts community.
The original lease has now finished, and the arrangement with the Shire of Campaspe is for the Artspace to remain in the building until the end of September this year. The group is in discussions with the Campaspe Shire about moving to another building so that our arts program can continue in some format.
The Echuca Moama Arts Initiative strives to raise the profile of the Arts in our region and has run and supported a range of activities since it was set up in 2011. Mini Arts Festival, Pop-up Art Project, Youth Paint Wars, Monthly Newsletter of Arts Events, Facebook Page and more. This year, the group hopes to establish a website to provide a means for arts enthusiasts to find out what’s on in the region and connect with other like-minded people.
Ever since Customs House Artspace was established, strong connections have been made between all sectors of the arts community, from indigenous groups, young people, textile artists and traditional painters have all contributed to the everstrengthening arts network.
We believe the arts are a vital part of a community’s lifeline and we have proven that it is alive and kicking in Echuca Moama.
If you would like to join EMAI or volunteer at Customs House please call Anne on 0429168424.