Bringing new life to an unloved shed

Bringing new life to an unloved shed

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Clancy McDowell, Kimberley Arts Network. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Kimberley region now has its very own community focussed arts space. ‘The Shed’ has been established by the Kimberley Arts Network in Broome and opened its doors on 15 October.

The Kimberley is often touted as a wildly creative region, with nationally-significant Indigenous art centres, and legendary musicians, performers and dancers. However, the remote region lacks cultural infrastructure; there’s no regional gallery, no multi-arts centre, no cultural centre or a community art space… until now.

Smoking ceremony outside of a shed. Image: Maxine Charlie and Natasha Matsumoto from Nyamba Buru Yawuru perform a smoking for the new Kimberley Arts Network shed. Photo courtesy of Kimberley Arts Network

The Kimberley Arts Network opened the doors to its new home and office with a smoking ceremony and ‘thank you’ to volunteers and supporters. The space is now light, bright and functional. The evening saw the fresh new space revealed to those who’d worked hard on cleaning and painting and thanked many in the community who’d lent a hand or sponsored some equipment. To give them an idea of how the shed would be used, artist Adam Douglas led a quick life drawing session, even getting local Kimberley MP Divina D’Anna to try her hand at sketching the life model.

Kimberley Arts Network’s Clancy McDowell has driven the shed project, with a vision of an accessible and welcoming space that supports the development of arts and culture for the region.

A life model stands with her arms raised in the centre of a group of people painting her on canvas. Image: Life drawing has become a popular weekly activity. Photo Courtesy of Kimberley Arts Centre.

In a previous life, the little green shed was the old Scout Hall. But it had been abandoned and empty since 2018. Kimberley Arts Network was able to secure it from the Shire of Broome for five years, and with a lot of elbow grease and a lick of paint it’s been transformed into an art centre. Clancy McDowell is now excited to be able to use the dedicated space.

Kimberley Arts Network aims to make the space usable 12 months of the year in the harsh Kimberley climate. But that will require capital investment to install windows, aircon and other upgrades. In the meantime, they are moving forward and utilising it in its current state.

Five adults and a toddler sit and stand, watching as a woman officially opens the shed. She holds a clipboard in one hand and has her other arm outstretched. Image: Deputy Chair of Kimberley Arts Network Naomie Hatherley launches the shed. Photo courtesy of Kimberley Arts Network.

Local painter, Amelia Jajko has been one of the weekly life drawing facilitators. Amelia is delivering a series of ‘Painting Fundamentals’ workshops in the Shed. It shows how the Shed can support the development of regional arts and offer additional income for artists as they share skills and grow their profile.

Two women stand smiling in front of taped up life drawing sketched on butchers paper. Image: Kimberley Arts Network Secretary and Kimberley MP Divina D’Anna with some of the life drawing works. Photo courtesy of Kimberley Arts Network

Facilities like Kimberley Arts Network’s Shed are the engine rooms for the regional cultural sector. Annually, Kimberley Arts Network runs the Broome Fringe Festival, arts events for Shinju Matsuri, and ‘art above the 26th’. Clancy Dowell explains these events grow the regional cultural economy and raise the profile of local creative practitioners.

Community art spaces like the KAN Shed add to the liveability of the regions by supporting valued arts activities that enhances community wellbeing; ‘liyan’ in the language of many Kimberley Indigenous groups. The space is a hub of collegial connection for arts professionals and KAN’s monthly ‘socials’ will kick off in November.

Kimberley Arts Network is very excited about The Shed and what it can offer as people engage with its programs and bring ideas and opportunities to the space. However, there’s more to be done and KAN is already dreaming big about the gardens, the ceramics shed and what more can be done. Watch this space!

Find out more about The Shed and stay up to date with all the activities over on the Kimberley Arts Network website.

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