From Kings Cross to WA’s Rural Utopias with Sarah Rodigari

From Kings Cross to WA’s Rural Utopias with Sarah Rodigari

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council. 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!

Sarah Rodigari, an artist whose practice addresses the social and political potential of art, came from her home in Kings Cross to connect with the Shire of Ravensthorpe community as a participant in the Spaced 4: Rural Utopias Project.

In responding to the theme of Rural Utopias Sarah immersed herself in our community to explore the existing and historical local host organisations and record conversations with locals. This she did in casual and planned meetings on the street, walking on the beach, at work places, or having a drink at the pub. These connections enabled Sarah to give residents the opportunity to express their thoughts, opinions and stories about living in our rural area.

Sarah Rodigari conducting community conversations for the Regional Utopias project. Picture by Dene Bingham.

Sarah’s positivity and willingness to share experiences were delightfully demonstrated when she visited the Hopetoun ukulele group. A ukulele was placed in her hands (an instrument she had never played) and after a few instructions she was prompted to play along. And she did, declaring it to be the best fun.

There was also a report from the Hopetoun ‘Merlot Club’ on Sarah’s enjoyment in socialising with its members and no doubt collecting many interesting snippets of conversations. In interacting with ‘Southern Scribes’, ‘Men in Sheds’ and ‘FQM’ Sarah was able to further explore the diversity of views on offer.

Locals, Fiona and Ray, were among those visited by Sarah. She went for a 40-minute chat and ended up staying for over two hours. They responded to Sarah’s effervescent personality and felt that her excellent counselling skills encouraged them to explore the depths of their personal journeys and relate how their passion for developing a garden, based on ‘wickering’ principles, had given them a wonderful connection to the Hopetoun/Ravensthorpe communities. The lushness of Fiona and Ray’s garden amazed Sarah. She couldn’t help contrasting it with the confines of her small Kings Cross apartment. Locals who engaged with Sarah found her to be a good listener, always receptive and non¬-judgmental of opinions expressed and stories told.

It was the sound bites from these conversations that formed the basis of Sarah’s presentation at the Hopetoun CRC. An enthusiastic audience, many of whom had contributed to the collected conversations, listened as Sarah read from strips of paper spread across a table. On these strips were extracts from the conversations, and the audience was absorbed in hearing their voices woven into the tapestry of a community narrative of personal thoughts, emotions and experiences. There were sighs and smiles in reactions to the readings. Also, some curiosity as the anonymity of contributions was maintained. This was when extracts were quirky or unexpected. Others were thought provoking or even sometimes controversial.

Picture by Dene Bingham.

This is only the beginning of Sarah’s artistic project. On returning to Kings Cross she will be reflecting on her collection of conversations and those collected in journals by volunteers post-presentation and deciding on how to incorporate them into a text-based art form, which is Sarah’s speciality. Hopefully she will be able to return to our community and demonstrate her artistic interpretations. This will depend on the availability of funding.

Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council has appreciated Sarah’s engagement with our Rural Utopia and sincerely hopes she will be able to return. The organisation is proud to have been selected for a second opportunity to host an artist and contribute to their artistic practice. In these projects the local community has been enthusiastic in their engagement with these conceptual artists (the first being Gustav Helberg) and to its credit has shown an open-mindedness and an acceptance of their artistic endeavours.

If you’re interested in following Sarah’s work, you can check out her blog here.

Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council receives funding from Regional Arts WA through Regional Arts Sector Investment supported by Lotterywest. You can find more information about that program here.

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