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Melbourne artist exploring rural way of life with Carnamah project

Jamie ThannooMidwest Times
Tina (right) working with volunteers.
Camera IconTina (right) working with volunteers. Credit: Supplied

A Melbourne artist is on a quest in Carnamah to capture how local ways of life in rural towns and the enormous agriculture industry interact and will be shooting her first performance film for her project this weekend..

Tina Stefanou is a Victorian artist who is working in Carnamah with the North Midlands project on a series of performance films labelled Agripoet(h)ics, named after the themes of agriculture, poetry and ethics.

Stefanou has been in Carnamah since the start of the year with her project exploring the clash between the hyper-local and hyper-global in rural communities.

Filming for her first film will take place this weekend and will include a 25m wool sculpture draped over a tractor.

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The wool piece has been crafted using wool donated from local farmers, and sewn together over two weeks with the help of about 15 volunteers, to make a piece in which the organic and mechanical come together.

“Its about kind of celebrating the original industries of the region, which are wool and grain crops, and bringing them together in a poetic way, but its also about questioning the future of these industries, as farms get bigger and smaller, family farms shrink and the decline of wool and sheep farming as well,” Stefanou said.

Stefanou will be working on several films this year, including one in which she takes a voyage on a CBH cargo ship as it carries grain to Indonesia, with the project being displayed at the Art Gallery of Western Australia at the end of the year.

Stefanou said Carnamah had perfectly encapsulated how tight-knit farming communities interacted with the globe-spanning agricultural economy.

“I think agriculture is paradoxical, its made of local histories and stories, which I’ve been connecting with in Carnamah . . . and then you’ve got the bigger things, the agribusiness, these global market chains, these industrial complexities,” she said.

Stefanou said she has been welcomed with open arms by locals eager to lend a hand or have a chat.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming in, if they aren’t sewing with me and my collegue Donna Franklin, then they’re sitting, having cups of tea or a beer and telling us their stories,” she said.

“Whilst we’re sewing we’re not only creating something, we’re also embedding those stories as well.”

Stefanou is seeking participants to appear in her films, including her piece this weekend.

If you are interested, contact the North Midlands Project at hello@northmidlands.org.au or 0419 766 808.

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