Artist Residencies on each side of the world as experienced by Jenni Munday and Donna Caffrey

The title of our shared blog is Poles Apart for a reason – Jenni is in the northern hemisphere in Iceland and I am in the southern hemisphere in Tasmania. Both of us are undertaking artist residencies.

I am in Oatlands, Tasmania. It is a small town that calls itself a village. To some it may be a matter of semantics but Oatlands has a village feel to it. I have lived in small communities with a similar population and I would never have thought to call them villages. I wonder whether it is the physical environment? Or is it the community that is connected?

Oatlands is a convict town. A sandstone town. A town in a pastured green area. Oatlands was settled about 1821. Albury/Wodonga, where l live, was first explored by colonists in1824. Yes, Oatlands is old in terms of colonial history. My studio and accommodation is the old gaoler’s cottage and the view from my window is the oldest building in the military prescient – the commissariat building where stores where kept.

Old commissariat building

In my residency I want to explore some approaches to contemporary textile art. I’ve been here 5 days now and started that journey. But I’ve also been pondering on what ‘poles apart’ means to me on a number of levels. I guess its a given that it means nothing in common: different beliefs, opinions or qualities. Synonyms of poles apart include: at opposite extremes, incompatible, irreconcilable, worlds apart. 

Some random thoughts have occurred to me. On a physical and environmental level Jenny is on the opposite side of the world in an icy country and I am in a green pastured landscape. Historically, Oatlands was colonised by military colonists who displaced the original occupants without enquiry or thought to their rights to live here. Once Oatlands was forested but now is open sheep grazing land. I was bought up in the Riverina bordering the Murray River : different colours, different soils, different native plants, birds and animals but same intolerance for First Nations people.

I have had first hand experience in terms of the meaning of poles apart when showing an older resident of the village what I was doing in my residency. He made me smile when, after looking a work in progress exploring ways to create backgrounds on fabric into which I could stitch: “Well, I guess a blind man would be pleased to have it” . Yep, definitely poles apart. Donna 8 Oct, 2022

2 thoughts on “Artist Residencies on each side of the world as experienced by Jenni Munday and Donna Caffrey”

  1. I’m glad you’ve managed to get started, Donna. I have been pondering the works I want to make – thoughts have changed somewhat to those prior to arriving in Iceland. I went for a quick trip around the ring road which circles the country but did not come to the Westfjords where I am now staying. There is some ambivalence about the climate crisis. I get the feeling that because there is so much water here and the entire landscape is so overwhelming the general person-in-the-street is not too concerned. Yes, the glaciers are receding and they are getting more rain mixed with snow in the winter, but nothing imminent seems to worry them. Or it could be because I am an English-speaking person and they are talking about their fears in Icelandic.

    1. Good (my) morning Jenni. It’s interesting that you mention water. I had been wondering why Oatlands was chosen as a settlement point. Well, not really settlement – it was a military staging post and gaol for transported convicts. Records indicate that Oatlands is roughly half way between Launceston and Hobart and that was probably the main reason. There is no river. There is a lake that is fed by a couple of small creeks. They can dry up in summer – as can the lake. The lake is now full of trout and water is topped up from a source piped into the region which feeds both towns and farms. The land here is all sandstone and water filters through it. Historically the settlers dug wells and would have had lovely clean water.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top