A leisurely breakfast with Tracy our Airbnb host before heading south. It is just over an hour to Ballandean and the “Art in the Mill” exhibition. This is what I read about it on Google. This is the report on last year’s exhibition…
Close to two decades ago local artist Alba Conti came up with a crazy idea to borrow a concept she’d seen elsewhere to mount an art exhibition in a shed. Come this May Day weekend the 17th installation of A Case of Art in Mill takes place, against all odds.
She must have had vision because for 51 weeks of the year the old case-manufacturing mill in Curr Rd Ballandean has barely a wall to its name. Alba thought the shed just lent itself to the endeavour, and approached owner Pedro Curr who was happy to comply, but with some trepidation as he also thought the idea was far-fetched.
And what does Mrs Conti now think of the ongoing popularity of the annual exhibition of local art?
“Bloody amazing,” she said.
“There were 320 people at the exhibition opening last year, and we receive amazing local support, both in attendance and purchasing.”
She along with fellow organisers Sue Jurd and Michael Pieper feel it’s the homely atmosphere of the setting that attracts those who wouldn’t normally patronise an art gallery. The crew have been busy putting up walls and making the shed weatherproof in the lead-up to the exhibition, to ensure that everyone receives a warm welcome regardless of the outside conditions.
The annual May Day weekend event, now in its 17th year, will exhibit the works of 16 artists, all of whom live and work on the Granite Belt between Stanthorpe and Tenterfield. While the term Art Exhibition generally conjures up a mental image of paintings on a wall, this year, It’s a Case of Art in the Mill boasts a visual feast of 3D works.
Creations in blown glass, forged metal, timber, clay, mixed media, fabric and silk will harmoniously complement traditional and contemporary paintings in oils, acrylics and watercolour pen and wash, prints and drawings.
A unique and interesting venue, the old Case and Timber Mill on Curr Rd in Ballandean provides an incomparable atmosphere in which to immerse and indulge the senses.
The weekend- long exhibition begins at 7pm on Friday and continues until Monday afternoon.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
This is the old mill. It certainly looks ramshackle, exudes atmosphere. We walk in and are welcomed by a friendly local who tells us many of the works have been sold and taken away.But there is still plenty to browse through. It has a very rural and rustic atmosphere with wood chips on the floor and hessian sacking around the walls.
Rusty, old paraphernalia is hanging on the walls above the sacking and wooden pallets have been put to good use.
At the back of the building the sack is draped to one side and reveals a conglomeration of “stuff” stacked out-of-the-way. A large steam engine skulks on the left and I’m told it is actually in working condition and on the Friday opening night the sound and smell of this giant greets the guests as they wander around drinking mulled wine and nibbling finger food.
Old bikes hang from the roof beams and this very intricate metal fire pit, made by this local who was once the village blacksmith, is keeping the space toasty warm.
By mid-day we are ready to move on.
I’m also ready for a coffee. Suddenly, about half an hour along the road I spot this…I hadn’t realised we were so close to the border between Queensland and New South Wales. In fact we were right on it. Then I turned around…Well, just what I was looking for…This is, in fact, a very historic place. In the past the trains ran from Sydney to Brisbane along this line. Passengers had to change trains here, because for some unfathomable reason, Queensland and NSW had different gauge rail lines. (How stupid is that of the councils back then!!!)
While waiting for lunch I had an interesting conversation with a fellow traveller who used to live along the line at Toowoomba and every Christmas would go, by the train, to her Grandparents in Sydney. She described the journey in the decrepit, old wooden carriages, with holes in the floor and they would watch, fascinated, as the rails whizzed by underneath their feet. The roof was not attached to the walls and would shake and rattle and smoke from the engine would blow in. Then they would get onto the more modern NSW train to carry on their journey. I forgot to ask how long that journey would take, but I’m guessing a couple of days.
As you can see in the above photo the rail lines are in good condition as NSW still runs occasional tourist steam train trips.
But now look the other way…This is the Queensland side. No trains run along here any more.Then we went into the museum for a very informative look around.
Across the road is the small village of Wallangarra and the local pub.Train passengers would sometimes stay here, or come across for a beer while waiting for the connection train to arrive. We looked inside and this cosy looking lounge area with the fire going enticed us in.
Time for another coffee and a beer for Jack and time to do a sketch. Looking at the same thing, but totally different interpretations.
Before leaving we had a look around the village and this gorgeous tree ablaze with the colours of autumn called out to my camera.
What an interesting find we had stumbled upon. One of those unexpected delights that travelling without a tight schedule can pop up.
But now it was getting on and it was only about 15 more minutes to Tenterfield and I am really looking forward to our stay in the mansion…
I’m linking this journey to Cathy “travel essence” she is a very energetic lady and invites us to join her in describing our journeys. At the moment she is on a 4 week exciting road trip in America. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when she gets back