Artist in Residence at The Lighthouse Toowoomba
Lee FullARTon is an Ipswich artist, and her Mr Chippa exhibition was shown at the Ipswich Community Gallery as part of StoryArts Festival Ipswich in 2022 then in May this year at the Redland Art Gallery. Since then, Lee has had her children’s picture book published and created puppets for some of the characters. You can buy the book from Lee’s website.
The book has been illustrated in a unique way, using woodblocks designed by Lee but carved in India by the artisan woodblock carvers of Bagru, then handprinted in Ipswich.
In the Write Gallery at The Lighthouse Toowoomba, Lee was artist in residence for November and conducted programs with children, adults and families, toured many though the exhibition and spent time creating puppets in the traditional marionette style of Rajasthan known as Kathputli.
Book Links was thrilled to receive a QASP grant from Arts Qld that enabled us to put on the program. This, combined with our partnership with The Lighthouse Toowoomba who provided the venue and local publicity and promotion, allowed us to deliver a top-class exhibition that stunned the many people who viewed it.
We had great media coverage, and you can revisit this to see what a wonderful project it was.
The Field Guide is an independent street newspaper for the Toowoomba region. It curates a calendar of events, keeps you in the loop on local stories (the good kind, the ones you actually want to read about), and makes weekly newsletters that explore the very best the region has to offer. This is their report.
ABC Southern Qld Radio did an interview with Lee FullARTon. This station has 40% of the audience in this region with an audience peak of over 300 000 in their breakfast session, which is when this interview aired. It was great to catch up with David Iliffe during the interview and see it in action. Listen to the interview (11:40mins) and discover more about Lee’s journey to creating this unique work of art.
We also made in on to Channel Seven News Toowoomba.
Of course, our host venue The Lighthouse Toowoomba has also shared their experiences in their newsletters, The Beacon. You will find photos and quotes from happy attendees in these issues, along with other things that are happening at The Lighthouse. Issue #39 and Issue #40
Setting up the Exhibition
Opening night was a colourful event with adults and a few children from the local community attending. The exhibition was opened by Gitie House OAM, President, TIMS & Chair ISF Festival and Ravikesh Singh provided the music. Everyone joined in the reading of Lee’s story, Mr Chippa the Woodblock Carver of Bagru with puppets created by Lee to reenact the story. Wonderful Indian food matched the theme of the evening.
Throughout the month of November, Lee shared the creation of her book, her exhibition, story and puppets with children from local schools. They had fun helping work the puppets as Lee read the book, then they moved freely around a number of work stations set up for them to explore rangoli and print making techniques.
Three workshops were help on Saturdays during the exhibition.
The first one was a workshop with Lee FullARTon and author Sandhya Parappukkaran. Sandhya talked about creating story based on memories of people and places, picking out key words which could be added with letter stamps to a concertina book. The illustrations were created by participants using the same words and phrases to create rangoli.
The second workshop was designed for families and Lee again involved the audience in the performance of her story using puppets, before exploring rangoli and print making.
The third workshop was presented by Lee with fellow artist Catherine Parker. Catherine and Lee drew upon their collaborative experiences in India to engage participants in a workshop that explored travel and mixed media techniques, including the use of blocks from Bagru. Participants made a concertina visual artwork that mapped their travel memories.
A group of adults from State Development visited the exhibition and Lee guided them through activities that brought together aspects of wellbeing and creativity to support their focus on a healthy workplace. Participants exceeded their expectations by joining in playful, mindful and active artmaking.
Throughout the residency and exhibition, Lee continued to design and create more puppet characters for the story. It was a bit of a learning experience for her as she solved problems of how to create puppets for dogs, cats and even a tree. These traditional marionettes of Rajasthan known as Kathputli are very colourful. Lee continues to source connections to the Kathputli as she contemporises her puppet works.
What the Artists said
Exhibition and Artist in Residence – Lee FullARTon
The AiR Project provided the opportunity for me as Artist to create and access new audiences in regional Queensland within The Darling Downs, building my capacity, artist confidence, and reputation. The experience gave me great confidence and reassurance in the quality of my work with new and wider audiences. Conversations with audiences were warm and generous as they expressed great enjoyment and uplifting responses to the exhibition and works, including the cultural puppet performance through audience engagement.
The residence allowed for a balance of public programs and artist in residency program with the development of new works including story writing and the concept creation of various character puppets for completion of all characters within the story of Mr Chippa the Woodblock Carver of Bagru.
The workshops furthered artist partnerships, in collegial collaboration and trust to build further depth to established artist partnerships as well as new connections to local Toowoomba artists, authors and illustrators and those generally interested in the arts and future workshops.
As Artist I believe I that I presented an outstanding exemplar of creative arts practice that demonstrates best practice in gallery-based programs rich in art, culture and educational outcomes for participants. This also allows for greater understanding and future presentation and programs to be modeled on this exemplar by the partnership.
Collaborative Rangoli workshop in conjunction with Mr Chippa the Woodblock Carver of Bagru – Sandhya Parappukkaran
The workshop with Lee Fullarton at The Lighthouse was an enjoyable and fruitful event. Working together with Lee enabled the extension of our skills into a wholesome project through which participants engaged in learning, delved into their creativity and improved their skills. It was wonderful to see a varied audience, young and old, and from all walks of life. Together we shared the stories, many personal and local stories, which were then preserved into beautiful and meaningful art. In the level of enthusiasm from each participant, I recognised a positive impact caused by this workshop, which will undoubtedly flow through to their communities. I am excited that artist partnerships such as this one serve to bring local communities together, make positive use of wonderful spaces such as The Lighthouse Toowoomba and create new employment opportunities for artists.
Collaborative Sketchbook workshop in conjunction with Mr Chippa the Woodblock Carver of Bagru – Catherine Parker
On the 25 November 2023 I had the pleasure of conducting a mixed media workshop in Collaboration with Lee Fullarton exploring the concept of the traditional arts in the form of woodblock printing in India in alignment with Lee’s exhibition and book.
Having travelled for many years to India and introducing Lee to Bagru, the home of woodblock printing and the woodblock carvers, we collaborated to bring a unique experience to participants to enable a heightened awareness of rural India and its rich artistic traditions and culture.
We, in essence, brought communities both local and afar (in India) together weaving a rich tapestry of universal language – that Art, no matter what background, unites us.
For those unable to travel to India, Lee brought India to them and together in our workshop we shared our extensive teaching skills and travels to India.
Each participant took home a completed artist book along with new skills and processes.
CATHERINE PARKER ART TOURS [to India],
The Lighthouse Toowoomba also reflected on the outcomes:
“The Lighthouse Toowoomba was absolutely thrilled to host the exhibition. We wish part of the acquittal process was actually having the sound of the children – their glee, awe, delight – bottled so you could be here too! To have had teachers thank us personally because they learnt about delivering creativity-based workshops was wonderful. Additional outcomes: We have invited Lee to participate in another exhibition in April 2024 Cultural Kaleidoscope.”
What the People Said
- “It was fun with lots of Information”.
- “I really like and enjoyed everything I did The artist is amazing!”.
- “I really enjoyed the whole experience, and all of the language features she used!”
- “It made me feel calm”.
- “This was a fantastic experience”.
- “So much FUN!”
- “This was a great experience for my creative side”.
- “It was really very beautiful”.
- Absolutely loved it! Thank you for helping us to find beauty for 90 minutes and take that time with us”.
- “I loved this. I learnt that there is more to art!”
- “I loved how Lee was inspired to go to India and wrote a book about it and how she went to all the effort to print a whole book!”
- “It was amazing, and I want to come again”.
- “I loved it – This was so worthwhile!”
- “Fantastic hands-on experience of block printing and a range of other mediums to tell a cultural story. Thank you so much Lee!”
- “Regional and rural area LOVE the opportunity to interact and participate in Arts Activities.”
- “Lee created and unique experience for the students. They were engaged in learning about her process, they enjoyed the book and the opportunity to make their own artwork.”
- “A wonderful experience for both teachers and students. Lots of art techniques learned and much fun had too. A fabulous way for students to learn about forms of multimodal presentation and how it can be used as a form of storytelling.”
- “A rich insight into Indian traditions through storytelling and art- A wonderful experience for staff and students!”
- “This workshop was so informative Lee kept everyone interested telling us how the book was created – Lee was fantastic!”
- “An excellent workshop that catered for our diverse students of abilities and understanding, entertaining and informative”.
From participants in the workshop with Lee and Catherine
- “It was a great experience encouraging and inspiring. Thank you so much to the artist for the opportunity and their time I loved it!”
- “The importance of cultural preservation and the support of artists dedicated to this and willing to share their skill and knowledge – Lee and Catherine are excellent presenters”.
- “A hands-on experience of printmaking using a variety of materials and techniques. So inspirational and aa delight to work together with a group of people learning from each other”
- “A wonderful opportunity to step out of your comfort zone to try something new and surprise yourself with the outcome”.
- “Very inspirational”.
- “A wonderful workshop blending so many different methods of printing using world blocks beautifully presented within the cultural frames of the woodcarvers of India”.
From participants in the workshop with Lee and Sandhya
- “A joyous, relaxing, and inspiring art and storytelling adventure!”
- to have an opportunity to experience a world class exhibition is regional Queensland is invaluable. I feel a sense of connection to creative everywhere”.
- “I was blown away by the quality and fun of this workshop -2 hours never went by so quickly”.
- This was a very fun and informative workshop that gave me insight and wisdom into Indian culture and a new creative process. I did not want to leave!”
- “I believe it will allow a greater appreciation of the different cultures in this community and better understanding of symbolic artistic decorations”.
- “Unique and beautiful experience bring women together in a creative way”.
From participants in the family workshop with Lee
- This was a great family friendly event where we could interact with the community and learn about another country and have fun”.
- “What a great workshop!”
- “This was a great activity for our family to enjoy together and accessible even for our younger child. The kids love learning new artistic methods and about other languages and cultures. Thank You!”
- “ A great family friendly afternoon, Children enjoyed the exhibition”
From gallery visitors
- “Magical, everyone should experience this!”
- “Thanks so much for bringing Mr Chippa to our multicultural city of Toowoomba. Lee Fullarton is a delight and am so happy to have seen this exhibition”.
- “This was an invaluable experience for myself and my family- so great to see something like this in Toowoomba!”
- “Stunning work! It was wonderful to hear all about your experience and processes around making the artworks, book, puppets, very inspiring! Thank you for sharing it!”
- “Delighted to have the Chhapmaking art from India so beautifully expressed in Lee’s work. A joy and a treat!”.
Book Links is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland