Postcards: Greetings from Police Point Art Camp, Point Nepean

I’ve never been sure what an ‘Artist Residency’ was, but knew vaguely it was a place where an artist is given space, away from their everyday practice/life to hopefully create something new. Not being a ‘landscape’ artist, I wondered if this was for me. What I did know, however, was that being an artist is generally a solitary pursuit, which can make it difficult to find time to connect with other artists, to discuss being an artist.

Remembering the power of ‘Art Camp’ from my time as an art student – creating bonds and immersing in art with fellow artists on the journey – I decided that the Police Point venue could be the perfect place to gather some other women artists and create the space to share and make work without any expectation for a particular outcome, and to talk about our respective practices and what it is to be an artist. Of course this was completely self-serving because this is what I needed to do for myself!

What a gift: stunning surrounds and a beautiful cottage to live in for the week. It was beyond all expectations. We had a revolving door of campers and day-trippers, from the Mornington Peninsula and beyond. All fell quickly under the spell of our glorious Point Nepean, and into an easy rhythm of laughter, sharing good food, and talking about our art and our individual experiences of being an artist. Naturally, there were some cathartic tears, yet all the time we were creating as we sat around tables chatting, picking up whatever materials were at hand. No topic was out of bounds and people felt safe enough to share their thoughts about art, life, love, death, hopes, fears, dreams and everything in between – all the while making and sharing hints, tips and processes. We created some 80 postcards and other works.

Personally I didn’t come up with any new ideas, but I did realise that it was not about having an outcome per se – I resolved a couple of ideas that have been floating around, learned lots of new things and, even better, PLAYED (we artist’s generally don’t allow ourselves play time in our practice).

Most importantly, I felt heard, understood, nourished, connected and humbled by the experience. I think all participants were so pleased to discover that they are not alone in this crazy thing we call being an artist.

Thank you to the Mornington Peninsula Shire for creating this invaluable resource, and for the opportunity to participate in the pilot program.

Sharron Okines is a printmaker and the Memberships and Advertising Manager at the Print Council of Australia. She was Artist in Residence at Police Point, Point Nepean, from 24 to 28 August 2015.