Is this Moree’s best-kept secret?
Words, images: Bill Poulos
THERE is a lot happening in an unassuming backroom tucked away behind Moree Plains Gallery in downtown Moree.
The artists’ studio, strewn with paint pots, brushes, easels and plenty of laughter and inspiration goes largely unnoticed as pedestrians stroll by on Heber and Frome Streets – it could very well be Moree’s best-kept secret.
Education officer Janelle Boyd is doing good things for the town – fantastic things – and each week oversees around 350 students from all walks of life and backgrounds.
Class, race, colour, age or ability are not issues at these classes, where students are learning a lot more than just art.
There are classes for students from East Moree Public School, Barwon Learning Centre, Gwydir Industries employees and the Challenge Foundation.
“We also have a program for kids with autism as well as one for people for mental health issues and a pilot program for kids going through the juvenile justice system,” Ms Boyd said.
“There are about 15 different organisations involved and we have about 350 people a week call in, and the best thing about it all is that it costs nothing – it’s free,” she said.
“We run on donations and grants and we have about 10 volunteers that help. We do heaps of stuff, and the main thing is that whoever walks through the gate can do stuff.
“We don’t care who you are – everyone is welcome,” she said.
Moree artist James Kearns is also involved on a voluntary basis, teaching kids that are going through the juvenile justice system all he knows about art.
“I find it really rewarding,” Mr Kearns said.
“At the moment it’s a pilot program and I’m dealing with three kids at a time. We’ve been doing murals and that sort of thing and the kids are really starting to engage.
“When they paint they lose themselves a bit and start getting right into it . . . it’s good,” he said.
Both artists have donated works to an online art auction aimed at raising much-needed funds for terminally-ill Moree man Mick Colbran.
Ms Boyd finished Way Out West three weeks ago – just in time for the auction launched last week – while Mr Kearns has donated Night Owl.
“Way Out West is acrylic ink, water-colour and Indian ink on hand-made Euraba paper from Boggabilla,” Ms Boyd said.
“It’s all about the Narran Lakes, west of Lightning Ridge – an aerial landscape of a beautiful part of the country.
“When Way Out West was done there were opals, craybobs, beer and my old mate Autrey Dennison . . . but that’s another story,” she smiled.
Mr Kearns, now based in Moree after relocating from Sydney three years ago after a brief stint in Orange, says his art is “a continuous exploration of internal and external influences, using paint,
charcoal and collage on all surfaces, predominantly canvas”.
He describes Night Owl, as a layered collage that “carves the image out of the background”.
“This was done back in 2011, about the second year that I started painting full-time,” Mr Kearns said.
“There are just layers and layers and the image blends into the background, as owls sort of do – they blend into the environment,” he said.
All items for sale in the Leap for Mick online art auction, and information on the tendering process, can be found at www.deluxecafemoree.com.au. The auction closes at 6pm sharp on Sunday, March 13.