Leading Australian artists OCCUPY THE FENCE

A group of 20+ Australian artists will take action this weekend to OCCUPY THE FENCE with a temporary exhibition to save mature unburnt bushland in Manyana and its vital ecosystem on the NSW South Coast from development for a housing subdivision.

OCCUPY THE FENCE will take place on Saturday 11 July, from 10am to 4pm on Berringer Road, Manyana.

Leading artist and local resident, Lara Merrett hopes the event will put a national spotlight on the community’s campaign to save the precious bushland and raise awareness for not just the Manyana bush but areas under threat across the country post-bushfires.

Lara Merrett, Night Shading, acrylic and ink on linen. Courtesy the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Queensland

‘The artist community is throwing its weight behind Manyana Matters, a fantastic grassroots campaign raising awareness about the importance of preserving habitats in bushfire-affected areas. This is an issue affecting communities right across the country, and with leading artists adding their voices, we can broaden the conversation.

‘We hope by doing this, we can focus the government’s attention on its duty to protect the fragile biodiversity of our country post-bushfires. This call to action is something that artists can do in a very tangible way. They are change-makers and communicators and now is the time that we can come together as a community. This is about the future of our country,’ Merrett said.

Over the course of the weekend, artists will be producing artwork to Occupy the Fence and reclaim it on behalf of the community. By attaching the work to the 2-metre tall security mesh fence that bounds the perimeter of the threatened bushland, they will create a temporary outdoor exhibition that will call attention to the campaign.

Deborah Kelly, Existential Threats, 2020., watercolour, dye and collage on handmade paper

Artists will be working solo and collaboratively with members of the community to produce works that reflect the power, beauty and ecological significance of the forest on the site set to be cleared. Real Estate will be a collaborative sculpture project between artists Janet Laurence, Jenny Turpin, Caroline Rothwell and the Manyana community, and involve the building cardboard structures that will sit on the fence as habitats. The local community is invited to make local plants and animals out of cardboard to inhabit the structures. And Alexandra Standen will collect clay from the local beaches and will work with the community to create ceramic gifts that will sit along the perimeter of the land. While Jodie Whalen will create a banner using recycled textiles, and run a short photographic series of the sky to be shared to her social media accounts.

Artists participating include Abdul Abdullah, Agatha Gothe Snape, Alexandra Standen, Anna-Wili Highfield, Anna Plunkett (Romance Was Born), Caroline Rothwell, Deborah Kelly, James Drinkwater, Jane Theau, Janet Laurence, Jason Phu, Jasper Knight, Jenny Turpin, Joan Ross, Jodie Whalen, Jonny Niesche, Juz Kitson, Lara Merrett, Larraine Larri, Laura Jones, Leila Jeffreys, Lottie Consalvo, Lucas Davidson, Marisa Purcell, Mitch Cairns, Natalie O’Loughlin, Rae Begley, and Tom Polo.