‘The Coraki Connection Exhibition’

A new art exhibition hoping to help connect the village of Coraki to the city of Casino opened at the Platypus Gallery on Tuesday evening.

‘The Coraki Connection’ features work from emerging and established artists from and around the village.

From Vanessa Kapeen’s dot paintings to Ana Thompson’s vibrant works, the artists’ stories all contribute to a collective narrative about belonging – or seeking to belong – to the place they choose to call home.

Opening the exhibition, Coraki Art Prize Chair Melva Thompson explained how the different works, in varying media, all touched on a common theme.

“We’d originally wanted to give the artists the theme of ‘belonging’ but in the end chose to ask them to submit something that showed their connection to Coraki,” Mrs Thompson said. “As you go in to the exhibition you will see on one side how photographer Jimmy Malecki chose his beloved Bungawalbyn and how Aboriginal artist Vanessa Kapeen uses her art to find a clear space in a town where it’s not always easy to feel welcome if you are Aboriginal.

“Then moving to the other side you can see works that speak about the difficulties of belonging.

“Through the whole exhibition you can see how we achieved both our aims.”

Ms Kapeen grew up in Coraki, is a mother and works at Coraki Primary School. She won the emerging artist’s award at the 2011 Coraki Art Prize.

Photographer Jimmy Malecki selected his images to show a farmer trying different approaches to regenerating land near the Bungawalbyn.

Emerging artist Ana Thompson’s emotive and confronting series draws on a sense of ‘other’, contrasting with her more gentle work ‘If only you could speak to me’.

Christine Spedding’s stark and sensual works in black and white provide a stunning backdrop to Michael Penklis’s colourful, delicate and bold jewellery while Nikky Morgan-Smith’s whimsical ‘Tall stories’ are sure to bring smiles.

‘The Coraki Connection’ will run until May 17 at the Platypus Gallery, 86 Centre St, Casino, then move to the Casino Community Cultural Centre from May 22- July 1.

Showing their commitment to the village, members of the Coraki Voice donated their time and cooking skills, delighting gallery visitors with delicious local food.

Richmond Valley Council tourism staff supported and helped to arrange the event and exhibition, which it is hoped will generate more local people venturing outside their back gardens to have a look over the fence at neighbouring villages.

From left: Diane Mackie: Janelle Saffin, Joyce Skinner & Bev Hinton.
From left: Ana Thompson (painter), Col Sullivan (Mayor Richmond Valley Council), Vanessa Kapeen (painter), Melva Thompson (President Coraki Art Prize), Michael Penklis (jeweller), and Jimmy Malecki (photographer) in the background are some of Vanessa’s paintings.
Left: Melva Thompson (President Coraki Art Prize), right: Ana Thompson (painter) with one of her paintings.

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