Lockyer Valley, Qld

Farmers and artists tackle disaster recovery together

"The project bought together not just the four farming families but also their neighbours, family and friends. There is increased social connectivity with people recognising each other when out and about. Building social capital is valuable within a community to facilitate disaster preparedness and recovery."

Project Coordinator

The Lockyer Valley was hit by the 2011 floods, and then again in 2013. It has been a long road for the community and many local residents and farmers are continuing to recover.

FRRR, via the Repair-Restore-Renew program, was proud to support the Lockyer Valley Land Art Project with a $15,000 grant, funded by the VISY Employees Community Fund/Pratt Foundation. The Creative Recovery Network developed and implemented the concept, to connect four local farmers with four artists to explore and document the role of art and culture in disaster recovery.

Artists joined farmers on the land

The artists stayed on the farms for two weeks to get to know the families and unearth their personal stories – understanding where they’ve been, where they’re at and where they’re going – and created a short video documenting personal relationships and artistic outcomes.

A variety of artists, including a musician, an installation and performance artist, a visual artist, and a sculpture and installation artist – took most of the farmers out of their everyday comfort zone. The purpose was to collaborate to create some kind of art and by the end of the second week, all four farmers had let their barriers down and unlocked their creativity.

Reconnecting and healing together

This project clearly demonstrated the power of art to help in the recovery process. Those without a previous association with art now have firsthand experience of the power of art in its many different forms. It provided a safe environment for people to engage and connect, to share their natural disaster experiences and help in their healing process.

The end creations were extraordinary, from writing a song, making sculptures from disused machinery to an interactive installation led by the local children. All participating farmers and their extended networks agree that it has been a valuable learning and healing opportunity.

For some of the farmers, the impact was obvious with one family creating a studio space to continue the creative experience, through to a subtle but very important change which has reconnected the farmers emotionally to their land.

Continuing the creative journey

The Creative Recovery Network is planning on running a similar project in 2015 and is engaging the wider community to demonstrate that arts and farming can work together. They will also tap into cultural tourism with a land art and farming trail, so that visitors to the Lockyer Valley can visit the exhibitions.