The Arties exhibition at Burrinja

A New World; Created Through Art


Post by Makayla Rimington

Burrinja’s Mission Statement endeavours to ‘build community through arts’ and a shining example of this is the Burrinja ‘Arties’. The Arties is a Burrinja Planned Activity Group who, in 2016, celebrate a decade of weekly meetings. The program involves adults of all abilities, from many different circumstances, joining together to create individual, expressive art.

Edges & Echoes is the chosen title for this year’s upcoming celebration. This involves gaining inspiration from subtle realms of both the imagination and reality. An opening song, followed by performances and exhibitions are planned for this significant occasion. Lynette and the volunteers have worked with The Arties for many weeks in preparation, including a dress rehearsal to practice the meaningful opening number.

Managed and funded by Burrinja and The Department of Health and Human Services, The Arties gives people that may feel outcast from the public a chance to fit in, to be accepted by a group of like-minded people in a community and arts focused facility while creating and performing. An extremely positive outcome from this Burrinja Arties program is mental wellbeing; giving people aged 20 to 70 a chance to use their individual abilities to overcome obstacles, both physical and mental.

It is an arts-based skills and learning program that emphasises cultural participation while enriching understandings of culture and community. The program also teaches socialisation skills and many art techniques.


Lynette Forrest, an experienced Creative Arts Therapist, facilitated and designed the program that assists members of the community who are affected by mental illness and expands social support for those who are ‘at risk of homelessness’. Many of the people involved have had experience with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but having the involvement of working with other Arties gives a sense of achievement, peace and connection. Arties ‘challenges the participants to take positive risks by trying new activities, learning with artist mentors, exhibiting, performing and more’.

Lynette believes in the healing power of art, it moves beyond language and understanding, becoming instead about the physical and the pleasure of ‘doing’. ‘Anyone can do it, they can’t fail, they trust me to help them create and learn’ says Lynette.

Being treated as welcomed and individual members of the public is integral to supporting and encouraging the Arties participants to create art that tells their story.


Each week the partakers create art-work that they have a chance to exhibit and sell once a year at the annual Arties Event. This involves painting, photography and construction all the way through to dance, music, drama and narrative.

‘The Arties get so much out of special programs like this, it is wonderful to experience’ – Dr. Ross Farnell, Executive Director, Burrinja.

‘If only everyday could be Friday’ was remarked to Lynette recently, each meeting is looked forward to by the artists, and the yearly exhibition gives the participants and their works prominence and appreciation from the community.

Lynette has found a link between art, music and mental wellbeing, she observes a positive transformation in her participants; ‘when they return next time, with a little spark, I can see that it has been a lasting change’.


Lynette puts these amazing outcomes down to music and the arts changing and improving a participant’s self-esteem and mental wellbeing.

The latest event fell on November 4th and the Arties’ had planned an opening song with the help of Nicole from Harmonious Melodies. ‘Edges & Echoes’ is an exploration of the thresholds of imagination, space and time. The theme centres around making meaning out of reality and dreams, and the pieces created are an echo of each member’s world. The song, with the assistance of Nicole, has been written by the group, with the chorus ‘chase those bad dreams away’ coined by a participant. The song takes the members to the edge of their imagination, meeting both good and bad aspects.

The Arties exhibition

Celebrating 10 years of The Arties at Burrinja is an incredible achievement and shows the passion and determination of its facilitator, Lynette Forrest. ‘It’s amazing, my favourite job. I wish I could do it every day’. Lynette creates a happy place, an environment where the members can understand themselves and learn creative techniques to express their individuality. This year’s milestone gives recognition to the great work of Lynette, the volunteers and of course, The Arties.


The Arties exhibition launch on November 4th.

The Exhibition runs from the 27th October to the 27th November at Burrinja.
Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Dr, Upwey.

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Class Comedy


Hills dwellers need not travel to the inner city for hilarious first class comedy – Melbourne Fringe on tour returns to Burrinja with Bucket’s List, a satirical comedy about love and buckets by multi award winning Belgrave writer Sarah Collins, starring Justin Kennedy and a possum plus live music on stage.

“The show itself is a gem of a thing – inspired by a real life bucket salesman I met at a wedding,” says Sarah. “The show has been so positively reviewed, and I swear he is why. He is one of the kindest, nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was just totally inspirational. He was actually a bucket salesman by day and wedding DJ by night, and these two disparate worlds just HAD to be explored in a show, I felt. The trick was figuring out how to bring them together into a cohesive show that had a storyline and made sense and felt complete, not just novel. The jumping off point for me was these two jobs he did. Beyond that it was about imagining a world where something interesting happens because of those jobs. I had to explore the world of buckets and love and figure out a path for them to come together. So that’s essentially what the show is – a collision of these two worlds.”

Sarah and Justin share an underground house in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges – which has been featured on the Design Files blog.

With a hilarious support set by another seasoned local comedian Michael Connell this is sure to be a night to remember. Michael, who’s performed on Australia’s Got Talent, Rove, and other TV shows, mixes big ideas with big laughs before throwing in a few surprises.

Are you a budding writer or comedian or both?  Here’s your chance to learn from this talented duo by taking part in a Comedy & Script Development Workshop with Justin Kennedy & Sarah Collins the weekend before the show. Bucket’s List is a storytelling show, told through the mediums of narration, physical comedy, live music and puppetry – and this workshop brings all of these experiences together.

“We’ve been getting asked to do more and more of these comedy/writing workshops in recent times, which is great, because we really love talking about ourselves and feeling like we still know things after being on a big parenting kick the last two years!” Sarah explains. “A session just like this was what got me into writing my own things back in 2004 and I would go so far as to say it was life-changing. Certainly career changing at the very least.”

“The biggest thing we want participants to know is that the workshop is not at all scary. You don’t have to be a genius to get something from what we’re teaching. It actually takes the process back to the very basics and gives everyone these ridiculously simple tools to create their own work.”


Clockwise from top: Sarah Collins, Justin Kennedy and Michael Connell.


Comedy Class – with Justin Kennedy
Justin is a stand up, actor, and head writer for Channel 10’s The Project. He has written for Letters and Numbers and Rove and has been a regular on the Comedy Channel for years.

From Idea to Script to Show – with Sarah Collins
Sarah is a Belgrave based writer and performer known for her comedic storytelling shows.
She has won numerous awards for her script writing and her shows have enjoyed sell out seasons at La Mama, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, the Arts Centre Melbourne – Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse and even Toowoomba! Her show Bucket’s List has received straight 5 star reviews and won the Tiki Tour Award.

“We’re so happy to be playing at Burrinja, our home arts centre! We’ve had such amazing support from the hills and can’t wait to play for all our friends here.”

Bucket’s List, with support act by Michael Connell plus Comedy & Script Development workshop at Burrinja – Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Dr, Upwey.
Workshop: Sunday 2 Oct, 2 – 4:30pm
Performance: Friday 7 Oct, doors open 7:30pm
Cost:  Performance $18 – $28 | Workshop $25 | Workshop &performance $44
Fantastic student price for the show and workshop just $35
Contact: 9754 8723

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oxjam up close

oxjam logo

Post by Gareth Hart.

What happens when you place event organisers, a venue, musicians and social conscience in the same space? OXJAM at the Skylark Room. that’s what.

According to the OXJAM website, the program “is a month-long party against poverty where hundreds of music lovers from all over the country create and throw their own gigs and parties, all in aid of Oxfam’s vision of a just world without poverty. OXJAM is one unforgettable month of DIY gigs and parties across Australia, all in support of Oxfam’s life-changing work around the world”

It is a nation-wide demonstration of how two things I believe deeply in, can blend into one: live performance and humanitarian values.

OXJAM is an exciting project that showcases how a venue-based model of artistic support can have a social conscience and contribute in a very real way, to an enriched, more connected and integrated future. From the Skylark table, 20% of ticket sales are being donated to OXJAM, with the added bonus of happy hour drink specials to support the cause between 7pm-8pm.

So why are the event organisers running this? According to the Skylark room, “We are so pumped for this gig on Friday night! It feels amazing to be doing something to actively help kids have access to the basic rights and services that we take for granted everyday”. The enthusiasm with which this new venue is supporting and advocating social justice through creative endeavours is amazing.

Spare Tyre politics

Spare Tyre Politics

On the night, Spare Tyre Politics, Khristian Mizzi & Pia Nesvara share their musical love for a great room & a great cause. 3 great acts for only $10! $2 from every ticket sale will go to Oxfam. So, this Friday, get along to the Skylark Room, 351 Glenfern Road, Upwey, and enjoy an incredible night of music, great local beverages and receive a huge amount of good creative karma by supporting a worthwhile cause.

The team are attempting to raise $500 through the night, which would be an exciting achievement. If you can’t make it to the gig, you can support the cause by giving online at:

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From Milingimbi to the Dandenongs: introducing Stanley Gawurra


Post by Gareth Hart.

This Friday at the Skylark room in Upwey, you are in for a real treat. A rare treat. The kind of treat that in a years from now you will either:
a) be ranting to your friends how you were there when it all began; or
b) be kicking yourself for not being a part of something so special from the start.

I am referring to the incredible voice, musicality and performance of Stanley Gawurra. A gifted musician with a talent for storytelling, Gawurra performs deeply felt and intimately connected songs.


Gawurra is an indigenous musician from Milingimbi, in North East Arnhem Land. In 2015 Gawurra won the ‘Pop’ award in the Northern Territory Music Awards, and this accolade has skyrocketed his career. His debut album, Ratja Yaliyali followed this success and was launched earlier this year. Releasing an album in this overly competitive creative landscape is difficult enough, so it must be remarked upon when this is met with critical acclaim, the 4.5 star review kind of acclaim, from none other than Rolling Stone. According to Rolling Stone ‘like fellow Yonglu artist Gurrumul, Gawurra commands attention regardless of backdrop.’

According to Gawurra, “Ratja Yaliyali translates to ‘Vine of Love’, meaning a thread of love that keeps everything connected. When Yolngu people hear it they feel the spirit in their hearts. If they have a problem or feel gloomy, they listen to Ratja Yaliyali as it touches them and builds their spirit making them stronger and brighter.”


Earlier this year, Gawurra moved from Milingimbi to the Dandenong Ranges, where he continues to hone his craft and focus on his career as a musician. What a gift we have with a talent such as this on our back doorstep.

Gawurra recently joined Clare Bowditch on 774 ABC Melbourne, and this is a great introduction to Gawurra’s story and his music. Have a listen here:

Gawurra will be supported by Alice Skye, another gifted indigenous songwriter making waves on the emerging music scene. This will, quite honestly, be an incredibly special night.

Be there, this is the early stages of a big career for this man.
You have been warned.

For more info on Gawurra, see:
Tickets for Friday’s gig can be arranged via: (03) 8288 2204

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Rob Snarski

A Coffee with Rob Snarski

Rob Snarski

Words and photographs by Matthew Thomson.

Matthew is a Melbourne based writer and photographer. His passion for photography sparked early on, when his father introduced him to an old Minolta X700 SLR. After buying his first DSLR at 15, Matthew was able to develop further in his later years of high school. Since graduating Matthew has spent time travelling, where his blog ‘Following My Feet’ highlighted his emerging talent as a young writer. Matthew now focuses in street, editorial and fashion, with his writing complementing each field. For further information about Matthew go to:

Sitting on the front verandah of his beautiful Mt Dandenong home, in the brisk morning air, listening to the whispers of the trees and the songs of the birds, I got a chance to talk with Rob Snarski about his recently debut solo album ‘Wounded Bird’, and the progression from his early Perth days.

“You can imagine in 1983 it was a very different scene in Australia… we didn’t have the internet… If you were going to sign to a label, you couldn’t really be based in Perth.”

Snarski’s music career started in WA with his brother Mark, in Chad’s Tree, however they soon moved across to Sydney to sign with label Hot Records, joining with the likes of The Triffids, The Laughing Clowns and The Benders.

“That was fantastic for us as kids…I was only 19”.

By 1989, he had moved back to Perth to start up the holiday band the Blackeyed Susans, a culmination of Chad’s Tree, The Triffids and Martha’s Vineyard.

“The idea was to play about 6 or 7 shows, record an LP…That was 1989…It’s now 2015 and I still play in a band called the Blackeyed Susans”. Over the years the Blackeyed Susans have toured globally, playing with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Marianne Faithful.

Rob Snarski - 1

Snarski’s latest album was intended to be a follow up duo to his and Dan Luscombe’s 2004 works ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’, however whilst driving home from a recording session Luscombe sprung on him that “this should be a solo record”.

“Initially I felt like punching him in the head, but in the end it was like a gift to me”.

Collaboration still remained important for Snarski and ‘Wounded Bird’, with Luscombe co-writing many of the songs, Shane O’Mara producing and Bruce Haymes, amongst others, adding his own touch. Even the financing was a holistic experience, with Snarski conducting Acoustic House Concerts as a way of crowdfunding the album.

“You have to be fairly open…You can’t walk into someone’s house and put on some sort of music persona… [however] it’s been a real joy”.

Rob Snarski - 2

However, ‘Wounded Bird’s’ production wasn’t completely smooth sailing, as a stolen computer and corrupt hard drives forced him to essentially start again on several songs.

“We had gotten about half way through, and things started to unravel.”

The album cover of ‘Wounded Bird’, a “bigified sparrow…resilient… [with] an arrow sticking through its heart” as Rob describes, was created by Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic, and reflects the difficulties around the album and how they have been encompassed into the final product.

Fortunately, the end result is a poetic adventure through tumultuous landscapes.

Snarski himself, has been a resident of Mt Dandenong for several years, with it becoming a retreat; a reminder of his childhood neighbouring town of Araluen. However, he admits that the serenity of being enclosed by trees is unnerving in fire season.

Snarski plans to release another Blackeyed Susans album sometime in 2015/2016, with one more solo album, ‘a record of requests’, coming out around June.

Snarski has had a brilliant 10 months or so since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird. The record has been showered with accolades. He will be Live and local at Burrinja this Saturday, 2 May. For more info head to what’s on at burrinja.

For more information about Rob Snarski go to:

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A wing and a prayer exhibition

A wing and a prayer

A wing and a prayer exhibition A wing and a prayer exhibition

Post by Zoe Amber Preston.

Stepping into the current exhibition at Burrinja called, “A Wing and a Prayer” was like setting foot into a fantasy world. Walking around the space I found earth-like talismans, peculiar characters, miniature worlds and handmade sculptures inspired by various spiritual beliefs and religions. The exhibition included artworks by Joy Serwylo, Janine Sutton, Jenny Rowe and Lisa von Mueller.

The little characters in Joy’s miniature installations seem to be trapped in a world where the pressure of being perfect dominates their lives. My curiosity got the better of me as I peeped inside each artwork, discovering little gardens filled with topiary trees, animals made from moss, hanging birds, deformed crocodiles and little human-like characters. Experiencing the exhibition made me wonder what it would be like to exist in these tiny fictional worlds. Each little character seemed to be fighting to keep their microcosm in order, believing a better quality of life will be afforded to them if they do.

Joy Serwylo's artworks

In a brief interview with Joy, she mentioned that the meaning behind her new series is that “we don’t need to have the perfect life in order to be happy. So many people strive for perfection, but I believe we don’t need perfection if we focus on the beauty of an authentic life.” As a child, Joy grew up creating beautiful artworks, but now in her 60’s she wants to create meaning and purpose behind her work in order to inspire others.

“On reflection, I feel that avoiding imperfection, and creating our own small worlds will only fill us with fear for what lies ahead. I want to encourage you to walk out your front door, climb over that hedge and escape your idea of misguided perfection. Happiness is found in our natural spontaneous lives, anything could happen when you just go with the flow!”

Joy Serwylo's artworks

Alongside Joy’s inventive sculptural collages are delightful ceramic models by Jenny Rowe. Like before, I felt like her work has been lifted from a fantasy storybook, but this time from thousands of years ago. The early morning sun shone through the window, giving the characters a radiant and heavenly appearance alongside the tranquil faces. I could imagine the history and untold stories behind each of the characters. I felt calm and intrigued by Jenny’s display, focusing on the individuality of each sculpture, “Juju” amulets and ghost-like ceramic baby. As I stared at the hollow babies, I imagined them staring back at me despite the lack of eyeballs. The thought left me nervous, but even more curious!

Jenny Rowe's artworks

I had mixed responses to Jenny’s work. Some of the characters represented looked calm and content whilst others looked hurt and fearful. I discovered that some suggested a happy co-existence between humans and animals, demonstrating that we are all connected.

Burrinja exhibition 'A wing and a prayer'

“A Wing and a Prayer” explores spirituality and suggests ways we can live harmoniously with each other and nature, despite our different beliefs and lifestyles. It helped me gain a new understanding about religion and spirituality that has made a lasting impression on me.

The exhibition is on until the 28 September in the Jarmbi Downstairs Gallery at Burrinja, if you want to experience it yourself.


Review updated by Adriana Alvarez.

Janine Sutton’s work is a journey of discovering spirituality through cultural icons and the pop culture kitsch that surrounds us. Some paired down yet vibrantly painted, others laden with so much detail, you could spend ages looking to find the hidden treasure, toys and bling that is part of our modern existence. Her artists statement reveals the complicated thinking process that such a loaded subject as this would bring. Expressing the dilemma that spirituality and religion can often pose for us all.

Janine Sutton A wing and a prayerJanine Sutton

Like Lisa Von Mueller, I am a huge fan of glossy magazines so I was drawn to Lisa’s work immediately. She has used collages of her old magazines to recreate medieval madonnas and saints into modern day idols to worship. The collages have then been printed onto silk and embellished here and there with some paint and beading work. Her modern take on these religious icons real and imagined bring to life in a modern sense the stories of worship and martyrdom of women who are scarred and tortured for their beliefs. These modern day saints have perhaps not come such a long way from their early counterparts and show us that the past is often repeating itself. And as always you have to fight for what you believe in.

Lisa Von Mueller Lisa Von Mueller collages Lisa Von Mueller 'a Wing and a prayer'

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Hugo Racz’s clean slate

mirror final 6.0Hugo at laptop portraits at window

Post by Amy Middleton.

I am happy that I don’t know you… because the best it yet to come!

I am not going to pretend to know or understand Hugo Racz. In fact, what I ‘think’ I know about him I have gathered from a few short encounters and the assumptions I have lifted from his artwork.

Hugo’s paintings first caught my attention when I curated the VCE Creative Showcase at Burrinja late last year. His collection of digital prints and paintings was raw, edgy, authentic and brave. The fusion of uninhibited mark making and clashing colours in his work is eye catching and has an undercurrent of aggressive playfulness. What also caught my attention were the tiny insights and clues that littered the canvas and gave insight into Hugo’s thoughts and observations of the world around him.

I was delighted when he agreed to create a new body of work for a solo show at Burrinja. Tabula Rasa will be open to view at the Jarmbi Gallery from 23 May to 15 June.The Latin term tabula rasa translates in English to ‘clean slate’, which refers to starting again. Hugo explained his choice of title by saying, “I feel as though I have moved onto a new chapter in my life having finished high school last year. My routine has totally changed and my mind is fresh, it’s as though I am starting again; a clean slate. The term also specifically refers to a scraped tablet from which writing has been erased. From a creative perspective this solely relates to most of my art, in which I often scrub out entire sections of the image to either start again or simply cover over with more paint. By removing or crossing out words and lines, they become more meaningful in their absence.” I get the sense that this statement is a hopeful one… and I am excited by that!

onboarddogeweb onboardpullingteethweb Insomnia

When I visited Hugo at his studio last week it became obvious that this laid back young guy possesses a creative restlessness and genuine passion for making art. Hugo describes his art as “warped depictions of my personal life and the world around me. I try to portray internal emotions, thoughts and spirituality as a tangible, exterior manifestation; brought to life using primitive line application and a vivid colour pallet to create.” This statement seems a tall order even for a seasoned artist, let alone a young guy who has only just finished school. Hugo does however; seem to have a deep inner strength that I believe will serve him well in years to come. He doesn’t seem to say very much with his words, but he has clearly found a voice to express his inner world. My hope for him is that he can continue to create honest art, and that the world around him continues to provide enough creative fodder for a long career.

Hugo painting Hugo Razc in studio Hugo at mirror

Tabula Rasa opens officially on Friday 23 May at 6.30 pm
at Burrinja – Cnr Glenfern Rd and Matson Drive, Upwey.
Please come along to check out Hugo’s work and meet the man himself!

Photos of Hugo’s artwork courtesy of Jacqui Christians. Photos of Hugo at his studio by Amy Middleton.