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I really want to convey the experience that I had visiting Lorenna Grant.  She’s the latest Artist in Residence at Laughing Waters near Eltham. In the couple of hours I was there, I had a very tiny taste of the environment that residency offers. I had no idea how special it would be. Getting there was a real test of my navigational skills. Dirt tracks and the absence of numbers on gates all added to the challenge. I was pretty relieved when I found it at last. It was a cold grey day so my eyes were immediately drawn to the blazing open fire visible through the front doors and windows of the house, designed by the legendary Alistair Knox.  After a quick warm by the fire, the audible sound of ‘laughing water’ courtesy of the Yarra River, drew me outside.  Aaah, the fresh air, the birds, that amplified sound of water over rocks- aptly named…just magic!  A landscape unsullied by buildings and roads.  

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Once I’d had my fill of the laughing water, I settled in beside the fire with a nice cup of tea. I heard from Lorenna (below) about days devoid of TV and radio.  About early mornings enjoyed with a cup of tea in bed while writing for an hour and a half. About not being bored…once…during the weeks she has been there. (I found myself silently wondering where I sign up and if writing a daily blog about that experience would qualify.) Then of course, ultimately about the work she’s been moved to create while she’s been there.   

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She often doesn’t see another human being for days on end.  It’s clear though that the absence of people has made space for Lorenna to connect with nature in a very significant way.  It’s not surprising therefore that the work she’s doing is all about the environment. About her deeply felt sense of connectedness with the literal core of the universe. This sublime dress (below) is a work in progress that uses leaves from the surrounding environment. Lorenna has collected thousands of leaves, eaten by micro organisms so that the leaf skeleton is all that remains. She thinks of them as leaf lingerie. They are indeed beautiful in their own right, but by cleverly gluing them together she has created a dress worthy of the lovely Kate Middleton. An ephemeral sculpture of great beauty. Other works are coming into being but Lorenna says that most of all, this experience has been so deep and abiding that it will stay with her and inform her work even when she’s not there. 

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A mask, titled,  “Belief is a Tick.”

Lorenna expressed heartfelt gratitude for the Nillumbik Shire for their preparedness to offer this unique residency, for artists to go deeply into themselves within a nourishing environment. She regards that as one of the greatest gifts anyone can give another human being.  If you’re interested in applying for this life altering residency, contact the Nillumbik Shire through their website.

Lorenna will be the guest presenter at the Red Chair event on Wednesday 1st of June held at the Barn at Montsalvat at 7pm.  To book please contact Montsalvat.

For more information about Lorenna, go to her website.