So… it’s Good Friday. I’m not necessarily a religious person but I believe that the values held dearest – not just by Christianity but by most religions across the globe – have great social value. So, while my hot cross buns are rising I thought I’d do a little Easter spiel about helping each other out.

This year, I’ve been lucky enough to land a place in the Territory Wildlife Park Artist in the Park program for the second year running. How did this happen? It wasn’t on my agenda, that’s for sure.

Another of last year’s artists, Kylie Frewen-Lord (check out her gorgeous silk collage lampshades here) contacted me, saying ‘You didn’t feel like you’d finished in the park last year, did you?’ No. I did not. ‘Well,’ she says, ‘we can reapply together, as a group’.

Really?

Yep, really. So Kylie got busy on our application. I sent her all my stuff, but to be honest, she did most of the work. And we got in. Big thanks to Kylie, you rock.

So there but for the grace of her hard work, go I.

I was delighted to see that three artists I had recommended the program to last year had also been accepted this year. (You can check them out too: Chiggy, Sarah Martin and Liz Martin).

I could choose to feel threatened by other artists – especially given that two of these hugely talented women are textile artists, both using digital printing to output their designs. But, rather than see them as competition, I prefer to see them as my colleagues and help them out where the opportunity arises, as so many have done for me. After all, it would have taken me much longer to discover digital fabric printing if it had not been for another local artist, Nat Uhing, (who is currently travelling the world in a sailing boat) telling me about Spoonflower back in 2011 when I was in the throes of disentangling myself from an executive position in the hope of a more creative life.

Anyway, I mingled along to our orientation day at the park, where the lucky artists chosen were given information about the exciting possibilities ahead by the park’s artistic and narrative officer (and local superstar artist) Jasmine Jan.

Last year, I didn’t even meet all the other artists, as they weren’t all able to make the orientation day. I actually only ever saw two of them again – Kylie and photographer, Carly O’Neill (who I am hatching plans with for later in the year… stay tuned). This year, I have a feeling it will be different. There is a collegiate feeling amongst the group. Everyone is super excited – and super keen to stay connected. By the end of orientation, there were already plans afoot for a communal camp out in the park and the menu of the first dinner party was being planned. People are talking about collaborations, joint exhibitions, meet-ups to make art and just plain old hanging out. There is so much potential here for a really enriching experience that goes beyond what is already on offer from the park, which is fantastic in itself. I’m excited. I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up (figuratively speaking, given that it is too hot in Darwin to wear sleeves – especially now) and get stuck in.

And before I finish up – I must mention two other talented Darwin artists who are generous with their time and skills. These wonderful women came along and helped me out with the doll painting workshop a few weeks ago and next week we are hooking up again to sharpen our product photography skills together. These women, Isabel Lopes and Luna Bird, are becoming part of my close network of super helpful artist friends. Check ‘em out. They’re awesome.

I find that being generous with my knowledge and skills comes back to me in spades. And damn, it makes me feel good. More importantly, it makes the people I’ve helped feel good and sometimes gives them something that is really useful. It might be that I’ve edited something for them, or helped them with a funding application, offered useful feedback, told them about an opportunity they could take advantage of, helped them with a skill or to find an elusive craft supply or a wonderful place to be inspired by – the more we help each other out the better we all become. As artists. As people.

Happy Easter folks.

Reflecting on your arts practice is rewarding, but there’s a real glow that comes from knowing you are helping others along their path too.

Goose Lagoon, Territory Wildlife Park