The ResidencyThe guest on The Fine Line on Tuesday 8 July was Tara Leckey, newly appointed Coordinator of Heritage Alice Springs’ exciting new art program at The Residency.

Tara outlined the fascinating history of The Residency which was built in 1927 and is one of Alice Springs’ most important and last remaining intact historic houses still open to the visiting public and tourists.  It is of unique heritage significance as the “seat of administration” for the short-lived period (1926 – 31) when central Australia enjoyed legislative independence from the rest of the Northern Territory. The Residency located in the Alice Springs CBD (next to the Post Office), on the corner of Hartley and Parsons Street has a long history in Alice Springs as a hub of social and cultural activity, including being renowned for hosting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during their visit in 1963.

In April this year Heritage Alice Springs in an initiative with the Araluen Cultural Precinct, refurbished The Residency and it was re-opened by the Hon. Matt Conlan MLA, Minister for Arts and Museums. Tara spoke how the Residency now includes a dedicated exhibition space overseen by local weaver and textile artist Nicky Schonkala and how it is set to become a venue for unique small-scale arts events and activities through their new program of arts, cultural and heritage focused activities.

Tara said that the first round of applications to exhibit, perform or stage an event at the Residency in from July 2014 to June 2015 has now closed and advised that the full program will be announced soon. Tara mentioned that the program may include exhibitions, poetry readings, literature events, performances by local musicians and other performing artists and that through a successful grant, applicants will be supported to present their activity.

Tara went on to say that the first event of this exciting new program is a two-day creative nonfiction writing workshop with Kim Mahood on Sat 19th and Sunday 20th July, 2014.  Kim Mahood, author of Craft for a Dry Lake, which won several awards for nonfiction including The Age Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Award, lives near Canberra and has taught at the ANU School of Art for many years. She currently spends several months each year in the Tanami and Great Sandy Desert region, working on projects with Aboriginal traditional owners.

Tara spoke how Kim’s essay “Kartiya are like Toyotas: White Workers on Australia’s Cultural Frontier” was included in the Griffith Review Best Australian Essay 2012.  The work, described by Karyl Davison (Griffith Review 36: What is Australia For?) as a ‘brutal and cutting account of white workers in often remote and isolated Aboriginal communities, highlights the challenges faced by well-meaning but largely unprepared and often unsuitable workers’, will resonate with many Central Australians, especially those who have lived and worked on community.

Tara encouraged all those interested to attend the workshop to get in touch with her on 0416 820 530. The workshop is suitable for beginners who are prepared to be challenged as well as more advanced writers and is a unique opportunity to work closely with and learn from an award winning author.

Sculpture by William RickettsTara also spoke of the small and dedicated group of members of Heritage Alice Springs (HAS) who are also responsible for the upkeep and ongoing maintenance of the Pitchi-Richi Sanctuary, located south of Heavitree Gap on Palm Circuit. Pitchi-Richi was established by the late Leo Corbet around 1955. Originally it was developed as a bird sanctuary and place to which he welcomed locals and visitors to the Territory.

The HAS volunteers with the help of a caretaker are slowly restoring Pitch- Richi to its natural habitat and it is hoped to be reopened to the public so that once again one will be able to view the open-air museum and the clay and kiln-fired sculptures, the work of Victorian sculptor William Ricketts, who’s face and hands are seen in many of the works.

Jen Standish-White talks with Tara Leckey, newly appointed Coordinator of Heritage Alice Springs’ exciting new arts program at The Residency.

Broadcast: Tuesday 8 July 2014 at 12 noon on 8CCC Community Radio 102.1FM

Producer and Presenter: Jen Standish-White