A lovely collision of CREATE and second birthday celebrations brought the Wee Waa Arts and Cultural Centre (WWCACC) to life on Saturday night, March 16.

WWCACC coordinator Lisa Almagro was honoured to experience the success of the special evening, which opened Wee Waa’s third CREATE exhibition, and marked two years as the community arts hub for Wee Waa.

“It was spectacular, I love nights like that in Wee Waa, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it,” said Lisa.

The sold-out CREATE Festival exhibit themed ‘My Country’ saw 65 art enthusiasts welcomed with a cultural smoking ceremony performed by Clinton Lamb, who invited each guest to walk through the smoke, be cleansed and enjoy a moment, before entering the exhibition.

Mr Lamb also explained the significance of the ceremony, following Helen Wenner’s heartfelt acknowledgement to country in both native language and English.

Shire council CREATE director and WWCACC committee president Scott Pollock acted as official meet-and-greeter and MC for the event, alongside artist Ethan Towns, who also displayed his art as part of the CREATE exhibition.

“This event wouldn’t have happened without tireless work of our committee who are all volunteers, and they make it possible for me to do what I do, which is the job of my dreams,” said Lisa.

Mayor Darrell Tiemens provided the official opening ceremonial speech for the occasion and championed the artists and the town of Wee Waa for its budding cultural achievements.

Twenty-seven local, regional, and interstate artists contributed to a collection of more than 50 pieces from many different mediums including paintings, prints, sculptures, jewellery, glass mosaics, and 11 pieces were sold on the opening night, including a beautiful cotton-inspired necklace by Wee Waa jewellery artist Leanne Davis.

The youngest artist joining his very first exhibition was Wee Waa’s own 11-year-old Jaxon Smith with his painting ‘Battle of the Bandaar and Dhinawan’. Jaxon is the nephew of Vivianne Smith Jr, of Vam’s Paintings, a regular contributor to WWCACC and the inspiration behind the community boomerang wall which will open in June this year.

Connie Smith provided the delicious catering for the event, and photographer Penny Vella brought her Sip’n Chill bar to delighted attendees.

Artists and committee members Ethan Towns and Jessica Smith both spoke about how the WWCACC has been incremental to their artistic journey.

Mr Towns was inspired to attend the WWCACC and meet Lisa when he moved back to Wee Waa to pursue his PhD, and as a result of her encouragement has contributed many more pieces of his own work, including his Cyril Knox award-winning ‘The Shape of Changing’.

“It’s very important that we’ve actually got to this two year point, Wee Waa has been lacking an artistic presence, and now we’ve accomplished so much,” said Mr Towns.

“The artists that come here have flourished, it’s a safe space to find yourself, a space where you can feel comfortable to be yourself and really grow.”

Jess Smith recently visited every school in Wee Waa, where every child contributed to the 262 fish displayed in the CREATE ‘Walk With Us’ exhibition at The Crossing Theatre.

The Yarrie Lake resident, calls herself a Narrabri and Wee Waa ‘inbetweener’, and is based at the WWCACC.

“This arts hub is the best thing that’s ever happened for my art, it’s a good experience to be a part of, to get involved in something you’re passionate about, and great for the up and coming children,” said Jess.

When asked to reflect on her own role as centre coordinator over the last two years at WWCACC, Mrs Almagro was reminded of the hub’s first Instagram post – a quote from movie Field of Dreams ‘If you build it, they will come.’

“And come, they certainly have,” said Lisa.

Now going into their third year, the cultural centre has a full calendar for 2024, including more travelling exhibitions, workshops, feature artists and events.

The not-for-profit organisation also offers hire room and workshop space and encourages everyone in the community to become a lifetime member of the community arts and culture.

“Since we opened, we’ve had incredible momentum, through word of mouth and social media.

“We have quite the following, and the love and support from Wee Waa and the wider shire community is quite special.

“We have people from Lightning Ridge, Pilliga, Rowena and the smaller towns, who don’t have to travel to Narrabri just to do an arts course.”

The WWCACC is proud to be a home for creative souls, and welcomes everyone to come in and enjoy working in the space, and hopes to become a permanent showcase for Gomilaroi culture in the region.

“We are a hub and everyone is welcome, thank you for supporting us, and it really has been a joy and a privilege,” said Lisa.

“I also totally forgot to get a cake, so next year, someone please remind me.”

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