When your regional office is someone else’s kitchen table

I travel. It’s part of the way the whole thing works. I travel to teach (watercolour, printmaking or both)and I travel to create projects about people’s shearing sheds.
I travel by bus, and plane and car and train, and when I get there someone meets me and gives me a nice cup of tea. We sit at their kitchen table and it’s there that my real work begins.
I chat.
I tell stories about what I do and I listen to what they want.

I hear the stories of the place and the people. If this is the first visit I’m learning about what’s important. If it’s one of the several I end up making to that particular family I’ll be continuing the conversations that will spread over and beyond the life of this project. A painting project can take several years from initial phone call to completed exhibition, it’s a long term relationship I’m developing over those cups of tea. Then there’s  meals and guest rooms and “what would you like for breakfast” and special deserts that have taken me to a point of saying no to all sugar, because I just can’t handle it any more. And I can never stop at one.

Depending on why I’m there, one of two things happen the next day.  I set up my teaching studio at the school, or the workshop space and I teach very hard for a day or more. I might be teaching painting, or printmaking or art business. I might be working with adults or the students at the local school. It’s fun and I love this part of my practice.

Or I might be painting the shearing shed.

Christine Porter in the field near Blackall Queensland, Australia
Christine Porter Artist in the field near Blackall Queensland, Australia. Note comfy chair and shade – even in winter the sun in Queensland is strong

I start before dawn usually – those early morning rays of sunlight are pretty important . I sketch and paint and photograph all day. I usually stop for a few hours at lunchtime to rest my eyes and my body. Then I’ll work through until the sun has moved across to the other side of the sky. A full day shows me the different ways the sunlight and shadows play across the building. It’s when the creativity happens. When the hidden stories become apparent. My sketchbooks are the vital part of my day. They are both a record and a way of seeing.

The Regional Office

When I travel and stay with families, I take my business tools with me. I sit in their guest room and, if there’s mobile reception, I check my emails and the business social media feeds. I take phone calls and keep a weather eye on the running of the business in absentia.  It’s not a perfect way to be in business but it keeps things going, but the world has changed since all communications were done with handwritten letters via post and pony.

If my studio in Lismore is my head office, then my regional offices are in the regions too – all over whichever part of regional and rural Australia my inspiration is that week.

Kitchen tables of the world, I thank you.

 

Certain parts of my "Regional Office" have the same elements as at home. Modern communications mean I can be in touch with my business while I'm on the road. Mind you, there is a large proviso that in many parts of regional Australia there is no mobile coverage. This beautiful mug is by Lismore artist and MaxwellWilliams artist Katherine Castle.
Certain parts of my “Regional Office” have the same elements as at home. Modern communications mean I can be in touch with my business while I’m on the road. Mind you, there is a large proviso that in many parts of regional Australia there is no mobile coverage. This beautiful mug is by Lismore artist and MaxwellWilliams artist Katherine Castle.
Christine Porter Sketchbook. "Newstead" It is here that the creativity kicks in. Ideas, thoughts, sometimes full projects evolve on these pages.
Christine Porter Sketchbook. “Newstead” It is here that the creativity kicks in. Ideas, thoughts, sometimes full projects evolve on these pages.

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