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It’s a week since my residency at The Artery, but opportunities to enjoy the arts haven’t slowed down. Of course it is December – the month of end-of-year events.

The Lazy River Writers celebrated a successful year, the day before I left for Warrnambool; the Sisters of Depravity (or SODs, as my other writing group is known), celebrated on my return, with fine food at Four Figs, where we’ve often met to critique each other’s eagerly awaited, next instalment.

I helped to hang SECAN’s Chinese Whispers Project on Friday. This private exhibition was the backdrop for our end-of-year gathering and was a prelude to a future public exhibition. As such, some works are still to be added to the show and one was a work-in-progress.

The project was instigated by Arpad, who created a painting inspired by a square painting by Joseph. Another SECAN member saw Arpad’s painting and made a sketch to reference when creating their own work. When it became apparent the year would end before everyone could have a turn, we switched to several artists basing their creation on the same previously sighted picture.

SECAN’s Chinese Whispers

The nature of the project meant we couldn’t hang the exhibition until all the works had been delivered (along with a label stating whose work was used as the reference).

The Cardinia Christmas Carols Choir rehearsed with the band, and without; had a sound check at the venue (The Pakenham Footy Oval, next to Toomuc Creek) on Saturday afternoon, then entertained at the big event, opened by Mayor Cr. Brett Owen.

We had a great turn-out, with hundreds of candles marking clusters of families and friends picnicking on the grass and enjoying the music and merriment. The nativity scene was re-enacted by local children and animals as related Carols were sung – and Santa arrived on a fire truck. The event ended with families ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ as fireworks popped and painted the sky.

As my Mind Drawing Children’s Stories Project completed the first stop of its tour at Blarney Books and Art, in Port Fairy, I received the good news that my application for a Small Change Grant from the Shire of Cardinia, was successful. Yay! This will support some of the activities in the second stop on the tour – the Cardinia Cultural Centre: 10 January until 10 February 2017. There will be workshops and free family activities on January 20 & 23; and the exhibition opening and book launch will be on Wednesday 8th February at 1pm and 7pm.

To meet one of the terms of the grant, I upgraded my NAVA membership from ‘premium’ to ‘premium plus’ so I could access the insurances, including the $20 million indemnity insurance. To have my professional membership approved, and thus finalise my acceptance of the Small Change Grant, I brought my CV up to date by adding a couple of group shows (Cardinia Cultural Centre and gate 6), my solo exhibition at Blarney Books and Art, and my residency at The Artery.

I also had to describe my arts practice and include a few examples of my work. I had plenty to choose from, and it was a wonderful feeling to speak of the current phase of my career, knowing exactly where I’m heading, my values and goals, and how I plan to get there.

The other good news I received was from the City of Casey, informing me that my Mind Drawing Children’s Stories Project will be exhibiting at the Council’s Art Space at Endeavour Hills Library (5 April – 29 May 2017).

Of RabbitsandWriting by Jenni ivins

I just need to secure one more exhibition venue (Burrinja Cultural Centre) for the tour to have returned to all the municipalities where communities were engaged as work was created.