The art of support

Art for bales raising funds for farmers

100 Stories of Hope
Alexandra Plim is one of 200 artists involved in the Art For Bales campaign in 2019.

Alexandra Plim is one of 200 artists involved in the Art For Bales campaign in 2019.

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Art For Bales raised a mammoth $77,000 in its inaugural year and Andrea Hamann said their tally for 2019 was closing in on $80,000.

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Creative by nature, two artists have found a unique way to bring together a community and raise funds for drought-stricken regions.

What began in 2018 with Kate Pittas, Queensland, and Andrea Hamann, New South Wales, donating the sale price of a painting to Rural Aid's Buy A Bale campaign, has snowballed into a collective effort that's gone viral in the online art world.

Art For Bales raised a mammoth $77,000 in its inaugural year and Ms Hamann said their tally for 2019 was closing in on $80,000.

"With Art For Bales, our goal is threefold: raising the funds, raising awareness of just how badly the drought is affecting people outside the cities, and - from a mental health perspective - letting affected communities know that we haven't forgotten about them," she said.

"We're not a charity, we're literally just two people who set up a campaign."

The campaign is run purely through an Instagram page, artists register their work with the page and sell the work themselves, then donate the funds to Buy A Bale.

"We act as a clearing house, promote who the artist is and a little bit about them and we promote the work that they've got available for sale for the donation to Rural Aid," Ms Hamann said.

"We ask the buyer or the seller to send us the donation receipt so we know that the money has been donated, and then we tally off the basis of the receipts that we get."

Joan Blond's Vibrations of the Spring Garden was part of Art For Bales.

Joan Blond's Vibrations of the Spring Garden was part of Art For Bales.

Ms Hamann said the funds they raised may only be a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to help farmers, but the campaign was about "making people realise people still care even though there's not much we can do."

"It's more about raising awareness, particularly this year because it feels like it's only now people are realising how significant the drought is," she said.

"It's more about personal connections... making people realise that there are whole towns that are now having to truck water in, people just don't know.

"There's been a lot of connections made between some farmers out there and artists.

"There's an artist that made connections last year and she's actually touring now, catching up with farmers that she met through Art for Bales through Instagram, visiting them."

The artworks offered for sale included something that would suit any budget, with prices starting at $30 for the amateur connoisseur right up to $4500 for serious investors and collectors.

Among the drove of participating talent were award-winning artists like Sulman Prize finalist and Hawkesbury Art Prize winner Ben Tankard, and Paddington Art Prize winner Kiata Mason, along with Alexandra Plim, James Lai, Joan Blond, Thomas Bucich, Maggi McDonald, Tracy Dickason and Ana Young.

"Some of the people that bought art were in Texas, some were in London; we had an Australian artist who is in San Francisco that donated a piece," Ms Hamann said.

"What's important is it does help stimulate another kind of community.

"It's not face-to-face, but it hopefully helps people with isolation, knowing that there's people all over the country that are willing to try and do something to help."

The story The art of support first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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