Spirit of the Land

Sculpture of Ned Kelly at the Spirit of the Land festival, Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia.

This weekend past Adam and I went on a fact-finding mission.  Adam’s recently become involved in a project that will see him oversee a tour of an inclusive, disability friendly stage to a number of festivals around region next year.  One of the events the stage will feature at is Lockhart’s Spirit of the Land festival.  So to get a better understanding of the festival and scope out potential locations for the stage, we decided to go along and check it out for ourselves…

Lockhart is a lovely little town about 40 minutes to the south west of Wagga Wagga, famous for its main street full of buildings with big shady awnings.  The Spirit of the Land festival was started by a group of locals more than a decade ago during a particularly nasty drought, as a way to celebrate the resilience of those in the farming community.

It’s grown over the years and the event’s biggest draw card is perhaps the National Farm Art Sculpture Awards.  Essentially sculptors create amazing pieces of artwork using metal and other bits and pieces commonly found around farms.   They weld them together and what may have looked like a pile a junk to one person, is suddenly transformed into something quite amazing.

Goanna sculpture at the 2018 Spirit of the Land festival in Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia.

The entries in the award are displayed on the banks of the Brookong Creek, which runs through town, allowing visitors to stroll past the sculptures at a leisurely pace under the shade of huge leafy trees.

I was particularly taken with a sculpture of a ‘bunyip‘ – a mythical creature from Indigenous Australian folklore.  Bunyips apparently liked water, so this one seemed right at home on the banks of the creek.  There was something about his face  that reminded me of Toady from the Wind in the Willows book from my childhood and I instantly took a liking to him.

Bunyip sculpture at the Spirit of the Land festival at Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia.

Many of the sculptures entered in the annual competition end up finding a permanent home in Lockhart and all throughout town are wonderful public art displays – a reminder from festivals of years gone by.  It’s so nice to see public art in country communities. It often feels like you only see displays in big cities, but I’m so glad we’ve got a town locally that embraces that creativity.

Cockatoo sculpture in Lockhart, New South Wales, Australia.

Apart from the farm art, the festival also boasts a market, live music, open gardens and an art show.  The Lockhart Memorial Hall is not the Louvre by any means, but there were some outstanding paintings and I really appreciated the effort that had gone into decorating the space – lots of hessian, branches of gum trees and wattles and of course hay bales.  It was country Australian chic at its finest.

Art on display in the Lockhart Memorial Hall, New South Wales, Australia.

Pair of white plimsolls standing near bale of hail and gum tree branch.

The festival runs over two days every October – but you can easily do the rounds and see everything within a few hours. It was the perfect way to spend part of a lovely spring weekend and wonderful to support a local town, that yet again is dealing with the effects of drought once more.  The spirit of the land is well and truly alive in Lockhart.

Have a wonderful week. x









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