The Spiral Gallery: non-market creativity and belonging in an Australian country town
This paper seeks to explore creative practice in an Australian country town, and in so doing, to unsettle market-orientated interpretations of creativity that privilege the urban. Instead of focusing on creative practice as a means to develop industries, we focus on how creativity is a means to establish a cooperative gallery space that helps to sustain a sense of self in an otherwise antithetical social and cultural context. The example we discuss is The Spiral Gallery, a women's co-operative arts space established in the 1990s in the small (but somewhat iconic) country town of Bega - in a place where avenues for feminist arts were otherwise absent. We demonstrate the Spiral Gallery does more than showcase creativity in the Bega Valley. In addition, the gallery has become a means to 'becoming' and 'belonging', to cultivate subjects through various practices including sculpture, performance and photography; which in turn enrich cultural life. In this way creativity in rural life comes to be understood as social, performative, visceral and political.
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