Donna Fortescue - Artist in Residence

Donna Fortescue - Artist in Residence

Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Narrogin, as the oldest daughter of Don and Valda Banfield. We lived on a wheat and sheep farm in Tincurrin for most of my early years.
I moved to Perth and studied Recreation at university and then later studied my degree in Visual Arts, which has always been a passion. Until recently, I was working as an Artist and Arts Administrator at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery. I am married with two wonderful boys, Keegan and Hayden, who I absolutely adore. My husband Geoff and I enjoy working with family members and with the entire team at Willie Creek Pearls. Travelling to and from Broome and Willie Creek Pearl Farm is always an adventure and it is always so good to spend time with our family. 

What is the favourite part of the Willie Creek Pearl Farm experience? 
Every time I come to Willie Creek Pearl Farm, I am fascinated by the tide, it is always different, always moving and I could watch it for hours. I have also been lucky enough to be here for beautiful sunsets, with a glass of wine and to enjoy the peacefulness of nature after a busy day. It is a privilege to see the pinks and reds in the sky while the water changes colour underneath - it is truly a magical part of Western Australia. The threat of the local crocodiles watching from the bank on the other side adds a thrill to the experience and I am quite happy they tend to stick to their side of the creek. It is a very exciting place to visit. 

As the Artist in Residence, what does your job entail? 
The focus of my role is to enhance the experience of travellers to Willie Creek Pearl Farm by providing a cultural, artistic experience for visitors to enjoy. I will be working on sculptures along the tracks and within the grounds of Willie Creek Pearl Farm, giving tour leaders and guests driving out more to see and talk about on the way to the Farm, as well as more for tour participants to see and discover during their visit.
I am hoping it will add to the atmosphere of the Farm and put the Banfield story into a bigger visual format, that others can enjoy and ultimately start conversations that will make Willie Creek Pearl Farm an interesting destination that people will want to return to.  

What is your greatest artistic career achievement so far? 
In 2015, I created a work that has now been acquired by the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. It was titled “Beneath the Southern Cross We Stand” and it is a statement about the need to stand up for the Australian environment in the same way Australia stood up during the Battle of the Eureka Stockade in 1854. I used natural materials such as Red Gum Gumnuts, Xanthorrhoea (Grass tree) fronds, Banksia leaves and Hessian to make a replica of the Southern Cross flag, which measured

2 meters by 1.3 metres. I try to use materials in my sculptures that relate to the environment in which they stand.

To see more of my work and the process behind making the different sculptures you see here today, you can follow me @StrongShieldStudios on Instagram.

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