There's wine, there's surf... and then there is the creative community. Margaret River is alive with talented creatives who add to the region's personality and flavour.
Stunning places with space to breathe have a history attracting creative types, often inspired by the beauty of their surrounds. What’s striking is the depth and diversity of exceptionally creative people who live in the Margaret River region from photographers to filmmakers, painters to sculptures, musicians, writers, actors, comedians and more, not to mention the incredibly talented wine makers and chefs who are also creative by nature.
Creativity is seen as the region’s next economic driver, the next wave after the success of the dairy industry, surfing, wine and food. The peak body for the creative sector in Western Australia’s South West is Creative Corner Inc.
Creative Corner board member Marnie McKeown says the organisation’s vision is to foster, develop and grow a robust and sustainable creative industry across the region through support, innovation and advocacy.
“We see our role as important in connecting creatives across all disciplines whether that be music, film and television, photography, digital, technology, and advertising to bring clusters of like-minded people together whether that be purely as a support network or to work collaboratively,” says Marnie, who is also the State Director for Fairfax Media.
“The aim is to grow the local creative sector and position the South West as an internationally recognised region of excellence in creativity and innovation.
“The evolution of technology allows people to live the relaxed lifestyle wherever they like and produce their creative work be it for a local business, a client in Perth, the eastern seaboard or overseas.
“The Margaret River region provides a location and lifestyle that is the envy of many and that’s highlighted at each of our events. Many of the visitors are blown away by the lifestyle and capability of the creative people based here.
“It’s an incredible region that has so much variety for visitors as well as lifestyle choices for those living here – town, farm, or a beach lifestyle depending on what inspires and appeals to them the most.”
Photographer Russell Ord
From rugby league player and fireman to award-winning ocean and lifestyle photographer, Russell Ord found his passion through adventure and the discovery of the untouched and unseen wilderness. What he enjoys the most these days is discovering people’s stories and documenting those through photography.
Russell’s photography is world-renowned and has been published in magazines and books in Australia and overseas. He was awarded the 2016 IPA International Sports Photographer Of the Year at the prestigious Lucie Awards and exhibited in Germany at Photokina 2016 and Tokyo Japan 2017 for FujiFilm. His career was highlighted in the documentary “One Shot”, broadcasted nationally by the ABC in a seven part art series and internationally through Film festivals and Garage Entertainment.
Often on the road or overseas, in the past 12 months Russell’s work taken him to Indonesia, Fiji, Japan and New Zealand working with major brands and resorts. He also runs workshops on photography and ocean photography that includes how to use water housing, water safety, how to get shots with athletes and more. He’s worked with household names including Bernard Fanning, Tom Carroll, Taj Burrow just to name a few.
“Living in Margaret River is great and the kids are really happy here. For me the surf is a big bonus and I can surf here more times of the year than anywhere else,” Russell says.
Artist Stu McMillan
Relocating to Margaret River, Western Australia in 1999 for a surfing/working holiday, Stuart Instantly fell in love with the Indian Ocean and surrounding environment. Around this time a more considered and dedicated approach to creating art begun.
He expanded on his mostly self taught repertoire of artistic skills and studied a Certificate III in Contemporary Art & Craft at Margaret River TAFE. This fuelled passion for printmaking, photography, painting and sculpture, pushing him to pursue further art studies that led to Bachelor of Visual Arts at Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley.
His art tends to examine the human condition, investigating how our external world influences the internal being within multitude of habitats using a diverse sensory pallet including painting, print making, sculpture, photography, video and sound installation. This allows his ideas to translate into both traditional and contemporary dialogues.
Stuart has had pieces included in Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe, he’s worked on Cow Parade and at the time of writing, was working on a commission at Howard Park Wines titled ‘Transience’.
“I’ve never really stopped making art I was 16 years old, I consider creation as a daily ritual,” says Stuart, now aged 39.
“Having travelled and lived in towns and cities, both interstate and internationally over the past twelve years, Margaret River has drawn me back several times. It really is has the ability to recharge the soul and I feel it is my home now.
“I fell in love with the rawness of the Indian Ocean, rugged coastline, leading into dense bush and forests. There is something unique about the air, and energy of this place that invigorates the creative spirit.
“I also love the fact that such a great community of creatives live here and support each other, from film makers, photographers, musicians, sculptors, painters, writers, potters, weavers, you name it, Margaret River’s got it.”
Musician Noah Shilkin
Musician, producer, composer/songwriter, recording artist, arranger, music supervisor and talented multi-instrumentalist, Noah Shilkin has a CV that’s as long as it is impressive. He has worked with renowned artists like AC/DC, Alanis Morrisette and Bryan Adams and once worked as a songwriter and keyboardist for Australia’s legendary cult band, the Mother Goose. Furthermore, he has composed for Chevrolet, Nike, General Motors and Calvin Klein. He’s the Vice President of the WAM, WA’s state music organisation.
Noah’s song-writing catalogue features over 300 songs and has also delivered more than 3000 live performances in Australia, Europe and North America and continues to play to his ever-growing fan base. A lifelong commitment to and passion for music has seen Noah contribute as an advisor to the global music industry whilst enhancing the careers of numerous emerging artists. Settling in Margaret River, Noah created music company Lolly Box Music that connects musicians with those wanting to buy music, curates and creates music for films and television and manages talent.
Noah was in the middle of sound check at the WA Music Awards when I chatted with him.
“We have a fantastic lifestyle in Margaret River, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its challenges,” Noah says.
“The internet has seen us come a long way so we’re able to participate globally. It’s doable to be a creative and live in Margaret River, a place that is so beautiful, safe, calm and inspiring and as a result, you can do fabulous work.
“For a population of its size, it really punches above its weight and offers incredible facilities – just look at the world class skate park and the upgrades to the cultural centre for example.”
Images supplied by artists
This story was originally published in the Your Margaret River Region Magazine by Premium Publishers.