“The Pilbara is in my blood. I love this weather and as soon as I fly in here it reminds me of home- even though I’ve lived in cities for so long.” Mark Tweedie, 2018.

Acclaimed West Australian visual artist Mark Tweedie visited a group of Hedland Senior High School students in October to teach them about his professional creative artist practice.

The two-hour workshop, facilitated by Tweedie alongside FORM curator Andrew Nicholls, allowed students to explore their creative side and experiment with new techniques such as using multiple colours and layers.

Tweedie, who grew up in the Pilbara himself, said he felt grateful for the opportunity to mentor the crop of young talent in Hedland and encourage them to explore their creative side and get into art.

“When I was at school I didn’t meet any artists- it’s not often you get the chance to meet professionals coming into the school,” he said.

“The main goal of the workshop was so that the kids could get out of their comfort zone and experiment.

“At the end of the session we held all the works together and there was quite a lot of variation in their style and technique- even though we were using the same photo.”

Tweedie considers himself a regional person at heart, having lived in the regional towns of Tom Price and Paraburdoo until the age of five.

“The Pilbara is in my blood,” he said.

“Any chance I can take to get to the Pilbara I’ll say yes in a heartbeat- I love it up here.

“I love this weather and as soon as I fly in here it reminds me of home- even though I’ve lived in cities for so long.”

Tweedie described the large scale rock formations and contrasting colours of the blue skies and red dirt as both inspiring and overwhelming.

“I try and reduce the colours and focus on certain aspects. I focus on certain colours of the Pilbara and de-saturate other colours,” he said.

Tweedie’s visit was held as part of a FORM pilot program which has been running for the past year with Hedland schools.

When appropriate, FORM’s visiting artists deliver programs for the schools, which has resulted in unique creative development for over 100 young people from Hedland since 2017.

The program resulted in renowned Melbourne-based painter Gian Manik visiting Hedland Senior High School twice between 2017 and 2018.

Manik spent a month in the Pilbara in early 2017, developing new works at FORM’s Spinifex Hill Studios in South Hedland.

The centrepiece of Manik’s residency was an experimental collaboration with 53 Hedland Senior High School students (ranging from years 8-12) over three days while he was a guest artist at the School.

Manik mentored the students in painting technique, and encouraged them to sketch and paint details of the South Hedland landscape on to a 10-meter long canvas. This was then over-painted by the artist with his own impressions of the town. The resulting monumental collaborative artwork signified an exciting new direction in Manik’s practice: a chaotic, layered aesthetic combining diverse mark-making and humorous juxtaposition.

Manik returned to Port Hedland between 22-28 July to create a new collaborative work with HSHS students for his exhibition National Trust, which opened at the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery on July 27.

Award-winning children’s author Cristy Burne presented a workshop for St. Cecelia’s Primary School students in August, and a follow-up drop-in workshop at the West End Markets. FORM has also been delighted to invite Alex Tate to deliver a virtual reality workshop at the August West End Markets and Dallas Woods- performer and rapper, to deliver children’s arts programming at the October West End Markets.