Eric Lobbecke seeking common ground in Taree community

As well as drawings and paintings, Eric is using a range of different art styles including sculpture.

As well as drawings and paintings, Eric is using a range of different art styles including sculpture.

Political cartoonist for The Australian newspaper Eric Lobbecke has been busy hearing Taree stories and creating a visual representation of them on the Manning Regional Art Gallery wall.

Shark tale: Eric Lobbecke works on one of the many artworks that make up part of his Wall Project, 'Common Ground'. He invites the community in to tell him their Taree story.

Shark tale: Eric Lobbecke works on one of the many artworks that make up part of his Wall Project, 'Common Ground'. He invites the community in to tell him their Taree story.

As part of his Wall Project, titled Common Ground, his aim is to speak to as many people as possible and then look for the similarities amongst the differences.

“At the end of two weeks I will do a projection onto the wall to try and figure out what brings them all together as one,” he said.

He wants to talk to as many different people from all walks of life as he can over his stay, from our indigenous community and refugees living locally to the broader public.

He arrived at the gallery on Wednesday last week and from the very first day the project started to take shape.

From his uncle Tom White who worked as the Moto mailman for many years but who retired 20 years ago and now grows sunflowers in his front yard.

Then there was Allan, who worked on fishing trawlers who told of an occasion of being out to sea with a drunk captain when a shark came aboard and his captain pulled out a gun to try and shoot it and being more scared of the gun than the shark.

The blind soldier, the father of a local woman, who returned blind from fighting New Guinea and was given another trade and learned to weave.

As the stories have flowed this week, the artwork on the wall has grown.

The images are all representations of people and experiences that are part of the Taree story as a whole.

Eric Lobbecke wants people to come into the Manning Regional Art Gallery to tell him their Taree story.

Eric Lobbecke wants people to come into the Manning Regional Art Gallery to tell him their Taree story.

Eric has had a long association with the Manning Valley, married for 27 years to artist Vicki White who was born and bred in Chatham.

“It has a melting pot of people who come from the city and the bush.”

He said his project also shows the sort of people who come to the gallery, a valuable resource for Taree.

“It’s quite renowned in the art world,” he said. “In Sydney we know all about the Manning gallery.”

The artworks themselves will depict different people and life experiences, but the project will reveal what we have in common too.

“We’re always hearing bad stories about what differences we have.

“We focus on differences and consider ways of widening the gap in our relationships. An argument has two sides with very little commonality. My interests are in finding similarities in the polarity of any conflict, and to do so visually".

The second part of the project will be an animated time-based drawing produced on the iPad with the aid of a projector to look for commonalities between the pre-hung works. Eric is at the Manning Regional Art Gallery until February 26.

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