The Wild Mountain Collective

We citizens of the City of Blue Mountains live in 26 urban villages surrounded by wilderness—the one million hectares of the ancient, rugged Blue Mountains World Heritage Area of temperate eucalypt forests, vivid red sandstone cliff faces, deep ravines and gorges and plunging waterfalls.  Over 4 million people visit us each year to replenish their connection to nature and the wild.  Our villages are home to a rich variety of creative artists across all genres, lovers of nature and environmentalists. The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is the traditional homeland of at least six Aboriginal language groups: the Wanaruah, Wiradjuri, Gundungurra, Dharawal, Darug and Darkinjung people, and includes 8 conservation areas, including the Blue Mountains, Wollemi, Garden of Stones and Kanangra-Boyd National Parks. Two-thirds of it is dedicated as wilderness, including the two largest declared wilderness areas on the eastern Australian mainland.

The Wild Mountain Collective is a project of the Blue Mountains Creative Arts Network (BMCAN), which has formerly operated as the Blue Mountains Artists Network (BMAN). It organises exhibitions, arts trails and open studios for its members and auspices grants and is currently developing two new initiatives: The Talking Art Project and the Wild Mountain Collective.

BMCAN aims to be a network supporting a vibrant, sustainable, creative arts community through leadership, member services and collaborative partnerships.

The Wild Mountain Collective has been formed by a group of people using the rich variety of the creative arts to explore the power of narrative—the stories we tell ourselves about the nature of reality and meaning and purpose of life.  Our members include painters, writers, sculptors, sound artists and podcasters, filmmakers, and photographers, as well as thinkers and philosophers of life. Never has this exploration been more important than today as we enter the era of the Anthropocene being shaped by the global challenges of global warming, species extinctions and environmental degradation.

As the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on planetary health notes, a growing body of evidence shows that the health of humanity is intrinsically linked to the health of the environment, but by its actions humanity now threatens to destabilise the Earth’s key life-support systems.  In short, we have mortgaged the health of future generations to realise economic and development gains in the present.

The Wild Mountain Collective is inspired by the Dark Mountain Project, a UK based network of writers, artists and thinkers, and the Alliance for Wild Ethics, a US based consortium of individuals and organisations founded by David Abram, a cultural ecologist and geophilosopher who has written extensively on cultural causes and consequences of environmental disarray, catalysing the burgeoning field of ecopsychology. We also draw inspiration from our own Australian eco-philosophers such as Freya Mathews and the anthropologist Deborah Bird-Rose, the artists Janet Laurence and Roland Hemmert, and poet, Mark Tredinnick, who along with our own Lorraine Shannon, were founding members of the Kangaloon Creative Ecologies Group.

In particular the Wild Mountain Collective acknowledges the 60,000 year cultural relationship between Australia’s indigenous peoples and Australia’s natural environment, recorded in songlines, music, dance, art, storytelling and kinship structures.

Using co-creation our members are currently exploring the following range of activities:

  • A book/writers club with a blog: www.wildmountaincollective.com.au
  • Podcasts: exploring the wild through dialogue
  • Conversations and Forums about recovering the wild and re-imagining our relationship with the natural world at venues such as Pigeon Lane, Gallery One88, Katoomba
  • Exhibitions, including mixed media and photographic
  • Art therapy workshops, including the healing power of connecting with the natural world

Our activities are only limited by our collective creative energies.  If you are interested in finding out more about the Wild Mountain Collective, a project of the Blue Mountains Creative Arts Network, contact: Barbara Lepani, coordinator: barbara.lepani@wildmountaincollective.com.au