Art a Labor of love for Cr Ann Martin

Artist Ann: Wollongong councillor Ann Martin at her Horizons exhibition which is running at Red Point Gallery in Port Kembla until July 20. Picture: Georgia Matts.
Artist Ann: Wollongong councillor Ann Martin at her Horizons exhibition which is running at Red Point Gallery in Port Kembla until July 20. Picture: Georgia Matts.

Wollongong councillor Ann Martin’s re-election chances in September may have suffered a setback recently but she is determined to keep trying.

Cr Martin was at Red Point Gallery in Port Kembla on Saturday where her Horizons art exhibition is running until July 20. She said she had done a number of group shows but this was her first solo show since the early 80’s.

She grew up in Berry before doing her studio based Masters degree in New Zealand where she held her first solo exhibitions in Auckland. “I went straight from high school to art school”.

Labor’s rank and file members picked Councillor David Brown as the party’s Lord Mayor candidate recently and Cr Martin only secured third spot on the Ward 3 ticket. But regardless of what happens in September she will keep pushing and promoting the arts.

She believes art and culture is important to any city and region and said she will keep running seriously as a Labor candidate after six years on council. “I am hoping to get the support of the Ward to get across the line. If I am not elected I will still be behind the scenes pushing and I will give it another go. For me a city is defined by the work of its artists, writers and theatre. And some of the films coming out of Wollongong now are really interesting. I think Wollongong has the capacity of being a major creative centre.”

“If I don’t get through at the next council election then I will be running again. I think we need people at the local government level who understand what we can do. And we have enormous capacity. I am very excited for Wollongong. I think we are so well placed. And that will also create jobs and work.”

Cr Martin’s art is made up of landscapes inspired by the Illawarra coastline. She uses oils, graphite and charcoal in much of her work after starting her art career training as a sculptor.

She describes herself as prolific but sometimes will go a month or two without producing much. But then she will turn around many new works quickly.

“When I work I really work. I do it because it is who I am. For me making art is about where I see the world and how I operate in it. I write poetry as well and do some performance poetry.”

As a councillor she has actively pushed for a cultural plan for the city as well as a live music taskforce and for work on the Town Hall.

“I have done that because a lot of my work has not only been about making art. It has been about advocating. And I have been involved in arts policy at a local, regional, state and national level. Particularly in the community cultural development area and the public art area,” she said.

Cr Martin held many roles in public art and managing public art projects in various parts of NSW early in her career.

She said that was also part of the reason she got into planning. She has a Master of Planning and presently works as a planner for the Department of Planning and the Environment but not on any Wollongong projects.

“I look after a number of councils in NSW. I am what you call a Statutory Planner. I work out of the Wollongong regional office,” she said.