by Andrea Davy
IT'S gone from a daydream to a reality.
This January, Outback Creative will go live with its online brokerage platform, making it a one-stop shop for the sale of rural Australian art to a large national and international market.
When the founder of the initiative, Ranald McMaster, last caught up with the Rural Weekly he was juggling full-time work as a farmhand while co-ordinating the forum's newly released website and Facebook page.
Since then, he has thrown in the day job, found a company partner and secured an investor. Outback Creative will publish its first book before Christmas and the launch of its online-selling platform by January 1 is well under way.
He is watching his dreams for Outback Creative come to fruition, but Ranald admitted much of the hard work was still ahead of him.
"I knew this wasn't going to be easy. There have been a lot of challenges, but I just bit the bullet and decided to go after it,” he said.
"By next year we should be firing with all cylinders and growing rapidly and, hopefully, be trading a lot of art.”
This year, Ranald, along with company partner Charles Devine, who is also a Goondiwindi lad, secured an investor that helped the business develop quickly.
"The main change happening is we are transitioning from a business that was just doing purely exposure to a company now doing brokerage and publication,” he said.
"So we are doing online brokerage... it's online sales of premium rural and indigenous arts; as a loose term we call it outback art, so it covers rural, nature, landscape, wildlife and indigenous art.”
The artwork encompasses everything from poetry about years gone by and paintings of native birds to striking photos shot out of a helicopters above the Kimberley in Western Australia.
Most of the pieces carry a soft undertone of country Australia, and there are many images championing agriculture and rural families.
"We want to get as much scope as possible, especially with our photography. We want to cover the whole of Australia,” he said.
While all artists are encouraged to get in touch with Outback Creative to suggest their work, Ranald explained they were highly selective about choosing which artists to back.
"It's very much an invite-only exclusive opportunity,” he said.
"We run a community group on Facebook, which is for everyone.
"We are all about encouraging everyone, but we want to have a gold standard of art for people to aspire to and to purchase.”
He said supporting indigenous artists was deeply important to Outback Creative.
"We have a lease arrangement with Aboriginal Artlandish as a strategic alliance to try and bolster up the numbers,” he said.
"Indigenous art covers a lot of different sub-genres, including Aboriginal artefacts like didgeridoos.
"We want a strong representation of indigenous artists on board, that's a market we want to take by storm.”
Outback Creative's book, which will be published at the end of the year, will be on a print run of about 2,500 copies.
Ranald said the venture was to test the water to see what demand was like for a product of that kind.
The book will be full of the best rural images, accompanied by poetry from Mick Martin.
Mick is heavily involved with Outback Creative and is in charge of co-ordinating content for its social-media platforms.
Now, all day every day, Ranald is working with art.
This has been his dream from the beginning, but he admitted pursuing it was a leap of faith.
Forfeiting a wage was only made easier by the support of his family.
"I felt like this was my chance and I couldn't let it slip,” he said.
"It was time for me to do something that made my heart sing.
"Securing our investor gave us some breathing room... but further government support may be needed.”
WE MAY find pictures taken that remind of things we've had
and art that makes us happy and a few that makes us sad.
The spot down by the river where old Granddad used to sit
or bridles on the railing where young horses learned the bit.
Collages, stark and subtle, watercolours soft and sweet.
Those time-exposure pictures of the growing fields of wheat.
Hot sunsets' ruby colours on the skies of smoky red.
Poor calves of starving heifers where they lay, so sad, near dead.
The artist, like the poet, has no place to pick and choose,
the lens, the brush, so mirrored, like the writer finds their muse.
This outback is creative, more than anyone can claim
but here the brush and camera put her firmly in the frame.
We feel the truth of artists 'neath these Aussie candid skies
and share the many wonders through the skilful artist's eyes.
Poem by Mick Martin
For more information
Visit https://outbackcreative.net/ for more information or search Outback Creative on Facebook.