The Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne, Victoria are at their most stunning at 6:30 A.M. The trees are just being lit up by morning light, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a few kangaroos in the thick undergrowth that blankets the mountain like a green, fuzzy blanket. The Ranges themselves are an artistic hub for local and interstate painters, writers and musicians, many of whom have moved there specifically for the atmosphere. Here, The Culture Trip features talented sculptor Jordynn Grace Oakley.
The small townships dotting the Ranges harbor artistic communities, most of which are quite well known among Australians, some even propelling their success overseas. There are many reasons why the creative flock to this little unassuming corner of Victoria, but the most notable is the scenery. Never without something to do, these people reside here and sell their artwork to tourists and passerby that, like the artists themselves, are drawn in by lush nature and the abundance of activities. From the famous Puffing Billy steam train to Emerald Lake – the Ranges hold a number of activities for young and old, and should definitely be on any visitor’s list of places to see in Victoria.
It is because of this that The Culture Trip is on its way to visit one of the notoriously friendly and always gorgeous local artists, Jordynn Oakley.
Jordynn is a highly talented and passionate sculptor and illustrator, drawing her strength from the forests and beautiful natural habitat that surrounds her. She is a living embodiment of the kind of artist that Australians are so proud of, one that has exceptional skills and uses them for the greater good.
Jordynn plans to use her art to open up others’ minds to the common conflict between aboriginals and migrated Australians. In fact, her pieces reflect this quite strongly and have been inspired by Australian history with the indigenous culture.
Perhaps it was the early morning, but perhaps most striking among Jordynn’s artworks is a leather sculpture portraying the back of a person covered with healing whip wounds. This particular sculpture is a note to the ‘stolen generation’ and “represents that although there has been an apology [from the government] to the stolen generation, the wounds are still there… although healing, the marks will always remain, forgiveness can occur, but forgetting such a horrendous part of our history is simply an impossible task.”
Her artwork is a passionate plea and one that the people of Australia are coming to grips with. The sculpture is truly captivating, and the leather has been manipulated in such a way that it almost looks like melted caramel. Leather sculptures are Jordynn’s favorite mediums of self-expression, and her three main artistic pieces that have been showcased at the Future Creative exhibition at Wintergarden, Geelong, are hand made from manipulated leather.
Her process includes using body moulds and warm water to shape the leather into the contours of a body. Then, the leather is set and painted in a way that reflects her message, leading to a truly unique result. Aside from her leatherwork, Jordynn dabbles in illustration and painting and is currently working on illustrating a children’s book while also being on a sub-committee to help represent the future artistic youth of Emerald. Jordynn’s own love of the hills translates into her continued effort in helping her community and the cultural wonderland that is the hills. Her role as an arts committee member will ensure that the artistic community of Emerald and its surroundings will continue to flourish in the years to come. Up until late 2017, the Emerald community will be holding more and more stalls for both locals and visitors, which is an excellent place to visit for the day. You can take a train or bus from Melbourne’s CBD, or rent a car if you’re older than 21, and expect the travel time to be a little under an hour and a half – depending on which area of the hills you are visiting.
Victoria is well known for its artistic resources, and Jordynn’s ability to draw on the original founders of this land is inspiring.
Aside from her love of Australian heritage, Jordynn gets a lot of her inspiration from the surrounding forests and wildlife sanctuaries. Places like Olinda Falls and William Ricketts Sanctuary are her destinations of choice in this popular tourist area. We take a few more photos and she talks about her future plans. Perhaps because of the nurturing atmosphere that these tranquil hills provide, Jordynn plans to use her artistic influences for the good of society, eventually planning to open an art therapy practice in Australia for children. Jordynn believes that art therapy and the culture surrounding art ‘create a sense of balance and connection within [people] and their emotions.’
During the drive back down the mountain, visitors are reluctant to leave, as the hills are an underrated gem of Victoria, and are notable as one of the top tourist destinations in Victoria. However, it is not just the delightfully unique cafés and scenery that will draw you in; it is also the artistic community. Many of the shops are filled with handmade artworks and sculptures from the locals and are open during both the on and off-season. For up-and-coming shows and more information on how to make the most out of your visit to the Dandenong Ranges, visit the websites below:
Jordynn’s artwork is available for purchase, either by visiting her personal Facebook page or by calling +61403708158.