Drawing to spellbinding guitar at The Arts Factory

Tucked away just outside Byron Bay Australia, on the edges of a paper bark forest lies a magical hostel called The Arts Factory. If you stay close to the pool and hang out on the balconies, you perhaps won’t tune in to the atmosphere. But venture into the yard, and especially onto the decking by the lake and you might find something special there.

Yesterday I looked out to see a group of people, totally chilled, listening to an English guy called Richard play the most touching guitar music, singing soft folk songs – some his own, some covers. Spellbound, his audience watched in a silent circle. Occasionally others asked to play and sing and so the magic of creativity and companionship spun a silken thread around the group. More brought over their guitars. Harmonies were sung. Empty cans were used as drums and the beautiful sound crescendoed. Among that group was Ryan Dingle. This guy funds his studies and life through busking. Next year he plans to busk all over Europe, but I think he might be famous before that. I can’t find a clip of his heart-rending singing on Youtube, but I’ve found this: Clouds of Hope

So while I was lifted on a dream of live music, I drew pen and ink pictures. I used to be so scared of doing the wrong thing when drawing, of the end result being ugly or not up to my dictating standard. This year I’ve told myself it’s not the end result that counts, it’s the feeling and action of drawing, of creating. Every drawing takes me closer to being a better drafts-gal. And every drawing gives me a sense of wellbeing I don’t get from anything else. Follow your passion!

The Arts Factory is a hostel spread over five acres. As well as accommodation it includes a cinema with cow-print sofas, the Buddha Bar and restaurant, a Balinese day spa and a recording studio. As well as the usual dorm rooms ($34 a night), it has stand-alone cabins on islands, teepees and a massive campsite. That’s where the action really happens I suspect, but there’s so much live music and night life in town I haven’t even ventured over there yet. And the Arts puts on a free shuttle bus so it’s easy peasy to get into town. Or you can walk it in ten mins.

So here are some photos of magical yesterday, and my drawings.

Ryan in the foreground, Richard beyond him playing guitar, hostel in the background, lake behind me

The audience kept shifting, new faces transfixed. When I took these photos it was mostly a bunch of fit guys sitting around. Tough life.

Should I put more birdies on the tree? If you look through the hostel on the right hand side you can just see the free mini bus that takes you into town. During the night from 10pm - 4am it goes every 10 minutes so girls don't have to walk back in the dark.

The view I just drew. Don't know when the bike appeared there though.

The lake behind the decking.

The view I drew.

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