Camp Creative Vice President – Gillian Helfgott

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Patron and Camp Creative’s Vice President, Gillian Helfgott shares what the festival means to her & her husband David.





Tell us about your involvement with Camp Creative.

I’m the Vice President, but more importantly, my husband David and I are patrons of Camp Creative … we’re the figure heads of the camp. Because David is a famous concert pianist and is so active in the musical world, it’s nice to be associated with the camp in this way. David, of course, performs at the celebrity concert. He’s one of the stars of that, and he loves sharing his music with all the campers. We have been involved with Camp Creative for 21 years now.

We hear that Bryce Courtenay is also a festival patron …

Yes, he is. He comes about every second year to take a class – but his health hasn’t been so good of late, so I think it’s 2 years since he’s been. He was a great friend of Bill Lockley, who was the founder of the camp.

Bill was the one with the original ideas and dedication … he did more to promote the arts around Bellingen than anyone else ever has.

So why is Camp Creative so important for you to be involved with?

I think the more we can do to help people get in touch with their creativity, the better. Usually creativity requires activity, and people who are active are more fulfilled in their own lives.

You find someone like Chris Stewart, for example. She’s now a leading ceramic/glass tutor and practitioner with us.

She came to Camp Creative as a student, and now she’s lecturing overseas and has books published in America. Camp Creative enabled her to get the confidence to move forward. She comes and lectures at the Camp, and her class fills up within about 5 minutes.

The news is that this year’s camp has record numbers …

It has. Bellingen High School will be absolutely filled to its capacity, and we’re also using the primary school for Bollywood and some of the writing courses, because it’s just bursting at the seams at the high school. Without the Principal of Bellingen High School, Rob Stockton, and his incredible enthusiasm, his role on the committee, the work that he puts in through the event, we couldn’t really run the camp.

What are the major things you’re looking forward to from this year’s Camp Creative?

The Aboriginal courses! Last year we had paper making, but this year we’re having The Dreaming. We’re very much on Aboriginal land here, and I’m particularly thrilled about this course. Also, Scott Murray is going to speak about the transition from white film makers to now hearing the indigenous voice of the Aboriginal people themselves in films.

So with The Dreaming and sharing some of the very interesting original films coming from the indigenous population, I think that will be a very interesting and heartwarming time.

Obviously the courses fill up pretty quickly each year, so is there room for expansion in the coming years?

The problem is if you get bigger, then you can’t fit everyone into the multi-purpose hall at Bellingen High School for the grand finale. We don’t ever want to just aim for size; we want quality courses and a sense of sharing.

Once you outgrow the hall, then you can’t have that same sharing – so I think we’re pretty much to capacity now. Of course, it is wonderfully good for the town … it generates a lot of business and brings a lovely atmosphere.

So the advice is for people to get in really early and book their places at the camp?

Yes. Just go on to the website and become a member, or get on the mailing list. Courses come out in late June/early July, and some courses do fill up in a couple of days. But you can get on a mailing list and see all the courses that are available on the website.

We still have places in some courses for 2012, so if people ring Robbie Spence (the Co-ordinator) and have a chat to her about last minute places, they might be able to fit in to something.

Thank you Gillian.

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