I AM PORT FAIRY - Oriel Glennen

Oriel Glennen is a creative soul whose family history and love of the local landscape feeds directly into her art. She is a musician, composer, jeweller and visual artist with a unique ancestral story of Norwegian sailors and Cornish farmers, whose journeys across the southern seas initiated new life in the south west of Victoria.

Oriel is deeply connected to Port Fairy, on many levels. There is her rich family history, her profound respect for the environment and her role as performer that brings her in touch with audiences from near and far. But it’s also Oriel’s work with elderly residents, in which she feels very privileged to keep learning about and appreciating ever more about this special place, her home. 

Oriel Glennen 3

Celebrate Community

“There are so many festivals here, more and more every year! It says a lot about how people love to be in Port Fairy. I think people feel very welcomed here.”

Singer-songwriter Oriel Glennen is very familiar with the movement, colour and vibes of the local festival scenes. After growing up in Warrnambool and spending most of her childhood in Port Fairy, she married and moved here more than 30 years ago.  She has spent her lifetime learning, growing, celebrating and performing among the artists and creatives who converge here throughout the year’s calendar of events.

“Of course, there is the Folk Festival which I’ve been lucky enough to perform at a number of times, and I’ve been volunteering there for about 15 years. There is the Winter Weekends for arts, food and culture. Ex Libris is perfect for writers and readers and lovers of language. Fine and classical music fills the town in October for the Spring Music Festival. And now we have the Jazz Music Festival too, every February.”

“One of my favourites, and one that I have strong family ties to and am always involved in, in some way, is the Moynana Festival, which is a true gathering of community,” she says. “I have so many memories of family and friends making all sorts of fun floats for the New Year’s Eve parade, rolling and reveling around the streets. And there are so many free events for children, it makes it very easy for families of all ages to enjoy their summer.”

So how does a small town have such a big line-up of events? Oriel thinks it’s a combination of people and place. “Our town is a such beautiful stage, with its ocean and island backdrop. And then it’s the people that make it all happen. There’s a lot of hard work to ensure events come together, but I guess we feel there’s a lot to celebrate in this part of the world.”

Find out more about these and other festivals in Port Fairy.

I belong

Port Fairy artist Oriel Glennen’s latest collection of precious pendants and rings is called Sea Foam. This stunning series of magical, wearable art combines pieces of shell, timber and washed-up ocean treasures that Oriel finds while walking along the coast. Once collected, Oriel encapsulates them in intricate, delicate crochet nets or cases, reminiscent of bubbling, criss-cross patterns formed by the white foam-tipped waves on local beaches.

“I’m always looking down, scouring the sand for different shapes and colours, “ Oriel admits of her meditative meanderings. “Occasionally, I’ll look up, out to sea, but mostly my eyes are searching through the dunes and seaweed for tiny remnants of sea life.”

Among the driftwood and shells, Oriel finds peace and pleasure on her daily walks to the water’s edge. She describes Port Fairy’s beaches as ever changing and inspiring in their sometimes-still, sometimes-wild weather conditions.

“You are transported out there by the sea. There is such a calmness, even when the waves are crashing and the wind is blowing. It is so pure. So pristine.”

Follow the Port Fairy Art Map to see how Port Fairy’s creative souls are stimulated by the power of the local landscape. 

Oriel Glennen 2