A small tent full of hay and warmth made a welcome reprieve from the gloomy drizzle that sprinkled the first day of Agfest on Thursday.
Bruny Island artist Gretja Van Randen welcomed damp festival goers into the Rural Alive and Well tent with a smile, offering a dry place to sit, gentle conversation and the chance to contribute to a collaborative art project that has been popping up all over Tasmania.
In an effort to raise awareness for mental health in rural communities, Van Randen has been knitting and weaving giant sculptures of farmers out of blue baling twine.
"My sister in law came over from Holland and... started knitting with [the twine]," she said.
"That really gave me the idea to start. I thought, 'oh, I can do that, I can knit a big fella'."
Each blue farmer is made of a recycled steel "skeleton" covered in the blue twine, which is then erected in a field or paddock.
Agfest attendees were encouraged to take up a chair, try their hand at knitting or weaving on a homemade loom and hopefully produce a piece of "material" to help clothe a farmer bound for Oaklands.
Van Randen said her partner comes from a family that has struggled with suicide and depression for four generations, and the original blue farmer standing on their property at Bruny Island was a tribute to the family they had lost.
"I thought, 'hmmm, I could knit a farmer'... and he can stand there with his hand over his eyes and serve as a reminder for us all to look out for each other," she said.
"That's where it started, then people wanted to help."