Yardworks art exhibition,Fremantle now

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New work from Rachel Riggs is on show until September at Gypsy Tapas House, Fremantle, Western Australia upcycling everyday throw away materials into extraordinary art! Yardworks Artist Rachel Riggs Advertisements

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Western Australia’s Lost Jewels – Butterflies of Perth

ImageA visit to the W.A Museum in Perth reveals one of the lost beauties of the landscape which would of been commonly seen in large, glittering flocks in the 1800’s.The Western Jewel butterfly was once found only in Western Australia, mostly along the coastal plain from Perth to Carnarvon. Much of the original habitat of the Western Jewel has been sadly destroyed by urban & rural development over time, one of the few remaining Perth populations was lost with the clearing of bushland at Hepburn Heights in 1993.

ImageThe larvae of the Western Jewel fed on a number of plants including the pea flowered shrub Jacksonia stembergiana and the wattle Acaicia xanthina, but only if there was a nest of the ant Crematogaster perthensis at the base. The larvae sheltered in the ants nest during the day and emerged to feed at night, accompanied by the ants.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Hypochrysops_halyaetus_%28ento-csiro-au%29.jpg

This relationship was a mutualistic one : the butterfly larvae recieved shelter and possibly protection from predators, whilst the ants got a sugary liquid secreted by glands on the backs of the butterfly larvae.Most butterfly populations in Perth are now sparse, and mainly confined to fringing bushland.

Image

 WA Museum Glass Door detail

Towards a New Australian Theatre Part 2 Masterclass

I had a fascinating weekend if at times frustrating (only because I can only reference UK/European site specific work rather than Aussie productions!) working and getting to know a brilliant group of Perth artists who have experience with large scale, site and community specific productions. Nice simple aims of the workshop were –

to learn for our own practice, meet each other make a fictious show and pull together a database for collaborative ideas.

We all had to describe what we did in detail, for some of us, (including me), who are jack and jills of all trades this was a bit difficult to clarify, but excellent practice in defining skills. Joey asked what the most burning question we had was? Well mine was, how do you stage/ share dreams?Answer, stay with the image /intuition, dont let the concept take over.

Joey spoke of how the fascination of the artist, whether its with the site or artform, carries the performance/project.How we should make work for as diverse an audience as possible with universal messages, artists speak through many languages. This reminded me of the Reggio Emilia philosophy for young children, to be allowed to be expressive through their own visual & sensory languages ‘One hundred voices.

‘The phenomena of the artist in the world – art comes from responding to the world, the director trusts that somehow their responses connect with the audience’

Joey spoke of creating different artist teams with core design/directors, working with engineers to make a fascinating machine/company to focus on the real story with emotional, poetic images. The feeling/ action has to be clear, it is not logical but the work has to convey what you want it to say.

‘Image speaks louder than words – easy to come up with amazing creative images, harder to make them count’

As an example Joey showed his research of Butchers signs, using images of pigs, specific fonts etc to make the symbolic representation acceptable to society.

Joey went through his experience and methodology of making large scale site specific collaborative work. Often starting with approx 20 scenes, ideas on post it notes to develop the product, and creating a framework for yourself to work in.

Everyone went out on a field trip to different sites in central Perth, either abandoned waste grounds or park areas.I have always had a thing for the carpark squashed at the back of the PICA building and the Blue Room theatre. The building was once a school, and this area probably once a playground, lots of history and a really interesting enclosed space.Overlooked by the Art gallery of WA and the new urban garden.With Joey we discussed the spaces potential And followed the  research and devising method for Site and Community Specific Works.Taking the commonplace and giving room for a unique experience , the weekend was a unique experience to engage with the trials and errors, & extraordinary heights of making large scale site specific work.

Towards a New Australian Theatre Genre

DreamMasons-Hobart

 

A few months ago I was very excited that Joey Ruigrok van der Werven was coming to Perth, from the legendary Doegtroep Theatre, Holland, to give an inspirational lecture on creating image based performance events in Australia,

Doegtroupe reinvented the ordinary world with their street theatre, the name means theatre of rubbish! From Joeys time as an Engineer with Doegtroep, he believes artists step out of society and hold a mirror to reinterpret life. If you take away the arts people become very poor. Artists  need space to discover and explore as these iconic European companies had in the 1980’s.
Joey also ran a weekend masterclass on creating large scale spectacle and and inventing performance environments.

one of the unsung heroes of Australian contemporary performance’ Realtime

This was right up my street, as a visual theatre maker,I have always  wanted to scale up , from small scale theatre to gigantic with the dreams of making large scale sensory spectacles for families. So I was very happy to also be invited to the masterclass to work and share ideas with other WA artists, thanks to Performing Lines.

Joey believes the director is a facilitator of process, and that you can only make the large scale work if you can make the small scale, which is heartening to hear. Doegtrope obtained money from building foundations,as acertain % can be used for public art which does not always have to be a sculpture or fountain.

 

Towards A New Australian Theatre Lecture at The Bakery Photo: Sarah Rowbottam

 

for a full overview of the lecture please see Towards a new australian theatre genre’ lecture at

http://www.performinglineswa.org.au/site/wordpress/2011/04/20/joey_perth_talk/

DreamMasons-Hobart

 

Joey is now based in Australia and has developed his own methodology on creating large scale site specific and community work. His intention is to make image driven community theatre, using real life events, bringing theatre to the people in their environment. Theres no need for a theatre infrastructure here, using industrial, abandoned spaces and bringing new life. He discussed how the renegade artist theatre companies, such as La Fura (Spain), Royal de Luxe (France) and Doegtrope (Holland) have become iconic for their country, as with La fura’s giant puppet and spectacle for the Olympics in 1992.

To be continued

La fura dels baus puppet

La fura dels baus olympics open 1992

Fantastic Abandoned Sites in Perth

This is a great site below for lots of images of abandoned places in Perth, gonna go on a tour and have a good look….

http://www.6000times.com/2010/01/swanbourne-abandoned-mental-crazy.html

Thanks to Marisa Garreffa

Steamworks Arts Productions

Butterflies – world poems

Love is like a butterfly
in so many, many ways.
It brings a bit of sunshine
even on gloomy days.

It makes our souls feel lighter
just to know it’s there
And gives our spirits wings,
as if floating in the air.

It carries us to places
that we never knew before
And comes in many sizes,
shapes and hues galore.

Once we’ve seen it,
we wish to hold onto it so tight
But like a frail butterfly,
we must allow it free flight,

For if we should try
to cage it up
and hold it in a pen,
We’ll surely crush its wings,
and it’ll never fly again.

To keep that love glowing
in our hearts each day,
We must remember
always to give some of it away.

Every little bit we give
to someone else to share
Comes back tenfold,
and we’ve so much to spare.

Put your love
on gossamer wings,
and give it flight;
It will return to you,
and bring you much delight.
– Unknown

The butterfly counts
not months but moments,
and has time enough.
– Rabindranath Tagore

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

Li Po

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true

Pablo Neruda

To a Butterfly

Stay near me—do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find I thee,
Historian of my infancy !
Float near me; do not yet depart!
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring’st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father’s family!

Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:—with leaps and spring
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her, feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.

William Wordsworth

The Quod Project, Tania Ferrier

 

Dawn Rottnest

Dawn Rottnest

‘The island that forgot what it was

A few weeks ago I attended a talk on ‘The Quod Project’ by Tania Ferrier at the Heathcote Museum & Gallery, Perth, W.A. The artist also spoke of her life to date with her artworks and major influences.

Recreated Quod cell by Tania Ferrier

Recreated Quod cell by Tania Ferrier

Many people in W.A holiday on Rottnest Island, I have visited many times but until I saw this art installation, based on historical research, I hadnt realised the true nature of the dark history which lies behind the happy holiday scenarios. There is nothing about the true Indegenous history very much at Rottnest, there is nothing to celebrate in the way the Aboriginal people were treated in Colonial history. This invisibility is endemic in everyday life in Western Australia, as if  Aboriginal people are refugees in their own country.

Noel Nannup – Noongar Elder spoke in the Welcome to Country  from the heart about ‘the need to get away from the shame and look at it differently. Something happened over the water, which needs to be known and understood to bridge the gap between black and white australians and heal. Do Australians understand their real history? Know the real spirituality of this place Australia? Respect the sacredness of life, of our selves and the rights of all people”

Tanya Ferrier’s ‘The Quod project’ explores the notion that her holiday and childhood experiences were based on a lie,  exploring her own story which corresponds with the terrible injustice of the Aboriginal prisoners shipped out and incarcerated in prison on Rottnest from 1839 to the early 1930’s.

As a child, her family stayed at the Quod, part of the Rottnest Island hotel resort, as her mother had holidayed on the island as a young girl with her sisters. The Quod was promoted and still is, as especially suitable for families, allowing for 6 guests to sleep in a unit that was once five cells and housed up to 35 Aboriginal men with no window or sanitation. There was an average of 14 deaths per cell, each cell being 2m x 3m housing 7 men. 5 men were hung in the centre of The Quod, by a particularly brutal governor, Henry Vincent. He designed the Quod and settlement, built by Aboriginal labour, with prisoners interred from all across Western Australia.

‘Words cannot paint the picture without being offensive’ Rottnest Island History by EJ Watson 1922.

Under the floors were secreted fragile posessions – glass spearheads, spoon, message stick, left by the prisoners and confiscated by local government.

As a child on holiday, Tania didnt know the deeply political history of Rottnest and that she played upon the burial ground of approx. 400 men. The cemetery was only identified and sectioned off  in 1997. The island is called Wadjemup by Noongar people, and is not a holiday destination for  Aboriginal people, but a place of great sadness. Over 20 years of Aboriginal protest is acknowledged in the Quod project,over the failure of government authorities to recognise and respect this rare, well documented site of Aboriginal oppression.

This is a very personal journey by Tania, her story told with the artworks created, aswell as a carefully researched installation with the trust of Aboriginal collaborators including Cedric Jacobs and Noel Nannup . Photos of Tania’s mother at Rottnest are the only ones she has, as her mother Alice, committed suicide after her 6th birthday, Alice left a note saying she had gone to Rottnest. Tania was never told the truth about her mother and she was never spoken of again in her family.Through the eyes of a child, Tania thought her mother had disapeared forever at Rottnest.

In fact, part of the auto biographical work seen is a series of digital prints which included illustrations from ‘The Isle of Girls’ a childrens book by Eleanor Smith, published in 1953.

In a series of digital prints called “If these walls could speak”, Ferrier imagines  the prisoners peering back to the future , to a time and place they could not of believed possible. There are concealed cell doors in the walls of the Quod today, and she juxtaposes the peephole view with imaginary, contemporary views of what would be seen eg a girl putting on lipstick.

 Some people have strange dreams when they stay at the Quod.

‘The Quod project stages that original shock of recognition that can be too easily forgotten in the current political climate: “Oh my god I didnt know! In occluding the historical truth, we wound and damage the living. In the Quod Project, the visitor travels through a series of spaces in which the artist seeks to find a form adequate to the task of representing the tauma of what we now know about the history. We move from the postcard to the painterly,to the documentary photograph, staged and framed to the colonial witness, voiced and amplified into our common space, and finally, in the Quod cell, to make a simulacra of the real – albeit a real that makes visible what the island cannot show: a hole in the holiday space of Rottnest”‘ Josephine Wilson

Main Reference – ‘Far from Home. Aboriginal prisoners of Rottnest island, 1838 -1931’ by Dr. Neville Green and S. Noon .

For lots more information see –

http://wadjemup.blogspot.com