I tend to live my life a little haphazardly. Project to project, I make my route up as I go; dots on a page, or bends in the river. I’m not into planning every minute detail of my life, listing goals and scheduling a time for them to be achieved. I often book flights a few days before I take off, which is expensive, but knowing what I’m doing at 8.50 on Saturday morning six months in advance scares the hell out of me. I work hard and live large in the day that I am in, without regard for the hangover the next morning or the world that I didn’t get to see in that day. I will work through that hangover, I will see some more of the world tomorrow. This is a lifestyle that is not ideal for those in our society who have stable jobs that require a regular routine.
But then, I’m an artist…
Three weeks ago The Shore / The Boat / The Stream / The Bridge was a show I wanted to see and a launch party I wanted to go to. Now I’m two days away from launching myself head first into the project, taking on a performative and an administrative role. The show is being born as I type. A crew of inquisitive artistic folk are munching on questions and digesting possibilities. The show has, as it’s priority, one of my favourite things in the world: a curiosity for the world we live in. It asks us to reevaluate our place, here in Melbourne, our home or adopted city: how do we live here? Do we build bridges, do we cruise playfully downstream, do we stay on the shore? What compels us to cross, what keeps us firmly on one side? And, what does the person sitting next to you in the boat (the tram, the train, the office cubicle, the café table) think about all this? If my view is only my own, what can I gain from listening to my fellow passenger along the way?
theSBSB is drifting gently along at the moment in Bundanon, charting its path as it goes and exploring all possibilities before steering it back home to Melbourne. I can’t wait to jump on board!
I’ve been doing a lot of research over summer. It’s nerd work, but time consuming enough that it won’t be possible later on - I feel like it’s all laying a good ground work for our upcoming creative developments too.
Late last year LC and I went on the Walkin’ Birrarung walking tour run by the Koorie Heritage Trust. It starts at Enterprise Wharf (now next to the Melbourne Aquarium) and takes you along both banks up to nearly the Southgate Pedestrian Bridge. It was one of those occasions as that I came up short - again and again - unable to answer some of the elementary facts about the place where I grew up. The tour gave another overlay (probably actually an underlay) to places that I so often see and walk on. Tullamarine/Tullamareena’s story shocked me the most. A terrific tour - a must do.
One INCREDIBLE book that gives more depth and breadth to the indigenous and colonists meeting is The Place For A Village, by Gary Presland.
Coming from a natural history perspective Presland outlines the regions development over time, from geological events, evolution of animals and plant life, to human usage (both indigenous and colonial) and illustrates the reasons why the city of Melbourne we see has developed the way it has.
Particularly relevant chapters for us include in depth writing on the stream systems of the Maribyrnong and Yarra and their tributaries. Basically, the Yarra as we know it today has been modified and “improved”, to use the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works lingo, from Dight’s Falls in Collingwood all the way to the bay. Occasional streams, such as the William’s Creek or “Townend River” flowed from where Melbourne University now sits, down Bouverie St, Elizabeth St and into the Yarra.
[See artwork League of Resonance, Jess Olivieri, Sarah Rodigari, Jason Mailing]
Contemporary freeways follow the valleys and stream paths of Yarra tributaries Gardiners and Koonung Creeks and Maribyrnong tributary Moonie Ponds Creek.
But, most important of all to the colonisation of the area was the rock ledge that ran from about Queen St across the Yarra, which incidentally accidentally gave name to the Yarra as we now know it. The falls separated fresh water from upstream, from the salt water downstream, making the ideal site for the new colony. In several ways, the site of beginnings and ends.
[See artwork Ecophene by Karen Abernethy]
Next on the research list is Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice and Theory edited by Michal Kobialka (thanks to Jana Perkovic), reading up on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (and perhaps attending a community consultation), Judith Brett’s Quarterly Essay Fair Share: County and City in Australia and even a bit of creative development to make some of these hieroglyphs come alive…