We are up very high in Falls Creek and therefore the air is thin.
Professional athletes and Olympians all come here to undergo high altitude training and there are facilities to support their training. When I first arrived I was finding myself out of breath during the shortest of walks, which was a bit embarrassing when I was walking with new acquaintances and was completely out of breath in a minute or two.
I have adapted though, undertaking my own high altitude training by carrying large projectors and generators and other equipment to multiple sites each night.
Yesterday I had to be “off the mountain” a phrase I have heard used by locals. I like that phrase a lot. “I’ll be off the mountain tomorrow”. Not necessarily saying where they will be, but just off the mountain.
I had to be off the mountain for the day as I had agreed to talk on a panel in Bathurst (yes a 7 hour drive).
The panel was at the Launch of the Currency House Platform Paper Restless Giant: Changing Cultural Values in Regional Australia written by Lindy Hume who is the current Artistic Director of Queensland Opera and before that the Artistic Director of Sydney Festival.
Lindy had interview me for the paper and I had been invited to sit on a panel in response to Lindy giving an overview in which she argues for the value of regionally based arts practice and its potential to reshape Australia’s cultural identify.
I knew it was a crazy decision to try to fit it such a long drive and then get straight back to Falls Creek, but I guess it highlights one of the main disadvantages of having a regionally based arts practice, which is the distance needed to travel to participate in current conversations about the development of the arts in Australia.
So now that I am back in Falls Creek, I’m glad I did the crazy drive. The hours on the road up to Bathurst allowed me to reflect on what I was doing here in Falls Creek and the hours driving back allowed me to reflect on much bigger questions about my arts practice and the ongoing discussion about regional arts practice in general and how those conversation highlight both the compartmentalising that can happen of an artist based in regional Australia but also how artists in regional Australia can compartmentalise themselves.
So that was my thinking yesterday.
Today, I had a great meeting and lunch with Lindy Allen and Mary Rosengren. We met Lindy years ago when she commissioned us to make work for the Canberra Centenary and she has given so much to us during the time we have know her. Also at lunch was another artist in residency here Mary Rosengren, who I have just met and who in the past has done work with the CSIRO insect specimen collection (http://rosengren2011.anat.org.au/) and who is now actively researching the ecology of the Falls Creek environment. We discussed possibilities for future collaborations, the main ecological concerns of the region and how we can potentially, through the Bogong Moth, open up stories about interconnectedness between place, species, and more.
We plan to go on a walk together tomorrow looking at the local ecology and allowing conversations about future work to be uncovered.
We also put the final touches on the plans to share my residency during two public events at the end of the week. One out on a site showing examples of landscape collaborations and a second event that is inside, sharing the outcomes of my time here in this first creative development period.
In preparation for that public sharing and because an issue with my car meant I couldn’t safely work out on site tonight, I ended up spending the night designing a touch screen system that would allow people to touch different areas on the screen and trigger videos and sounds that I have made during my time here so I can share how I have artistically responded to my encounters with place.
My other reason for staying indoors tonight and designing this interactive system is because my one day off the mountain seems to have had a disastrous effect and undone all my beneficial arts based high altitude training. Even after just one day away I am back to being out of breath again on short walks.
I’ll re-tackle that issue tomorrow.