Media Release

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Media release

From the Minister for the Arts

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Saturday, 29 May, 2010

NEW BUSHFIRE ARTS PROJECT TO ILLUMINATE REGIONAL COMMUNITIES

Eleven Victorian communities in bushfire-prone areas will come together and create artworks as part of a new statewide arts project – Illuminated by Fire.

Arts Minister Peter Batchelor visited Flowerdale today for the launch of the two-year project, which received a $150,000 grant through the Brumby Labor Government’s Community Partnerships program.

“During the past year we have seen a number of examples of how communities have engaged with the arts as part of the bushfire recovery process,” Mr Batchelor said.

“The arts bring people together, build community spirit and support the healing process.

Illuminated by fire will take this further, empowering communities to respond creatively together to the phenomenon of bushfires.”

Mr Batchelor said Illuminated by Fire, which was initiated by Regional Arts Victoria and will be delivered in partnership with the Neighbourhood House and Learning Centre network, would involve a diverse array of artists from across the state.

“The artists will take their local community through a series of workshops to create a local artwork, installation, performance or exhibition focusing on the themes of fire and resilience,” he said.

“From dance to sculpture, multi-media works to community choir performances, these projects will share and interpret diverse stories, images and artefacts.”

Mr Batchelor also announced the Government would provide $35,000 to extend the Murrindindi Shire’s Arts Recovery Project Officer role.

“Following the Black Saturday bushfires, we announced an initial $35,000 to establish the Arts Recovery Project Officer role in the region. Over the past year, the Project Officer has facilitated a range of arts projects that have strengthened the local community and helped them to make sense of the Black Saturday tragedy,” he said.

“The Arts Recovery Project Officer has played a key role in the local community and we are proud to be able to support the extension of the position for another 12 months. This will allow her to become involved the Illuminated by Fire projects that will be undertaken throughout the region in Flowerdale, St Andrews and Kinglake.”

The Illuminated by Fire projects will be on display in local communities before culminating in a multi-media, site-specific installation at Federation Square in Melbourne in late 2011.

(Further details of the individual projects are attached)

ILLUMINATED BY FIRE PROJECTS

Portland: Artist Carmel Wallace will work with the community to build a metal/wood sculpture in the form of a ship’s hull (with reference to the emigrant ship The New Zealander, which was burnt in Portland Harbour in 1853). This will be filled with large sculptures of endangered orchids which depend on fire for survival. The sculpture will be towed to the site of the wreck of The New Zealander – a community performance will take place whilst it burns.

Kyneton: Artist Kathryn Portelli will work with the community to design and create personalised funerary urns, which will be exhibited alongside vision board collages.

Creswick: Artists Ken Evans (founder of Handspan Theatre) and Rebecca Russell will work with the community to create an outdoor theatre piece featuring smoke, fire and shadows. The performance will explore the adaptive behaviours of plants, animals and humans in relation to fire.

Swan Hill: Indigenous dancer Jacob Boehme will work with Elder Uncle Bruce Baxter and the local community on a project incorporating dance, storytelling and ceremony to explore stories of Indigenous fire practices towards a public site-specific performance outcome. Jacob will lead participants through ‘boot camps’, practising traditional dance and developing contemporary dance. Fire artist Margie Mckay will lead workshops in the use of fire in performance and the creation of images.

St Andrews and Kinglake: Artist Leanne Mooney will work with the community to create Memory Box, which will honour precious objects rescued from the fires, the stories behind them, and the renewal that follows.

Ballarat: Under the direction of Tracey Bourne, a Wathaurong storyteller will lead the audience to the edge of Lake Wendouree at dusk. An Indigenous ‘Fire Choir’ will sing as the fire from January 2009 is re-ignited on the lake. We are reminded of our ancient and recent past as we imagine the future of this place.

Briagolong: Maxine Salvatore will work with the community in East Gippsland, including members of the local Country Fire Authority, to create an installation using light, text and video on an ancient cliff face at McKinnon’s Point on the Freestone Creek.

Lakes Entrance: Renowned installation artist Catherine Larkins will work with the Gunai/Kurnai and broader Lakes Entrance community to create a relocatable fire-place made out of briquettes. Briquettes are moulded blocks of compacted, combustible matter from ancient forests. A couch, TV, dog and pseudo electric log fire will complement the chimney – ancient resources supporting our modern needs.

Dunkeld: Artist Trevor Flinn will work with the community in the South-West to create a two channel video work that showcases the art of woodcutting/splitting and the use of fire by local cooks to create a favourite dish using many different methods.

Maldon: Photographer Deanne Neville will create portraits of local fire fighters that will be printed on the fireman orange uniform cloth with fluoro strips applied in line to create a collage style. The giant banners will be displayed hanging from fire trucks and illuminated by their flashing lights.

Flowerdale: The Flowerdale community has adopted as its symbol of its renewal, the image of a denuded tree with a few small green leaves returning. Eighty local residents have now had this tattooed on their bodies. Artist Sharon Collins will replicate a large version of this tree which will act as a backdrop for a multi-media projection that explores the many stages of fire and recovery.

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