Map 3/Story 3/Title 3 'Walking Country'

Walking Country was a 200 square metre temporary installation created for the 'Memory Bank Exhibition' held in the Geelong Wool Museum for the City of Greater Geelong, 'Connecting Identities Project'.  Part of the 'Generations Project a nation wide project trying to establish ways where the Arts can play a larger part in Council processes and policy.  

 

The process was started in 2007 when Meme McDonald (artistic director) asked Donna Jackson, Malcolm Mckinnon and myself to be principal artists and come up with a concept for the City of Greater Geelong to create an 'art inspired event' that could be taken on and utilized by City of Greater Geelong and its many Departments.

 

After many concept meeting and months of deliberation it was decided that the event 'Connecting Identities' would be a three pronged festival starting with an    exhibition from 24th July through to the 7th September 2008 with two larger events taking place in May and September 2009.  

Concept Drawings

The Concept

"Connecting Identities" as an arts project is aimed at expressing those things that make us who we are that can't always be seen or quantified, but if they go missing leave a sense of emptiness in us as individuals and as communities. 'Connecting Identities' will take place over 2008 and 2009.  At the first meeting of the projects Advisory Group made up of managers from departments of Council, a strategic planner asked the important question, 'when everything is changing, where is memory held?'   Memory Bank is  a collection of personal stories, housed on-line that is one response to this question.  This story collection will continue to grow, during the life of this exhibition, with the hope of becoming a valued resource for creating futures that respect the uniqueness of Geelong.

 

My part in this project as well as being on the concept team was to create a large scale temporary installation that would be on display for the length of the exhibition.  The installation was a 200 square metre stylized topographical map of what is now Geelong and surrounding country.  The waterways, geography and geology are used as symbols of what I perceive Geelong to be. 

 

The materials used within the installation describe and depict the local geology and how Geelong and districts have been formed over time, e.g., The basalt used in the installation directly relates to the basalt flow and outcrops that form the Western Basalt Plains (the third largest basalt plain in the world and formed what was the largest grass lands in Australia).

Etching of Local Waterway created in Timber, Basalt used in Installation in various forms

 

The different sand scrapes form the different sediment stone and geology's that have created the coastline and the other stone types were used to create the contours and lay of the land, that also form Geelong and district.

The different sand scrapes form the different sediment stone and geology's that have created the coastline and the other stone types were used to create the contours and lay of the land, that also form Geelong and district.

 

Throughout the installations large timber pieces were used depicting different iconic features that also represent Geelong.

 

  • Gingko Leaf - is placed in the installation where the Geelong Botanic Gardens are found.  The Gingko tree is one of the worlds oldest living fossils.  Species dating back over two hundred thousand years.  Although now no longer found native to Australia fossilized Gingkos have been found in and around Geelong meaning they were once indigenous to Australia and this part of the continent.  The Gingko is also one of Geelong Botanic Gardens signature trees, having one of the best living specimens in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

  • Surf board-this icon is located at Barwon Heads (where saltwater mingles with fresh water).  It also represents the coastline and the surf industry.

 

  • Wedge Tail Eagle feather — represents fauna and bird life.  The wedge tail Eagle has also been a powerful symbol and has represented the Kulin Nations for thousands of years.  Bunjil (the creator spirit) for the Kulin Nations took on the form of the Wedge Tail Eagle and it was also one of two skin groups that lived in the area the second being the Crow (Waa).

 

  • Boomerang - representing the Wathaurong (the traditional custodians of Geelong).

 

  • Also sitting within the installation are four water vessels.  Three of the four vessels featured have been created through a process of consultation and collaboration between communities and artists Julie Shaw, Victoria Edgar and Mark Trinham.  Each vessel/artwork represents those things valued within the specific locations where they were created.

The Reason

The whole idea of the installation is to show the Geelong district and waterways and also to show people the journey they will have to travel on the next chapter of the event/festival.  That is to traverse the Geelong Countryside form the mouth of the Barwon River to the top of the You Yangs over a 24 hour period.  The events working title is M2M (mouth to mountain) a journey from the mouth of the Barwon River to the peak of the You Yangs will take place in May 2009.

 

Once the icons were carved out of timber it was a matter of sourcing the stone.  The main stone used was basalt (depicting the Western Basalt Plains).  After visiting several quarries I located 7 very large boulders that had to be sawn (keeping a natural face) so when placed on the flat floor still read as part of the landscape read from an over head view.

Once they were found and sawn it was a matter of finding basalt with natural flat faces that could be used in a crazy paving pattern.

 

Unfortunately basalt varies a lot in shape and was proving to be very difficult to find (flat natural face rocks).  A very small outcrop in one quarry near Drysdale had just come across some stone that had a high shail content (which meant it could be split like slate) but was still basalt .  So I organized 10 tonne of stone and went about the task of sorting the good rock from the bad rock and cleaning each rock down, so to maximize the stones natural colour.

 

Whether it be walked, ran, paddled, swam, driven, travelled by pram, skateboard or horse the journey is going to pass through some of Geelongs better known, as well as more hidden gems, giving people from all over Geelong and district and beyond a chance to learn a little more about the place they live and reside, hopefully connecting them a little more to the place/home and in doing so give them an opportunity to do it with other members of Geelongs broader and diverse communities hence 'Connecting Identities'  .

Along the journey there will be numerous activities along the way from arts orientated events e.g.. Ephemeral works, new permanent works, music performances all hopefully celebrating the connection to place and each other.

 

Although still very much in concept phase, City of Greater Geelong, Mimi McDonald (artistic director), many others including myself are well along the way  of realizing this (hopefully) Biannual event.

 

The Bump In & Bump Out

In creating  the temporary installation for this first event, it needed to be broken into two phases  (off site production phase and on site production/installation phase.

 

The first phase after concept and design was to gather all the most suitable materials and make sure I had enough to fit into the large indoor space.  Knowing the installation was going to be made primarily out of stone, wood and sand it was a matter of making sure the work was going to be well balanced and the individual pieces (timber) and the design (patterns of different stone)  was going to best represent Geelong and districts. Its Geology and geography, it  also had to flow and read as a well balanced work.

 

The lead in time to create the wok was approximately a month, so creating the timber works was going to be most important in the given time.

 

The timber icons were created out of river red gum and sugar gum.  They varied in size but were all approximately 3.5 to 4 metres in length and approximately 600 mm to 800 mm wide, large enough not to be swallowed up in the  space (as mentioned earlier to cover the floor space the installation was going to need to be approximately 210sqm, (12m width x 18m length).

Timber icons made from River Red Gum and Sugar Gum
Basalt stone boulder and Basalt with High Shail content

 

Once the icons were carved out of timber it was a matter of sourcing the stone.  The main stone used was basalt (depicting the Western Basalt Plains).  After visiting several quarries I located 7 very large boulders that had to be sawn (keeping a natural face) so when placed on the flat floor still read as part of the landscape read from an over head view.

Once they were found and sawn it was a matter of finding basalt with natural flat faces that could be used in a crazy paving pattern.

 

Unfortunately basalt varies a lot in shape and was proving to be very difficult to find (flat natural face rocks).  A very small outcrop in one quarry near Drysdale had just come across some stone that had a high shail content (which meant it could be split like slate) but was still basalt .  So I organized 10 tonne of stone and went about the task of sorting the good rock from the bad rock and cleaning each rock down, so to maximize the stones natural colour.

In post production meetings with the events team (City of Greater Geelong, artistic director Meme McDonald and principal artists Malcolm McKinnon, Donna Jackson and myself) it was concluded by City of Greater Geelong (being the client) that the first phase of the event was a great success and with a great deal of excitement and anticipation about phase two and phase three (as stated early), being well on the way.

 

The next big hurdle was organizing the bump in and installation.

 

The installation would be created in what is usually a gallery space with gallery regulation both in physical nature but also all the regulations and obligations of working in an indoor council space (both high in OH + S  and insurance).

 

Laying tonnes of raw material straight onto carpeted floors was always going to be a problem not just in regard to the bump in, but also in bumping all the material out.  So I decided the whole floor space was going to need to be layed out with builders plastic and three ply. 

 

Once engineering and weight bearing specs for the floor space were ticked off.  The plastic and three ply layed (to protect the floor) I drew the design onto the floor and started bumping in the tonnes of stone, sand and timber.

Bumping in of Stone, Sand and Timber

The next big hurdle was the bump in time frame and access points to the gallery.  There was very little storage space and everything had to be wheel barrowed in.  I was given 6 days to bump in the installation and could only work in Gallery opening times (9am to 5pm) so I decided to get two friends to assist me with the labour and lifting component.

 

After 6 days, 8 tonnes of basalt, 3 tonnes of brickies sand, packed and washed, 2 tonnes of miscellaneous rock, pebbles, shell grit and 1 tonne of timber had been bumped in, placed, cleaned up and sorted.  Created was one temporary  large scale indoor installation.

 

After completing the 200sqm ground installation the opening took place without a hitch and it was said that over 6 weeks over 2000 people passed through the installations whilst it was in the gallery space.

 

Bump out was another quick turn around with it taking 4 days.  Most of the material either crane trucked or trailered back to Jan Juc.(studio space) 

 

In post production meetings with the events team (City of Greater Geelong, artistic director Meme McDonald and principal artists Malcolm McKinnon, Donna Jackson and myself) it was concluded by City of Greater Geelong (being the client) that the first phase of the event was a great success and with a great deal of excitement and anticipation about phase two and phase three (as stated early), being well on the way.

Analysis & Conclusion

The reason I had a closer look at these three installations and the reason these three specific installations were picked were because all three were created whilst doing this course over the past two years.  All three were relevant to the topic of my masters paper and presentation.  Also all three installations were  from my perspective a little out of the norm in regard to how public installations are initiated.

 

Generally most of the works you've seen throughout this project have been crated through the processes of either expression of interest, artist in residence or created for councils art agenda.

 

Where these three works were (for myself) outside of the norm, was the first sculpture Carcarcles Angustines was originally set up and I was asked to create by the means of a public sculpture show (Lorne Sculpture Show the 'Littoral Edge').  Generally not the format for creating site specific installations (having said that I think there should be a sculpture show that specifically requires site specific works created for that place and space).

 

The second installation, The Ancient Yarra was created for a council (Bay City Council,as expression of interest) relating too or inspired by someone else's specific story about a place. That person being   Carolyn Briggs. My job was to create  the concept, design and installation.   This process again whilst not new   to me, is one I’m involved in often.  The third installation was an installation created in a Gallery space, something I rarely do.  This by its very nature as a stand alone project (although fits into the theme of mapping waterways), could be argued that in a gallery space may not be seen as a public installation.

 

My argument to counter act that is that its part of a   larger very much public orientated  agenda.  The first important  phase of an ongoing public work 'Connecting Identities' primarily being about how different diverse communities relate to a place, (that place being Geelong) how they relate to past stories and histories and how those communities relate to each other.  The idea of the map showed the community where they were placed in Geelongs unique landscape at he same time showed the journey that will take place form 'mouth to mountain' (Barwon Heads to the You Yangs) May 2009.

Final Analysis 

 

The reason I had a closer look and these three specific installations were picked was because all three were created whilst doing this course over the past two years. All three were relevant to the topic of my masters paper and presentation. And all three installations were, from my perspective, a little out of the norm in regard to how public installations are initiated.

 

Generally, most of the works you will see throughout this project have been created through the process of either expression of interest, artist in residence or created for councils art agenda.

 

Where these three works were (for myself) outside of the norm was first sculpture ‘Carcarcles Angustines, was originally set up and I was asked to create by the means of a public sculture show (Lorne Sculpture Show, the “Littoral Edge”). Generally not the format for creating site specific installations (having said that I think there should be a sculpture show that specifically requires site specific works created for that place and space).

Story 1 ‘Carcarcles Angustines’

The second Installation, The Ancient Yarra, was created for a council (Bay City Council, as expression of interest) relating to and inspired by someone else’s specific story about a place, that person being Caroline Briggs.

My job was to create the concept, design and installation. This process again whilst not new to me , is not one I’m involved in often. 

The third Installation was and installation created in a gallery space, something I rarely do. This by it’s very nature as a stand alone project (although fits into the theme of mapping waterways), could be argued that in a gallery space, may not be seen as a public installation.

 

My argument to counter act, is that it is part of a larger, very much public orientated agenda. The first important phase of an ongoing public work ‘Connecting Identities’ primarily being about how different diverse communities relate the a place, (that place being Geelong), how they relate to past stories and histories and how those communities relate to each other.

The idea of the map showed the community where they were placed in Geelong’s unique landscape, and at the same time showing the journey that will take place from ‘Mouth to Mountain’ (Barwon Heads to the You Yangs, May 20090.

Story 2 ‘The Ancient Yarra’
Story 3 ‘Walking Country’

© Glenn Romanis