Greetings from Shepparton (north east of Victoria) on my rest day during the second round of the Fairfax In-Community artist workshops. I’ve come off from two days with the students at Kalianna Special School in Bendigo where we finished off an audio composition documenting a journey into one of the historic Bendigo gold mines – cue: worksongs, elevators, lots of pickaxes, deadly gas explosions and cave-ins. This particular round of workshops was great fun. It’s a wonderful school with great staff and the students were absolutely wonderful to work with.
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It’s a lovely day here in Shepp, marginally warmer than when I was here almost exactly a month ago, but there’s definitely Spring in the air this time around. It’s good for my spirits, and really does make Shepp appear that little more hospitable. It’s a town with a litany of problems – industrial decline, crumbling infrastructure, unemployment, crime – and in many ways resembles a rough city suburb transposed to a remote area in country Australia.
It’s not the socio-economic basketcase that many make it out to be, but life is pretty bad for a majority of the students I was working with last month. BUT I was really heartened on my last visit to discover personalities who were creative, imaginative, motivated and enthusiastic about art practice – especially a new and weird medium like sound art! Furthermore, I was blown away by just how perceptive and intelligent they were when it came to discussing concepts, creative development and various techniques. We’ve got a lot to get through over the next two days; developing an audio composition/performance drawing on themes of routine, boredom, fear and the tension between the natural and industrial environments in and around Shepparton.