Time flies so quickly it's hard to believe it's been nearly three and a half weeks since I went to the hillsceneLIVE#3 event. It actually feels like it was forever ago that I had been kindly invited by Gareth Hart who was instrumental in organising this event as he did the last one. To be kinder to the environment and because of its limited parking space he even had a bus on hand to take everyone up to the observatory. Having experienced hillsceneLIVE#2, I had come to expect all hillsceneLIVE events to be held somewhere unusual. It didn't disappoint with its venue being The Mt Burnett Observatory.
The Observatory was established to provide an observing site for the 40cm telescope purchased from the estate of the late Mr L Jeffree of Bendio in 1968 and commissioned in the Monash University workshops. The building which was designed and fabricated by university staff was erected in 1972 and later the log cabin in 1975. More modifications to the telescope and the dome commenced and was completed in 1984.
Lining up at the Instant Poetry Stand and poets Hanna Jenkin and Cymbeline Buhler, masters of improvised poetry
In a state of disuse by 2010, in June 2011 four senior members of the ASV (Astronomical Society of Victoria) and former professional astronomer James Murray formed the incorporated association Mt Burnett Observatory inc. with the intention of saving the Observatory. On December 1st 2011, a new lease was signed and Mt Burnett Observatory began a new life as a community astronomical observatory. It's now used to promote astronomy and science to the communities in the Dandenongs, used for events and thrives/survives on memberships.
I was totally wrong expecting hillsceneLIVE#3 to be much like the #2 event. The vibe was more like going to a bush party, hanging out by the campfire with friends and having a sing-song. I took a friend with me and he thoroughly enjoyed the attention at the interview and the improvised poetry written by poets Hanna Jenkin and Cymbeline Buhler that told his life story. Thoroughly impressed, his treasured poem clutched to his chest, he took it home with him. Unfortunately there was so much else happening and with the long lines waiting their turn, I didn't get a chance to experience this event.
I had a little chat with Viv Rogis who had a dance video in several frames installed in a tree. She had filmed parts of her body dancing around a tree about 9 months ago and was comparing and observing the different textures of skin to tree and how different lights reflecting on both changed its look. Having edited her work, she then wanted to put back into the tree what she got out of it. The fractured frames were installed for the audience to observe from below, looking up to see the context that it came from but seen through a different window.
Hanging off the branches, I actually saw some headphones as well, but as they were not connected to anything, I wasn't sure what it was for. I'm guessing it was Ben Bryne's headphone installation for his 'Will do art for food" (artist interviews), which I missed completely. Awww.
Gareth Hart, the heart of the event, the creative organiser; Justine Walsh, poet, songstress and much more with friends C J (owner of Limerence in Belgrave) and Snowy; The Hillscene magazine creator Adriana; The Afrofeast mobile food truck
I'll have to add the 'Motivate Project' by Gulsen Ozer as another installation I didn't experience. There were just too many events happening at the same time and with the lines of people waiting to get in, I just never made it. Having peeped into the tent to check out all those beautiful mugs and cups and teapots, I know that this installation involves a cup of tea, 'live' flute and a video. From what I understand, participants stimulated by different musical sounds discover new sources of energy and new ways of moving to develop their own unique dance.
You could actually blame Justine Walsh for my missing The Motivate Project. She engages me with her talent; a songstress a poet and lots more, she performed her recently written poetry 'Silver Filaments' upstairs in the Observatory. With only a 12 people capacity up in the Dome, I made sure I was counted among the 12. There were pages of poetry about connection points and that impressed me no end. She then threaded a string back and forth connecting the audience to each other in complicated threading patterns as she recited her poem. It was fitting because it was an exploration about connection points and how some break, some hold and some are there forever. How we sometimes drop them and even breach those connections.
In the trees 'Today I climbed a tree' dance video by artist Viv Rogis; the bar and the telescope being set up
The acoustics in the dome was amazing and before we knew it we had Justine who is also a singer singing for us from different vantage points, testing out the acoustics. At one point she was joined by 'Snowy' in the audience (I had met Snowy at the Intermission event) get up (after much persuasion) to do a duet with her. Wow, who knew Snowy could sing so well. Everyone enjoyed this moment so much, it was hard to tear away from the dome to attend other installations. Unfortunately with installations either happening at the same time or overlapping; taking into account wait times, drinking, eating, socialising etc. I doubt very much that the full entertainment for the night was experienced by all.
I didn't see Toni Main and Sara di Segna in their 'Conversation' theatre dance about communication and miscommunication, but I have experienced them before at 'Intermission', an event that Gareth Hart was involved in as well. Sounds like he has his fingers in every creative pie going.
Justine Walsh - poetry and singing in the Dome; Fleur Kilpatrick & Roderick Cairns 'Braves' cabaret show; Alex Elbeery and the Strangers performing in the tent
The same goes for Katie Lohner(Mt Dandenong Conversations) for me. I didn't see her at this event, but I had seen her before as well. She collects shopping lists that she finds and starts up conversations about what's on it and this conversation can go anywhere, even beyond her control depending on which way the participant goes. This can give way to unexpected delightful paths or come to a dead end, depending on who's having the conversation. I think this paragraph may have to be called the missed list, as I didn't see Perry Vlahos' observatory presentation, nor Roderick Price's 'Immerse' sound installation.
Photography 'the stars in 2D' hmmm..didn't see that one either as I went straight from Justine Walsh's Filaments (which went on a bit longer as we were having such a great time with the acoustics up in the dome) to Fleur Kilpatrick and Roderick Cairns caberet 'Braves'. For me, this was the icing on the cake. I thought they were just brilliant (especially Fleur who was in the starring role) with their performance, wit and vocal brilliance. Really enjoyed their music, their singing and their show. Bravo! I did want to stay on in this very comfortable environment (though it had got quite chilly and I ended up in a borrowed jacket) to hear more than the first song of local musicians and band Alex Elbery and the strangers, which was full of energy and looked like a lot of fun, but alas, I had to get back in time for the baby sitter. The event was a different vibe to what I expected, but totally enjoyed every moment of what I experienced. I have no solutions as to the timing of every installation, but I was sorry to have missed more than half of it.
It was however great to see Burrinja CEO Ross Farnell pop in for a while as Burrinja, a community focused cultural centre is a great supporter of all things creative in the hills area including The Hillscene Magazine. They themselves offer a broad range of arts and cultural experiences that encompass visual, performing and community arts and education. Meanwhile, check out their webpage (there's always something happening there) while you await the next hillsceneLIVE event. I'll bet they'll have even more amazing experiences in store for us.