Thursday, 6 January 2011

About Foundation/Welcome Home Lightnin’ Stone

Foundation/Welcome Home Lightnin’ Stone (working titles) was a multimedia performance project developed over a two year period with community input, and an associated web archive of interviews contributed by residents of Blue Mountains during the research. The purpose was to develop a project, based on research and consultation, that shared multicultural perspectives and stories using architectural projection and performance.

The creative story underpinning the project explored themes of reconnecting with ancestry and history. These themes are culturally significant in the Blue Mountains, as settlement had irrevocable impact on the indigenous Darug and Gundungurra peoples. Migration of settlers from overseas, and forced removal of Aboriginal children over generations, has affected many generations with loss of connection to ancestry. The project explores and researches ways of enabling people – particularly those identifying with an Indigenous ancestry – to connect to their heritage and share their insight with others.

A stage of development was part funded by Blue Mountains City Council Cultural Partnerships grant, with main funding contribution by Illuminart Productions Pty Ltd and in-kind support by community members and participating residents and artists.

Stage 1: 2009-2010
Research & Interviews

Foundation was developed over a two year period with community input to generate the story. We invited Blue Mountains residents, community elders, indigenous residents, recent migrants, and residents who have an interest in our topic to have input. The conversations were about connection to the Blue Mountains and other places, knowledge of family tree or ancestry, and how this influences life. Topics also included reconciliation, Blue Mountains history and community heritage. The research was through conversations between writer/director Nigel Glassey and local residents and groups. Some of the people who provided input also generously agreed to allow the conversations to be recorded and placed on this web site as part of our community engagement archive.

Concept Development

The story needed to be developing in parallel with the development of the use of technology, so the team carried out some concept workshops using the historic Megalong Valley Uniting Church as a site for these tests. These involved improvised dialogue and multi-media interplay, spoken word and movement, live and pre-recorded action and song. The video below shows some on site experimental workshops from 2010.

Stage 2: 2011
Creative Development, Showing

After further creative development, a public showing of a performance was on 18th March 2011, held on the grounds of the Megalong Valley Church.  The narrative was based around a fictional story of a man’s journey reconnecting him to his ancestry. Projection art was mapped onto the historic venue to create illusions of the building coming to life, with the media contributed by local artists and performers. Audience were transported by shuttle bus to the show site to view the work, and asked to provide feedback about the event. View an excerpt on youtube:

Evaluation, Consultation, Feedback.

The showing was evaluated to determine the audience response, and documentation was shared with the consultants, producers and some community members. The work to date had successfully overcome many technical and logistic difficulties however there was a deal of controversy around whether the work should centre around a fictional character, or offer other forms of interpretation of the themes involving a community arts process. After independent consultation with local Indigenous reference group members and partners, the second approach was the producer’s preference.

Discontinuing the project

Two divergent viewpoints emerged – (1) to develop a projection show with involvement of local Indigenous visual artists, through projection art exploring / representing the themes drawn from the research (illuminart) and (2) to develop a performance show with projection as a backdrop about a fictional character who explores his ancestry (Nigel Glassey). Nigel Glassey was was encouraged to independently develop his vision for a narrative performance script which has since became a separate project that is not part of the illuminart program. The collaborative model desired by the producer was implemented on other future projects including the award winning projects Port Inhabited in Port Adelaide in 2011 and No Boundaries Project in Penrith in 2012.