CONNECTING IDENITIES is a return to artistic directing for me after a number of years writing books, the most recent of which is a novel - LOVE LIKE WATER. With CONNECTING IDENTITIES, I’m keen to explore artworks that express connection to land and to create these works with communities. The last major project I was artistic director for - Waderbirds - worked with communities living near wetlands along the migration path of the Eastern Curlew between Aotearoa/New Zealand across Australia and up to Japan. One of those communities was beside Swan Bay where I was a temporary resident at the time. The waterways and land of the Geelong area hold many valued memories for me.
Malcolm McKinnon is an artist and filmmaker working mainly in rural communities. Over the past 15 years, his work has encompassed oral history, urban planning, public and community art projects and exhibitions. His current practice is mainly focused around documentary filmmaking and social history.
Donna is a conceptual artist. She works in the mediums of landscape art, site specific performance and events. She has recently moved into working with the medium of ice. Donna’s process of working involves collaboration with community members to develop partnerships where interesting art can be fostered.
As a working practioner with over 100 large scale permanent, temporary and ephemeral public and community arts projects, my career has involved various kinds of media and contexts but always tries to reveal a deep concern for the relationship between storytelling and the environment. My visual stories seek to inform people about the natural and cultural histories that attribute to the experiences of country (place), with the aim that they may gain respect, understanding and hopefully a sense of belonging.
Michele has been a practitioner in the visual arts field for 30 years. She trained as a marrionettist at Pilgrim Puppet Theatre and broke away to form her own Company, Kooka Puppets. Michele was invited to work for Handspan Theatre on Cho Cho San and enjoyed the collective of creative comrades so much that she stayed with Handspan for 20 years, adding her sculptural, performance and conceptual skills to Four Little Girls, Smalls, Women Alone, Metaphor, Viva la Vida Frida, The Immaculate Contraption and many more.
Michele has worked as an artist in residence for Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Patch Theatre and many schools. She has been commissioned by numerous Theatre Companies to embellish their works with a puppetry or visual element.
Michele is currently living in the Otway Ranges in a charming little mud brick house nestled into a hill that overlooks the Great Southern Ocean. Here she grows vegetables and trees, plays with her dogs and the sea breeze.
STORY VESSEL ARTISTS
Julie Shaw - Buckley Ward
I'm a potter working from home in my studio and I like to make pots that can be handled and used. My first love has been making hand built teapots. However in recent years I've been making larger pieces not for use and at the moment I am enjoying working with kelp and trying to work out it's shrinking vagaries.
Victoria Edgar - Brownbill Ward
I like to create organic metal sculptural lamps and dramatic indoor and outdoor sculptures in bronze and mixed metal. CONNECTING IDENTITIES has provided me with a perfect oportunitiy to interact with the community of the Geelong Botanical Gardens to interpret their love of the gardens by creating a metal and glass story vessel. I hope that this sculpture captures the beauty and mystery of this great Geelong icon and also celebrate those who care for and nurture it.
Mark Trinham - Corio Ward
My work ranges from landscape sculptures in timber and metal to graphic design, painting and music. I have been commissioned by many communities throughout Geelong and enjoy these kinds of collaborations. My work usually has an environmental theme as its inspiration.
Shelley Hannigan - Deakin Ward
Shelley has been working as a visual artist since completing her first degree (BFA) in 1989. Her work is often described as metaphorical and common themes explored in her art have been ‘identity with place’ and ‘the transcient nature of life’. Over the years she has worked in the mediums of Painting, Mixed Media and Sculpture and has a particular interest in working with colour and pattern. She has also studied Art Therapy and Art Education at postgraduate level and has worked extensively in these fields.
“I am keen to work with the community of Deakin Ward as an artist as I live in this area, spent years studying and working at Deakin University and have watched the ward change. I look forward to learning more, through talking to people who know this area in other ways.”
Rene Inei - Kardinia Ward
I completed my T.O.P (Foundation Year in Art) at the Gordon in 1986 and then went on to finish a Bachelor of Arts (Applied Art) majoring in Sculpture at Deakin University, Warrnambool in 1990. This provided a solid foundation for my art practice. I now live and work in Maude and teach art and design locally. I am looking forward to working with the community of the Kardinia Ward interpreting their memories, thoughts and feelings into a sculptural form.
Phillip Doggett-Williams – Kildare Ward
My artistic career spans 30 years and I have work represented in major collections that include the Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Gallery of NSW and Artbank. I have been a resident of Geelong for 10 years and in 2007 was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong to produce the St Leonards 150th anniversary Commemorative sculpture (titled ‘Coles Journey’). The subject of ‘Belonging’ and ‘Place’ are common themes in my artwork. This project ’Connecting Identities’ is a unique opportunity to reflect on this subject with the privilege of local knowledge, shared experience and the promise of a deeper insight as to who we are as individuals and community.
Cinnamon Stephens - Cheetham Ward
Originally from Geelong, this Surf Coast artist creates distinctive metalwork sculptures. Inspired by her natural environment, Cinnamon enjoys incorporating flowing lines, spirals, copper embellishment and a touch of whimsy to her creations. Successfully living from her artwork for close to 20 years, Cinnamon has experienced many facets of the artworld by producing a cultural newsletter for 11 years, reviewing art exhibitions for the Geelong Advertiser, owning an art gallery for 2 1/2 years, encouraging emerging artists, and artistically collaborating with communities and schools.
"I am looking forward to working with the inspiration gleaned from my designated community of Cheetham, and creating a story vessel to be utilised in the mouth to mountain project 2009."
Nicole Thompson and Helen Brotherton - Windermere Ward
Born in Geelong artist Nicole Thompson has embraced the Connecting Identities Story Vessel project with enthusiasm for the themes of ‘story telling’ and the exploration of ‘a sense of place’. These are two themes central to her growing body of sculptural work, influenced by many years of living away from Geelong in diverse locations from remote Indigenous communities to the vibrancy and pace of Sydney.
“Returning to my hometown is like a rediscovery and it is exciting to see with fresh eyes that which would have previously been overlooked had I not left and returned after some time. I have thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the community within Windermere ward and hearing their personal stories of connection to their place”.
The Connecting Identities project has also created an opportunity for Nicole to continue to collaborate artistically with the large talent pool of local Indigenous artists. Helen Brotherton has eagerly applied both her local knowledge and contemporary painting techniques to contribute an uplifting, colourful and contemporary Indigenous design for the Windermere Story Vessel.
Jacinta Leitch - Cowie Ward
After studying Fine Art (painting & sculpture) at RMIT, I have continued to work in both areas but specialise in sculpture using the medium of Geelong limestone. Through the melding of my personal research, artistic individuality and the ideas shared with me by the selected ward panel, I will fulfil the aim of the ‘story vessel project’ by depicting aspects of the geography, local history and community legends of the Cowie ward.
Trevor Sault - Beangala Ward
My work has always had something of Zen about it. Not "simple", but I like to keep it uncluttered. I like texture. Surface and form stand out for me. Sometimes I despair at the amount of talk about Art. The visual arts are for looking at - they shouldn't need an explanation. But this work is part of a much broader scheme. Music, stories and peoples' event as well as sculpture. My hope is for a sculpture that works as a part of this larger event and also stands and speaks for itself, in its own way. I hope that people will be able to look at my sculpture and get a sense of the water, the tides, the dunes, the river with it's bridge, the farms and towns and the lifestyle we enjoy - all that is Beangala.
Victor Ceburgs - Coryule Ward
Site Specific Art has completed many sculptural installations locally, Australia wide and internationally. Victor Cebergs project manages all aspects of the design and implementation process. Viktor believes that including the community in all stages of the design process helps to foster a strong ownership and connection to the public art piece. In turn helping them find relevance in the history of the places they live, and the people and culture that came before them. Working in the Coryule ward will be really interesting, the area has such a rich histories and many community groups. They have all shown real interest in the project and a strong passion for their ancestry and the environment in which they live.
Zoe Snyder - Austin Ward
I have been working been working as a teacher and a visual artist since coming to Australia 35 years ago. Since 1985 I have returned to study to refine my skills in ceramics and sculpture, been involved in over 70 exhibitions and an artist on 20 community art projects, locally and as far away as Western Australia. This project has connected me with the Whittington Community Centre and the Geelong Invitation Homing Pigeon Club. Neither group has worked with an artist before and they seem excited about the process of collectively making a potent and lasting statement about their communities.
I graduated from the Victorian College of the arts, specializing in the double bass. I’m also a recording engineer and music instructor. Keel-la, written for CONNECTING IDENTITIES, is a short musical piece that highlights the tension between the present and the past, flight and repetition, arrival and yearning. The city of Geelong is in the process of change, of re-assessing past identities. Keel-la (the word for walk in Wathaurong) seeks to give voice to some of these elements. At times the music hints at flight and yet the rhythmic repitition refrains it. The indigenous sounds seek to harmonise with the contempory and vice versa. The sung melody (Kella-walk) floats a voice from above, time to walk, time to slow down, time to reflect.
Richard Thomas - Distillation Installation
Richard Thomas has exhibited in 17 different countries over a 20 year period in art spaces, non art contexts and in the landscape. His work addresses ecology and the confluence of man made and natural systems, forms and spaces. Media includes installation, sculpture, photography and video. He has also durated and directed various artist initiated events such as “The Bridge” (Construction in process VI) in 1998, and the Australian Pavilion at the “Satellite” project coinciding with the 2006 Shanghai Biennale. He has participated in artist’s residencies in Okinawa, Belfast, Spain, the Netherlands and New York. For more information please go to www.richardthomas.com.au
Philip Lethlean - Lighting Designer
A Melbourne based theatrical lighting designer, Philip’s extensive experience includes staging and lighting works throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Phil designs lighting for across the gamut of theatre, dance, puppetry, opera and circus; corporate events, architectural lighting and public art; and festival openings, community events and site specific locations.
A designer renowned for lighting new Australian works, he is a recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship. Philip lit the opening event Memory Bank for the Connecting Identities project and looks forward to the challenge provided by the You Yangs for Mouth to Mountain.
Lizz Lethlean - Bird Imagery
Lizz Lethlean has a 20+ year background in the performing arts, specialising in theatre and puppetry. As a member of Handspan Theatre, international touring formed the backbone of her performance work. Her freelance career includes working as a performer, singer, puppeteer and image maker. Lizz continues to fuse her performance and teaching skills to create theatrical experiences for and with people of all ages. For Connecting Identities, Lizz has contributed the bird puppet imagery for Mouth to Mountain.
Sam Spry - River of Dreams
Sam Spry is an artist and art teacher. She enjoys and appreciates the creative community of Barwon Heads, where she lives with her son and daughter.
Sam’s role in the Mouth to Mountain journey was to design, facilitate and produce the 'River of Dreams'. The 'River' is an 18 metre silk banner that shows the dreams and memories of grade six students from six different schools between Barwon Heads and Lara.
Sam decided to use batik to create this artwork and enlisted the help of fellow artist and art teacher, Maggie Hall, who became an invaluable asset to the project.
"I have loved hearing all the stories that are now immersed in the ‘River of Dreams'. The children’s stories and the personal meaning attached to their images, as well as the stories from the team of dedicated and enthusiastic artisans who brought this artwork to life. It has been an amazing and inspiring experience and I am looking forward to seeing it flow forth on the 9th May.”