ArtsLab Shopfront's artists in residence

Introducing the Dreaming team.

This initial Civic Life blog is a long time coming. We are about 2 months into this Civic Life business and its about time I introduced you to my team. I have been fortunate enough to be collaborating, thus far, with two wonderful female artists Lucy Heffernan and Christie Woodhouse. As a point of introduction we have each drawn a little self-portrait (with our non-dominant hand mind you). We have also included  three words here to describe the process so far.



LUCY: place, energy, joy  Deep ThinkingROSEunravelling, warm, river matter At Work

CHRISTIE: play, winding, shimmer 

Together we are proud to be developing a production of Australian playwright, Catherine McKinnon’s play, As I Lay Dreaming.  The last 5 sessions or so we have together had have been centred around pulling McKinnon’s text apart, unpacking the themes in an effort to build a dramaturgical justification of the piece for ourselves. We are definitely still nutting out at this and I think will be doing so throughout the entire process. We have taken to exploring a couple of local sydney parklands, and have made a few trips to local river spaces, the Cook being the first, Christie has perused some Illawara river banks and I headed to Lane Cove National park the other week. We have been collecting material from each site and taking pictures/videos/ sound bytes of the surroundings as a way of documenting our experience there.

Initially the aesthetic of the river, at least in my mind, was a magical, peaceful place. But our field trips have taught us much more and reminded us of the impact of urban life in these ‘natural’ landscapes. Our waters ways are dirty places, contaminated with rubbish, the majority of which is plastic drink bottles and cigarette butts.  I yielded a huge amount to material just today.  I think I covered perhaps 3 square meters in total, and didn’t come close to collecting all the rubbish from that area alone.

Its a mix feeling being down there on the water, it is confronting to see how much damage has been caused by human beings in the area yet this large body of water still has such an alluring quality. It is hard to imagine this place free of the intrusion of industry, road ways, and permanent picnic structures. Being there amongst the filth, however, does encourage you to cast your imagination over the place to dream a sense of the serenity it must have held before the urban environment encroached upon its edges.


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