Where Have We Come To ?
My submission is for a collaboration with the Moreland migrate communities- via stories and lived experiences of seeking asylum, notions of displacement and addressing the ideas
of settlement from the First Nations perspective. This proposal will include working directly with a First Nation person and or Wurundjeri elder to collaborate on a text based work.
Also the creation of a monumental free standing sculptural work which incorporates a online based platform with oral stories from the migrate community.
In June 2016, I traveled to the Greek Island of Lesvos, situated in the northern Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey, to visit and document the piles of discarded life jackets from the estimated
500,000 refugees who have landed on northern shores of Lesvos since early 2015. The Island of Lesvos is one of the first European landing points for the thousands of refugees escaping
the humanitarian crisis within the Middle East. Their final destination was usually Germany. However many were held up on the northern boarders of Greece, after Macedonia closed their
boarders in early 2016. Within the rolling volcanic landscape of the island, each of these jacket depicted these symbols of hope for the thousands of Syrian, Afghans and others escaping
the humanitarian crisis within the Middle East. Since my journey to Lesvos and experiences from engaging with refugees in and around Athens at the time, I have focused my art practice to
interpreting these human stories through installations and photographic works, including exhibiting a life jacket installation at Venice Biennale in 2017 and Counihan Gallery in 2018.
My proposal is in two parts that relates to the Brunswick Town Hall site and the entrance to the municipal office building by utilizing the column and facade for a text based work and a
free standing sculpture on the Sydney Rd site. Working with a First Nations person(s), my aim is to provide a platform for the indigenous community to tell their stories about living on the
Wurundjeri land, from historical times to present day. References to the Wurundjeri balug whose estate includes land that comprises of Moreland shire including Merri Creek could provide
a pivot point around this project. The text would be installed on the upper facade of the entrance and vertically down the column, potentially on multi sides.
The painted text would be sized to allow viewing from all parts of the Sydney road location.
The second part of this major work is the creation of a free standing sculpture which depicts a large number of life jackets in various sizes and designs, including children's vests in a work.
It will challenge and allow for both audience participation and engagement. The sculptural work, Pillars of Déplacement, is to be monumental in scale and in its materiality. From within
a concrete plinth measuring 90 x 90 x 30 cm, three stainless steel supports at 90 mm in diameter, protrude from the structural concrete base embedded into the pavement. Each Stainless
steel support is positioned to reflect geographical points from the three major locations of migration into Moreland Community from Post War to contemporary flows. The three main
locations being, Southern Europe, Middle East and Asia. Conceptuality the height and shape is calculated by measuring the distance from each of these three locations back to the Sydney
road site. The Stainless steel pillars are then appropriately scaled to size with the height range from 5400 mm to 3700 mm.
Three structural elements of the pillars are also designed to support approximately 200 life jackets forming three piles. Each of these various in size, designs and fluorescent orange colour
variations, are back filled with ridged silicone compound to retain its original form. The Life-Jackets are finally coated in clear Epoxy Resin, not only to weather protect the objects including
from UV, but to retain colour and form. Within the engineered construction, each individual vest is threaded onto the stainless steel support utilizing the head hole. Not only to give strong
structural integrity, but to satisfy engineering principles. Overall, each of Stainless steel supports not only are individuality shaped, but also is designed to complement the dimensions
of Moreland Town Hall building.
From within these piles of sculptured life-Jackets, a series of oral sound pieces from the perspective of Moreland based recent refugees and asylum seekers will tell their stories.
Attached to the side of the concrete plinth, along with the project details, scanning the provided QR code, The viewer would be taken to wwwwherehavewecometocom site to fine
personal oral recordings about individual narratives discussing displacement, personal loss, journeys and their hopes for the future will be heard.
( The Website could also be part of a larger platform for other Art Moreland Council projects. )
Taking in to consideration the actual workable space available and the viewing sightlines, my chosen site is positioned near the corner of the Municipal Building from Sydney Rd & Dawson
Street Brunswick, allowing the placement of Pillars of Déplacement to sit comfortably within the flow of people traffic, and viewing points from all approaches.
The life jacket have become a contemporary metaphor for transportation and harrowing multiple Journeys across the seas, from settlement to present day. My installation would create a
permanent shrine for the diversity of community throughout the shire of Moreland.