Curtain Call: Moonah Arts Centre, Tasmania (until March 12th 2016)

Curtain Call is a collaborative artwork currently installed at Moonah Arts Centre, Tasmania, as part of the Glenorchy Open exhibition (until March 12th 2016).  Artist Dr. Gretel Taylor produced the installation with local residents of Glenorchy, the LGA adjoining City of Hobart. Gretel is based in the McCaughey Community Wellbeing Unit where she works with A/Prof Deborah Warr on an ARC Discovery Project, ‘Challenging place-based stigma’.

The project uses creative methods to engage residents living in neighbourhoods that have negative reputations among the wider community.  The project also explores innovative approaches to place-based research focusing on low-income neighbourhoods where research itself can have stigmatising effects when it focuses solely on the problems. It responds to evidence that place-based stigma has negative psychological, social and economic effects on residents.

Curtain Call is a riposte to the notion of the ‘Flannelette Curtain’, which disparagingly references Creek Road, marking the border of the City of Glenorchy, and (commonly in Hobart residents’ mythology) insinuates that to the north of the ‘curtain’ live ‘all the bogans’. The work was developed in a series of workshops based at Moonah Arts Centre in November - December 2015. The workshops focused on exploring ‘Art of Place’ via walking, photography, sculptural mapping and text responses to experiences and perceptions of the neighbourhood. Participants were encouraged to experiment with the inclusion of their own presence in the photographs of the place through physical traces such as shadows or reflections, and other times by photographing objects with personal meaning placed within the landscape. The images included in Curtain Call were taken during these workshops and collectively, printed on a flag and hung as a curtain, present nuanced and textured images of the suburb from residents’ perspectives.

A soundscape accompanies the curtain installation, comprising text generated by participants from their embodied, sensory and mnemonic experiences of walking around the area, with Situationist-inspired awareness of ‘psychogeographic’ effects. The text was recorded spoken in unison to evoke the overlay of subjective and visceral observations of pedestrians in a Glenorchy street. These sounds form, in their indecipherable multiplicity, perhaps a more accurate representation of the complex social ‘fabric’ of the place than the othering stereotype of the Flannelette Curtain.

Curtain Call
By the Glenorchy Art of Place Collective
Facilitator: Dr. Gretel Taylor
Local participants: Kate Lansell, Stella Gray, Rob O’Brien, Lawrence Donkers, Thir Thapa, Bee Maya, Alan Whykes, Raeann Thornbury, Mark Nankivell, Soncha Iacono, Kris Terts, Netra Lal Giri, Meg Nath Adhikari, Tek Subedi, Mon Maya Adhikari, Vi Lipscombe, Nar Budathoki, Mon Khadka, Jhakri Thapa, Devi, Chandra
Researchers: A/Prof Deborah Warr (University of Melbourne), Prof Keith Jacobs (University of Tasmania)

Special thanks to:
Alan Whykes and Soncha Iacono for sound design;
Verna Nichols for sharing her cultural knowledge of the area and Aboriginal sense of place; Michael Swanton for sharing his local historical and environmental knowledge;
Moonah Arts Centre for supporting the Art of Place workshops (Sean Kelly, Eleonor Downes, Michael McLaughlin, Kylie Eastley)
McCaughey Community Wellbeing Unit, University of Melbourne
School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
The College of the Arts, University of Tasmania