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Arriving in Paraburdoo

Posted by Craig Walsh

Hello to the Paraburdoo community. I'm really looking forward to meeting and working with you.

The video portrait projection outside Rocklea Palms will run for the next four nightsThe video portrait projection outside Rocklea Palms will run for the next four nights

Paraburdoo is a very different location and town to the previous FIVE locations of Busselton and Geraldton. My technical assistant Matt Cabrera and I are very much FIFO, living in camp accommodation and eating in the mess with the other Rio Tinto workers. It is such a contrast (in so many ways) to the life I know, but once again I feel privileged to be able to spend time here and get to know the locals through the digital project. I have been inspired by the location, the surrounding landscape and this very specific way of life. We have commenced the video portraits and all the conversations are very insightful and really assist in understanding the individual's position within this quite structured work and living environment.

We had the opportunity to interview Michael Ingie, a Rio Tinto employee and a Yinhawangka man (the traditional custodians of this country). In consultation with Michael, we developed a video portrait for a projection to transform a large tree outside the FIFO mess at Rocklea Palms into a monumental light sculpture. (Take a look at the images below to see the filming process). This is an artwork which reflects Michael's connection to this country and defines an important form of engagement with the landscape and his sense of 'belonging'. This project represents a starting point in the work we will create here and I’m interested in exploring the ways in which the population of Paraburdoo engages with the landscape and how that contributes to mental health and wellbeing.

We are presenting the light sculpture outside the mess over the next four nights and we launched it this morning at 4am. This is a time when many of the FIFO workers have breakfast before commencing there shift. There has been a good response by those who have experienced it but many are focused on their morning routine and (naturally) aren’t expecting to experience an artwork. I have never presented a public artwork at 4am in the morning in what is essentially a work place. It is a very interesting space and time to locate a work.

That’s why I considered it  important to run it over the next four nights. I hope the word spreads and many will have an opportunity to experience it. I also hope that the project will spready by ‘word of mouth’ to the residents and families so that they too can experience the work, providing a space in which both FIFO and residents have a shared experience.

Come on down to Rocklea Palms and view the work from the park in front of the mess nightly on the 16, 17, 18 and 19 May from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.


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Dadaa Principal partnerRio Tinto Arts partner Australia Council