A project wrap up by Vic McEwan.
Having just woken up on Monday morning, the first morning back at home after the Grong Grong Motor Inn, I have the usual post project feeling of exhaustion. You work through it will bumping out, packing up and driving home, even through the post celebration feelings of head-achiness. And it’s often not until the day after and your at home that you want to lie still in bed and not move for a day.
This project was just as much about the process of the artists working together as it was about the public outcome. These artists were selected for their art forms and for the type of people that they are. The process of making and the relationships are so important to me that the selection of people (not the art type) is always a leading factor. We had a fun week at Grong Grong. It is my favourite type of experience, working hard and having fun while trying out new things. The fear, the adrenaline, feeling overwhelmed; it’s all part of it.
Seeing each individual make discoveries that inspire them onto new things is the greatest thing. When this happens to me personally it is like being in a dream and I feel just as much satisfaction when I see it happening to others. My role as Director was really as a subtle advisor, being there to answer questions when necessary, small suggestions “Have you thought about leaving the curtain open”, “I don’t think you should have the bed like that” It was never about directing the artists in their content to a great level as I really wanted to set up this week to allow personal discovery for people.
Everyone approached the week really differently. In room 1 Sarah came prepared with a very set idea of what she wanted to do. She had footage she had filmed in preparation and she had drawings and she wanted to work to create an installation in the room. At the same time, Sarah attended a local Tai Chi class and then collaborated with the “Tai Chi Ladies” to create an artwork together as a welcome to the audience.
In Room 3 Julie Montgarret was using this project to aid research into an area she is exploring. This project and her space threw up many limitations for her and it seemed to be the negotiation of these was at the forefront of the outcome. Julie was using this opportunity to try out a new custom designed rotating arm with light attached that silhouetted objects that rotated on a table on the centre of it. So, Julie’s project was both about being prepared with a proposed outcome but also exploring and experimenting right up until opening day to understand what that was.
In Room 6 Clytie arrived with a bunch of things, some prepared for installation, some just mere ideas. She had an idea of the theme/idea of what her room would be but the detailed content of that was an exploration throughout the week. Even after being told that she had finished her installation, afterwards I kept finding new subtle things that she was adding.
In Room 9 Scott had brought some items that he wanted to get to know better, to experiment with. He had some ideas about durational performance, about minute control of puppets and the rest he discovered during the time during an evolving process of consideration.
In Room 10 – DB arrived with his camera and associated equipment and that was it, no preconceptions of what he would be doing. DB embedded himself in the room and created a site specific video installation that was informed by the space as well as the other patrons we experienced during the week.
Everyone also made collaborations together but the collaborations that I loved were the more subtle ones. Scott recorded a voice over for DB’s work. When DB and I were editing we could here a record playing from Scott’s room and we commented on how the music was affecting the way we edited. Clytie and Julie did some work on Julie’s rotating light to make the images crisper. The list goes on, these small collaborations, sometimes unnoticed, were inspiring.
The final event went really well. there were a lot of people from Grong Grong, Wagga, Narrandera, Melbourne even. I have been thinking about the people of Grong Grong and I wonder about those who didn’t come to the event. In a small town where apart from the annual Rodeo there is little activity, a chance for entertainment and socialising would seem to be a much craved for thing. There were many people from Grong Grong at our Creative House, but what about those who didn’t attend this free event. What kept them away? This is something that I have been thinking about for some time. As The Cad Factory continues to create projects in places that inspire us, always attempting to extract something from the location while keeping our commitment to contemporary arts practice, I often reflect on the people who don’t come. What I have discovered more and more in recent times that it is the use of the word ART that sometime keeps people from attending. As in, the word ART suggests some type of exclusivity or something that will be of no interest to them.
This is just a reflection as we have been astonished by our fabulous audiences, but I am thinking about the question “How do you break down that fear barrier even further?” These things are always presented with such care; an event such as Grong Grong Creative House is meant to be a dream, it’s meant to be a comment on things that says “look at the functional things around you, the motels, the fields, the machinery. They are all practical things but they are all full of poetry”. It is this poetry in all things that we are trying to get to every time.
I am left reflecting on this further. I think more and more that I will not even use the word ART in the public realm when advertising things like this. Those that are seeking an art experience will understand that is what they will get. Those that feel hesitant, might just come along and be exposed to art without realising it and they then might discover that it isn’t scary and allow themselves the opportunity to discover something new. I’m not sure, I think I will be working that one out for several years.
So, on Sunday, everyone woke, slowly and hesitantly and throughout the day people started slowly disappearing, back to their homes, their families, their day jobs and with each departure was a heart felt goodbye, the sincerity of which is a measure of the success of this project.
In the past year I have been thinking more about these types of projects and how we always achieve a great deal of professional work with very small budgets. It is my aim in the future to budget for time AFTER the event. What would have been ideal is if all the artists could have spent Sunday at the Grong Grong Motor Inn and all left on Monday morning.
That would have allowed us a long day to slowly pack up, talk and share our reflections on the past week. I think it is a hugely important part of the process that we often neglect due to tight budgets and tight schedules. It is always a reflective time after a project has ended. People have given their all, all week. They have stretched themselves, shared part of themselves and explored ideas with the constant hover of an event at the end where people will come and share in their work.
So, this project has cemented in me that from now on all projects will have at least an entire day at the end for everyone to be together to reflect.
Finally at the end it was just me, all the artists had left, John and Sandra, our collaborators and the Motor Inn owners, went for a lie down. I had my car all packed and ready to go
Before I left though I spent an hour and a half playing and recording an instrument I had built out of a trailer. I was trying to make a recording that I can work on over the next couple of weeks as the “song” that I created in Grong Grong . I was also collecting sounds from this unique instrument that I can use for other things in the future and I was having a quiet moment to play sound into the space to say thank you to the grounds and the building.
I think that everyone involved in the Grong Grong Creative House are a little changed by it. It was a successful project in terms of art making and in terms of the relationships between the artists and then the relationship between us and the audience.
It was nearly two years ago when I first stayed at the Grong Grong Motor Inn after the Cad Factory Remote Spaces show (the Paradise Motel and The Aerial Maps at Matong Motors). After that show we all stayed in Grong Grong and met Sandra and John. It was driving home the next day that I thought “I want to have a bunch of artists living in the motel for a week and to make a show there” And here I was two years later, driving home the same way, this time on my own, and thinking how green the fields now are, probably the greenest I have ever seen them. And I thought that our week in Grong Grong has changed the way that I view everything. A couple of weeks ago I was in Berlin attending workshops, going to a festival and meeting people, as I drove home from Grong Grong I thought about how beautiful everything looked and I felt I could be anywhere in the world right now but I am glad that I’m here.
P.s – Video, photos and content created by artists and audience will be uploaded in the upcoming weeks.