Let’s Organise Your Leisure

Responding to aspects of the Gold Coast’s identity being linked to beaches rivers and canals,  this body of work Let’s Organise Your Leisure explores intersecting liminal spaces: retirement/ nonretirement; public/private; high/low tide and the natural/ artificial.

This project is supported by GENERATE GC, which is a City of Gold Coast initiative delivered in partnership with Tasdance and SITUATE Art in Festivals.

Generate GC acknowledges the Yugambeh people, the traditional owners of the land on which we work, and pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples on the Gold Coast today.

The Project

Informed by my experience as a “retiree”- mapping the Gold Coast as a runner and kayaker – I lead a series of cultural tours/ artworks that playfully comment on and challenge assumptions about “organised leisure” for older people. Exploring how individuals and groups navigate public spaces through arts practice – I consider stereotypical representations of ageing as form.

Early Research (May – October 2021)

During this phase of the research, I developed a series of playful kayak workshop “tours” that involved creating site responsive works on and around pontoons as a cultural tourism experience. The intent was to create a new participatory form for my practice by growing the creative capacity of other seniors. Given that we all age – this work encourages conversation and advocacy for creative, healthy initiatives for all audiences.

I have developed a fascination for pontoons and jetties that exist along our Gold Coast waterways offer an alternative space for artists to interrogate the public /private space concept. Extensions of backyards – they are privately owned but protrude into the public realm. These structures also create a juxtaposition between natural/urban environments and utilise both natural and artificial materials associated with floatation. One of these workshops took place in a canal in the suburb of Paradise Waters . Although most of the participants were creatives -their feedback indicated that opportunities for older participant makers in the visual arts in the region were limited – and that the “collaborative process as the work” results in improved well being and creativity.

“the on the spot spatial problem solving was the best part…”

“by moving through space on a kayak as a warm up…..I was ready to respond to the site in a new way…”

LOYL at HOTA LAKE (October 2021 –January 2022)

This work saw me investigate how making art in a public place enables conversations about the intersections between art and other leisure activities. 

 It also enabled the participants to encounter more conventional sculptural forms in an arts precinct as a conversation starter about how we view the man made and natural environment around then Gold Coast.

Working to a specific design brief , the participants respond to the site at the HOTA Lake , using materials we associate with “other” leisure activities. This allowed us to interacting with the lake itself – the shoreline and the body of water. Given that many people from all walks of life use the lake as a place of enjoyment and relaxation – involvement with members of the public became part of the work.

Working as a small team (including support artists dressed in LOYL branded outfits)we conducted preparatory workshops which then culminated in a public program commissioned by HOTA in January 2022. This consisted of 3 morning workshops and a Float off Finale – where 10 components were launched into the lake as an installation. This final work also included several participants swimming and floating within the piece.

Click here to see video footage of this project.

Images clock wise from top left :Workshop Shoreline (2022) , Prelaunch Finale (2022) , Launch 1 (2022), Launch 2 with Swan ( 2022), LOYL Team ( 2022), Launch 3(2022).

Image credits: Kathy Mackey , Debra Harrison and Antionette Edmunds

LOYL at SWELL Sculpture Festival

(Currumbin Beach September 2022 )

As part of the workshop program at SWELL 2022, I had the opportunity to refine this work – increasing the size of the final floating sculptures -as well as the numbers of participants who were able to contribute to the construction of the piece.

The site offered some more challenges, given the impact of a tidal creek system as well as increased logistical challenges associated with presentation within a large well-established festival.

The natural ecosystem along the southern side of Currumbin Creek also presented an opportunity to introduce aspects of biomimicry into the presentation, given the prevalence of colonies of soldier crabs along the shoreline.

Image below: Lone Soldier(2022)

An important part of preparing for the installation experience is to undertake research about the environmental and social history of the site. This forms the basis of the walking tour that takes place at the commencement of each making workshop.

 I visited the site on several occasions (and at differing times of the day) in the lead up to the SWELL Sculpture Festival in order to gain an understanding of weather and tidal patterns as well as social impactors including the demographics of people enjoying the beach and the proximity of planes flying overhead.

In order for the walking tour to be meaningful – I needed to develop points of interest at strategic points around the creek. These will be where the participants will retrieve previously “planted” pool noodles and bring them back to the main assembly point. Several locations proved to be ideal , including those that featured a build-up of logs along the high tide mark , marker buoys and anchor points to show the swimming enclosure, evidence of young pandanus growing from dispersed seed and the sand banks that feature evidence of soldier crab colonies .This research will enable  me to encourage the participants to bring their own stories and reflections to this part of the workshop as well as building a sense of camaraderie.

Images below: Site Research 1-5 (2022)    

SWELL Sculpture Festival Workshop and Installation Program:

September 10 and 11, 2022

During the two day build and installation process – I further developed key components of the work.
While initially feeling that the site investigation tour was a critical component- and remains so for some audiences- the building of the work in situ took or a more significant visual and conceptual significance .
The visual impact of the team of LOYL ” senior workers” patiently and  methodically constructing the works while sitting among members the general public enjoying a day at the beach certainly points to the discussion about how we perceive work and leisure.

Day 1 offered some important learnings in terms of responding to and working within a more incidental audience- as well as providing an opportunity to test float the work at 50% of its finale scale.

On Day 2 two we returned to the site to build the remaining ten sculptural forms in situ after carefully placing the 10 works from the first day back into the space. This added a sense of a growing presence of the work as we approached the time for the final procession and Float Off.

The Finale itself included a dedicated team of swimmers who I had briefed about responding to the biomimicry cues of soldier crabs. They responded to this beautifully as they processed to and from the shore line and added a new and important performative layer to the work.
Visually this proved to be very effective as  the crab like forms were able to be held high above the heads of the team members and thus cast dramatic shadows on the sand.

Once the works were laid down and allowed to float in the water-the piece took on a more reflective element -as audience members were invited to interact with – and become part of the work.

I also had engaged a small team of surf lifesavers who not only added an important safety service- but also whose presence and distinctive uniforms added conceptually to understandings of leisure behaviours along the Australian coastline.

The work remained in the water for about 45 minutes and then the team processed back to
the shore. Interesting a beautiful and unexpected phase of activity spontaneously took place – as many of the audience members assisted the core team in disassembling the work and loading the materials back into the van as another cue that the work had now ceased to exist.

Images below: Let’s Organise Your Leisure Workshop and Installation Day 1 Image credits: Carey – Gold Coast Media 

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